Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

O Christmas Tree: Your Bark May Fight Arthritis

Date:
December 28, 2004
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
A fake Christmas tree may be more popular, but here’s a new reason to appreciate the real thing: Researchers have identified a group of anti-inflammatory compounds in the bark of the Scotch pine — widely used for Christmas trees — that they say could be developed into food supplements or drugs for treating arthritis and pain.

A fake Christmas tree may be more popular, but here’s a new reason to appreciate the real thing: Researchers have identified a group of anti-inflammatory compounds in the bark of the Scotch pine — widely used for Christmas trees — that they say could be developed into food supplements or drugs for treating arthritis and pain. The compounds, which show promise in preliminary cell studies, are likely to be found in other pine species as well, the scientists say.

Anti-inflammatory compounds have been found in a wide variety of plant species, but this is believed to be the first time that they’ve been identified in a species that is used commonly for Christmas trees, the researchers say. The compounds identified were phenolics, a class of highly-active plant chemicals that have been increasingly tied to beneficial health effects. The study is scheduled to appear in the Dec. 29 print issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

“The preliminary study showed that highly purified preparations of pine bark extract have potent anti-inflammatory effects. In the future, this may mean that people with arthritis may ease their pain by eating food supplements made from Christmas trees,” says study leader Kalevi Pihlaja, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at the University of Turku in Finland. He cautions that the extract used in this study has not yet been tested in animals or humans. Until those studies are done, he adds, no one knows how much might be needed to obtain health benefits or whether there are any side-effects.

Pine bark extract has been used worldwide for many years as folk medicine, both orally and topically, to treat a variety of health conditions ranging from wounds to coughs. Recent research by others, including some human studies, shows that the extract has the potential to relieve high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease and skin cancer. The new study may help provide an explanation for some of its alleged health benefits, Pihlaja says.

As part of a larger search for healthy compounds in plants that might be used to develop functional food products or nutraceuticals, the researchers studied several different preparations of pine bark extract taken from the Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) and identified up to 28 compounds, some of which showed high biological activity.

The researchers then tested the various extracts against mouse inflammatory cells (macrophages) for their ability to produce nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), chemicals which are known to help trigger inflammation when they are produced in excess amounts, as during disease or injury. The results were then compared to the chemical responses of inflammatory cells that were not exposed to pine bark extracts.

The researchers found that the most highly purified extract tested had the most potent anti-inflammatory activity. The extract (at 50 g/mL concentration level) inhibited nitric oxide production, an excess of which has been linked to arthritis and circulatory problems, by up to 63 percent, they say. Likewise, they found that the same extract concentration inhibited prostaglandin production, an excess of which has been linked to arthritis and pain, by up to 77 percent.

The extract inhibited prostaglandin E2 production probably by blocking COX-2 enzyme activity, which is normally enhanced during inflammatory responses, according to the scientists. Blocking this enzyme is the basis for some widely used arthritis medications.

It is not known how the compounds in the extract compare to anti-inflammatory agents that are already on the market. Some of the phenolic compounds identified in the extract are already familiar to scientists as potent disease-fighting antioxidants, but there are other compounds present in the extract that have not yet been characterized, the researchers say.

The extract did not appear to show any signs of cell toxicity in the current study. But don’t try to brew your own pine bark remedy at home, Pihlaja and his associates warn, as further studies are needed to ensure the safety of its components.

The National Technology Agency of Finland provided funding for this study.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "O Christmas Tree: Your Bark May Fight Arthritis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041220012423.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2004, December 28). O Christmas Tree: Your Bark May Fight Arthritis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041220012423.htm
American Chemical Society. "O Christmas Tree: Your Bark May Fight Arthritis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041220012423.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins