The antioxidant Pycnogenol® brand pine tree bark improved the quality and function of sperm in men with fertility problems by a mean of 38% and 19%, respectively, after only 90 days of use, according to a landmark clinical trial published in the October 2002 issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. This gives infertile couples new hope and a new alternative to more invasive procedures.
"Up to 60% of infertile couples have difficulty conceiving due to abnormalities in the male's sperm. By the men taking Pycnogenol® to increase normally functioning sperm naturally, couples may be able to avoid in-vitro fertilization and either enjoy improved natural fertility or undergo less invasive and less expensive fertility-promoting procedures," stated Dr. Scott Roseff, author of the study and Director of the West Essex Center for Advanced Reproductive Endocrinology (W.E. C.A.R.E.) in West Orange, NJ.
The seminal fluid surrounding the sperm is normally rich in antioxidants and protects the sperm from oxidative damage, according to Dr. Roseff, "but in sub-fertile men the seminal fluid, for unknown reasons, may not be protected by these antioxidants."
"We chose Pycnogenol® for the study because it is one of the richest natural sources of bioavailable and bioactive antioxidant compounds known. Pycnogenol® has been found to be many times more potent than other known antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E. The biological precursors of the oligomeric procyanidins such as catechin and taxifoline are effective and well-known free-radical scavengers," he said.
According to Dr. Roseff, the study clearly shows that taking daily doses of 200 mg pine tree bark extract resulted in improved sperm quality and function because the natural antioxidant protection was supplemented.
Sperm parameters in 19 subfertile men before and after 90 days treatment with pine tree bark extract:
Baseline count 118.0 +/- 17.2 92.0 +/- 10.5
Baseline motility score 145.8 +/- 11.5 152.6 +/- 14.3
Baseline morphology 4.3 +/- 0.6 4.9 +/- 0.6
Capacitated count 87.8 +/- 11.0 89.7 +/- 9.7
Capacitated motility 248.3 +/- 5.9 238.4 +/-15.7
Capacitated morphology 8.9 +/- 0.8 11.4 +/- 0.9
Mannose binding 32.9 +/- 1.8 37.8 +/- 1.1
Pycnogenol® is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the Maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France. It represents a unique and natural combination of genetically programmed constant proportions of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids, making it a super antioxidant.
The study was supported by Horphag Research, the original developers of Pycnogenol® brand maritime pine tree bark extract.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of Pycnogenol (French maritime pine tree bark extract) on sperm parameters and function in subfertile men.
STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, nonrandomized, clinical study in a private infertility practice. Nineteen subfertile men were given 200 mg Pycnogenol daily orally for 90 days. Semen samples were analyzed before and after treatment for sperm count, motility score and strict morphology before and after capacitation, and mannose receptor binding.
RESULTS: The mean sperm morphology following Ham's F-10 capacitation increased by 38% following Pycnogenol treatment, and the mannose receptor binding assay scores improved by 19%.
CONCLUSION: Pycnogenol therapy resulted in improved capacitated sperm morphology and mannose receptor binding. The increase in morphologically and functionally normal sperm may allow couples diagnosed with teratozoospermia to forgo in vitro fertilization and either experience improved natural fertility or undergo less invasive and less expensive fertility-promoting procedures, such as intrauterine insemination.
Roseff SJ. Improvement in sperm quality and function with French maritime pine tree bark extract. J Reprod Med. 2002 Oct;47(10):821-4. PMID: 12418064