Research out of two universities in Italy has found that supplementation with Pycnogenol - French maritime pine bark extract - resulted in less swelling in the lower legs during travel compared to control groups who used stockings or did standard in-flight exercises.
These findings back three previous studies linking the extract to better conditions post travel including venous thrombosis and jet lag.
The study included participants at varying levels of risk for edema (swelling) and deep vein thrombosis whom traveled more frequency than the average person i.e. completing more than eight hours of flights in economy class. The three risk groups (high, medium and low) were then further divided into groups based on their personal preference - Pycnogenol group, stockings group and control group. All participants did in-flight exercises and kept sufficiently hydrated.
The participants were evaluated by taking limb measurements before and after the flights as well as ultrasound scanning of the venous system. Jet lag was measured by participants' self reporting.
The Pycnogenol dose was 150mg per day administered as three capsules, three days before the flights until three days after the return flight.
The researchers found a significant reduction of swelling in the lower legs and ankle circumference for the Pycnogenol group. They also reported a decrease in study participants who reported leg pain after flights.
Regarding jet lag, the Pycnogenol groups all reported milder jet-lag symptoms compared to the control groups post flight.
The researchers wrote:
"In this study, Pycnogenol seems to effectively control edema. There is indication that it may also contribute to control some early thrombotic events, but this requires an evaluation of a larger number of high-risk subjects."
Sitting is the new smoking
The great thing about these findings is that they can be translated to situations beyond traveling, as pointed out by Sebastien Bornet - a vice president within Horphag Research, manufacturers of Pycnogenol. He states:
"Sitting is the new smoking. It's not only travelling by air - you can sit in the car five hours, or you can sit in the office for eight hours, so it's all about sitting."
The reason for Horphag Research focusing on air travel is due to the fact that you are more acutely aware of the negative effects of sitting too long in this situation, specifically in the cramped conditions of economy class or budget airlines.
"The results were quite amazing in the sense that you can see the difference in the circumference of the leg and ankles. It's a very clear, easy way to notice the difference, and an easy way to measure the benefits of Pycnogenol for travel health."
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.