Patients with asymptomatic narrowing of a carotid artery (to the head) or femoral artery (to a leg) were tested for treatment with a combination of pycnogenol* and gotu kola (Centella asiatica). The patients had “stenosing** arteriosclerotic plaques”. The number of patients who completed the study was 391.
The patients were divided into three groups, and all groups received exercise, diet, and lifestyle change information. The first group received no herbs. The second group received pycnogenol 100 mg/day. The third group received pycnogenol 100 mg/day plus gotu kola 100 mg/day. The study lasted 4 years. The progression of plaques was evaluated with ultrasound and evaluation of the number of patients who became symptomatic from the narrowing of arteries.
Results of the study showed that those who took pycnogenol were less likely to show progression of the disease, especially those who also took gotu kola. The reduction of frequency of heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) was especially high in those who took pycnogenol and gotu kola. The numbers of transient ischemic attacks***, blood vessel disease of the extremities, and strokes (of the brain) were especially reduced in those taking supplements, with the combination working best. Those on the combination had the fewest hospitalizations for arteriosclerosis.
CONCLUSION: Pycnogenol and the combination of pycnogenol and gotu kola may prevent the progression of arteriosclerotic plaques, which leads to clinical disease with symptoms.
NOTES: *Pycnogenol is an antioxidant in red grapes and wine.
**Stenosing refers to narrowing of the space inside an artery blocking circulation.
***Transient ischemic attacks usually refer to a temporary drop in circulation to the brain, resulting in symptoms such as confusion or temporary loss of consciousness. Testing is needed to determine whether treatment is needed to prevent permanent loss of function.