In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine have found that pine bark extract, a powerful antioxidant, has no effect in lowering blood pressure or in reducing other risk factors for heart disease. Pine bark extract has been thought to be heart beneficial because it was believed to have an antioxidant mechanism that interferes with several biological mechanisms that cause blood pressure to rise.

The Study

But in the Stanford study of 130 overweight people who had high blood pressure but were not on medication for the problem, half the volunteers were randomly assigned to get a placebo, or dummy pill, and half were given a 200 mg per day dose of pine bark extract. After 12 weeks, researchers found no difference between the two groups in the participants' blood pressure levels or in any of the other risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, blood glucose, body weight, and C-reactive protein levels. Both groups remained virtually the same throughout the study.

Antioxidant Supplements

Pine bark extract is just the latest in a long line of antioxidant supplements that have been proven ineffective against heart disease. Vitamins A, C, and E, long touted to be heart protective, have not been found to live up to their hype and one study has even showed that vitamin A may actually increase the chances of developing lung cancer in smokers.