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Jet lag

Great News for Holiday Travelers: Pine Bark Cuts Jet Lag in Half

Monday, November 24, 2008 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: jet lag, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) If you've ever taken a super long flight that lasts seven to nine hours and crossed a time zone or two, you probably know that jet lag can make you feel just plain awful --- and it can keep you from enjoying your trip for at least a day or two. That can be especially aggravating when you travel over the holidays. But now comes news that a natural plant substance, an extract from the French maritime pine tree, can cut jet lag symptoms by about fifty percent.

The new research, conducted at the G. D'Annunzio University in Pescara, Italy, and just published in the journal Minerva Cardioangiologica, reveals pine bark extract, or pycnogenol, reduced symptoms of jet lag including feeling exhausted, headaches, insomnia and brain edema (swelling). It was effective in both healthy individuals and those with high blood pressure. In addition,airline passengers experienced far less lower leg edema, a common condition associated with long flights, when they took pine bark extract.

Jet lag, also known by the medical term desynchronosis, is a temporary disorder that produces various mental and physical impairments as a result of air travel across time zones . It's especially common in flights to Asia and Europe, but also strikes some travelers flying between the West and East coasts. It is caused because the body's "internal clock" has difficulty "resetting" to the new schedule in a different time zone. The result can be temporary but near disabling problems that range from insomnia and feeling grouchy to an inability to concentrate .

"This study could not have come at a better time for the upcoming holiday travel season. Previous pycnogenol flight studies have shown a reduction in jet lag; however this was the first study to solely focus on the condition," Dr. Gianni Belcaro, a lead researcher of the study, said in a prepared statement for the press. Dr. Belcaro's research team concludes pycnogenol's ability to combat jet lag is most likely the result of the supplement's ability to boost healthy circulation as well as its high levels of antioxidant activity.

The scientists looked at 133 passengers who took flights that were seven to nine hours in length. These volunteer research subjects were given fifty mg of oral pycnogenol three times daily, for seven days, starting two days before their flights. Then the research subjects in the first part of the study were evaluated with a rating scale scoring system. Thirty-eight pycnogenol-treated and 30 control patients were rated to see how many experienced the most common symptoms of jet lag including dehydration and loss of appetite; headaches and/or sinus irritation; fatigue; disorientation and/or grogginess; nausea and/or upset stomach; insomnia and/or highly irregular sleep patterns; irritability; irrational behavior; alternation in mental performance (measured by solving an easy crossword puzzle); and the hours of duration of any signs and symptoms.

The results? At the end of the flight, there was a significantly lower score (56 percent) of jet lag problems in the pycnogenol group. What's more, symptoms lasted only for an average of 18.2 hours in the pine bark group , compared to 39.3 hours in the control group.

In a second group of 34 pine bark-treated people and 31 controls who did not receive the supplements, a brain CT scan was performed after the flight to look for brain alterations. Jet lag symptoms were also evaluated within 28 hours from the end of the flight. Specifically, the researchers documented sleep problems, short-term memory alterations, disorientation, neurological symptoms including anxiety, minor heart rate and blood pressure changes, lower limb swelling, fatigue , appetite loss, and joint and muscle pain. Remarkably, all these symptoms were significantly lower by in average 61.5% in the pycnogenol group compared to the untreated control group.

"This is the first study describing diffuse subliminal swellings of the brain after long haul flights, which we found to be reduced to less than half in the pycnogenol group. I'm encouraged by the results of the study as pycnogenol was effective in preventing jet lag related effects without any side effects," Dr. Belcaro said in a statement for the media.

In previous studies, pycnogenol has been shown to reduce edema and the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on long flights.

About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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