Travel Health

Pine Bark and Jet Lag relief have to say that I am a little skeptical on this one, but I am interested in anything to help fight off “jet-lag”!  Medical News Today featured an article, last month, about an Italian study that looked at symptoms of jet lag being relieved with pine bark extract.  The original article was published in Minerva Cardioangiologica.

Pine bark extract contains Pycnogenol, an ingredient derived from maritime pine trees, growing along the coast of Southwestern France.  This plant extract is new to me and also new to be considered as an intervention for jet lag.  Know uses for Pycnogenol are as a dietary supplement and antioxidant. 

The study looked at 133 passengers who traveled on flights from seven to nine hours in length.  Passengers were divided into two groups, one completing a questionnaire and the other group receiving a CT scan for cerebral edema,  within 28 hours of the flight ending and a pre-travel questionnaire.

Travelers reported on severity of “jet-lag” symptoms 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 and/or irrational behavior
  • alternation in mental performance (assessed with a simple crossword)
  • alternations in general wellbeing
  • hours of duration of any signs/symptoms
  • nights of altered/disturbed sleep

The researchers found a 56% reduction for all symptoms, in the group that used Pycnogenol, versus the control group.  The group that received CT scans, post flight, showed a 61% reduction in symptoms such as:  sleep alteration, memory disturbances, neurological symptoms of instability, variations of heart rate, temperature and blood pressure, limb swelling, vertigo and other non-specific signs such as cramping, blurry vision and muscular pain.

Doses of Pycnogenol used were 50 milligrams, taken three time per day.  Travelers started 2 days before their flight and continued for five days at their destination.

Lead researcher Dr. Gianni Belcaro was quoted “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,” in the article.

Pycnogenol has also been touted as a travel related DVT preventative, for long flights, as well.

I am not rushing out to by this product, yet.  But, the research does hold promise, in my opinion.  I will stick with caffeine and bright sunlight to help me fight off jet lag, plus a little exercise the first morning there never hurts.


  1. I think it would be great if you could throw a pill (or many pills over the course of a few days) at jet lag and get “the cure.” The contraindications, which don’t appear on the distributor’s Web site mentioned above, nor on any of the Web sites purporting to review the product, but actually selling the product, were difficult to find online, but they are pretty daunting: (see

    “Individuals who have autoimmune conditions should not take pine bark extract due to its effects on the immune system. Some autoimmune conditions include:
    • Crohn’s disease
    • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
    • Psoriasis
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
    • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
    • Type 1 diabetes”

    and much more.

    Caffeine and bright light? Now you’re talking! You must be familiar with the work of the late Dr. Charles F. Ehret.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment! I am embarassed to say that I was unfamiliar with Dr. Ehret’s work, prior to reading your blog.

    Your site is very informative and should be read by anybody who looks to arrive at their destination “ready to hit it” and not be bogged down with jet lag symptoms!


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