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Improved blood flow to muscles

Trees – good for riding round and good for your legs!!??

A new study has shown that supplementation with natural pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) improves blood flow to muscles which speeds up recovery after physical exercise. It’s being billed as muscle cramp relief with a natural approach. In recent times, some natural health supplements have gained widespread popularity for their use in sport, such as arnica for bruising, while many others have fallen from use.

Muscle cramps are a common problem and poor blood circulation to the muscle, either due to strenuous physical exertion or insufficient blood supply due to a medical problem is thought to be the cause. Other implicated causes include electrolyte imbalances, particularly magnesium.

So what is it?

Without wanting to sound too much like a Radox advert… pycnogenol is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the Maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France. It’s apparently unique because of the combination of procyanidins, bioflavinoids and organic acids it contains. The extract has been studied for the past 35 years, predominantly for it’s anti-inflammatory action and is currently available as a health supplement.

A word of caution

Before you rush out and stock up on tree bark…

The study mentioned only contained 66 participants so should only be considered preliminary until bigger studies have been done. Keep an eye on this space to see what happens with tree bark extract in sport! As with all natural health supplements, be careful to be sure that you know exactly what you are actually taking.

DISCLAIMER: Advice and information is provided via Clinic on a free of charge basis as a supportive service to women in sport. It should not replace the use of your General Practitioner for medical problems.

Copyright 2006 Dr K Hurst


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