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Best of Mitrogenol for Eye Health

January 25, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Glaucoma is an eye condition which affects approximately 2.5 million men and women in the United States alone. It is characterized by increased inner eye pressure which can cause damage to the optic nerve and, thereby, result in vision loss. Fortunately, the combination of two nutraceutical ingredients has recently shown a reduction in intraocular pressure and an improvement overall eye health. (1)

Patented extracts from European blueberries or bilberries and pine bark or Pycnogenol comprise a nutritional supplement by the name of Mitrogenol. A study published in the May 2010 issue of the journal Clinical Opthamology examined the effects of Mitrogenol in a group of 79 patients living with “asymptomatic ocular hypertension”. The participants were separated into three groups: a) received Mitrogenol (80 mg of Mitroselect bilberry extract and 40 mg of Pycnogenol) daily; b) applied a medicinal eye drop (Latanoprost) and; c) utilized both treatments. The trial lasted a total of 24 weeks and yielded the following results:

  • The Mitrogenol group lowered their intraocular pressure (IOP) from 38.1 to 29 mmHg or 24%.
  • The Latanoprost patients found an IOP reduction from 37.7 to 27.2 mmHg or 28%.
  • The combination group began with an IOP of 38 mmHg and ended with an IOP of 23 mmHg – a 40% reduction.
  • Healthy or normal eye pressure should range between about 10 to 21 mmHg.

In conclusion, the authors reported that, “The combination of both was more effective for lowering IOP and the combination yielded better retinal blood flow. No serious side effects occurred during the study, apart from standard side effects in patients related to Latanoprost”. According to the National Institutes of Health, Latanoprost may cause the following adverse reactions in some users: dry eyes, eye color changes, irritation and redness of the eyelids. (2,3)

One of the upsides to considering a natural supplement is that it often provides “side benefits”. The following summarizes some of the current, positive findings about the two individual components of Mitrogenol.

A trial presented in the March 2010 edition of the Journal of Nutrition documents increased insulin sensitivity and a reduction in blood glucose concentrations in diabetic mice fed a bilberry extract. In February 2010, researchers from Norway determined that 4 week’s worth of daily bilberry juice consumption effectively lowers a number of inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and interleukin-15) in human volunteers. In addition, a recent trial appearing in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry documents a decline in artery damage in mice fed bilberry extracts. Taken together, this research suggests that bilberries may be an important food and supplement in the natural management of diabetes and heart disease. (4,5,6)

Berries May Improve Carbohydrate Metabolism
Source: Int J Mol Sci. 2010; 11(4): 1365–1402. (link)

Pycnogenol is no shrinking violet when it comes to non-ocular health benefits as well. A study published in the June 2010 issue of the journal Hypertension reports that giving rats a combination of melatonin and Pycnogenol not only lowers systolic blood pressure but may also improve the integrity of “artery structure”. Improved endothelial function was similarly noted in the pine bark-fed rats. And, much like bilberry, Pycnogenol also appears to protect against diabetic complications such as kidney and liver damage. This is evidenced in both animal and human studies. (7,8,9)

You may or may not suffer from an eye condition at the moment. If you do, the information in today’s blog may be especially timely. But even if your eyes are in pristine health, that doesn’t mean they always will be. The ill effects of aging visits everyone who is fortunate enough to grow old. The good news is that select foods and supplements, including bilberries and pine bark extract, may help shield us from some of the damage that typically comes with time.

Update: January 2011 – Since composing this original column, a number of additional studies have been published about the health benefits of both bilberry and pine bark extract. Of particular interest is their influence on liver condition and function. You may be wondering what the liver has to do with eyesight. The connection is this: many health care consumers and patients are reasonably concerned about the potential side effects of taking medications and supplements. The liver is an organ that is frequently monitored for signs of medication and/or supplement-induced toxicity because it plays a major role in metabolizing drugs and supplements. But it’s also important to note that some natural substances, including bilberry and pine bark extract, may actually protect the liver. Several current publications reveal that both of these antioxidant-rich extracts possess the ability to reduce liver fibrosis and steatosis in animal models. The proposed mechanisms behind these positive observations are likely brought about via the “attenuation of mitochondrial dysfunction” and a reduction in inflammation, lipid build up (i.e. fatty liver disease) and oxidative damage in the liver. Many eye conditions and diseases require longer term treatment, so it’s good to know that select botanical extracts are unlikely to cause liver distress while supporting healthier vision. (10,11,12,13,14)

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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10 Comments & Updates to “Best of Mitrogenol for Eye Health”

  1. Sherry Giardiniere Says:

    Another good article. Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration are very prominent in my family so I am always on the lookout for natural ways to prevent both of these conditions.

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Sherry. 🙂

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Update: More evidence showing benefit of Pycnogenol (and other antioxidants) in diabetic retinopathy …


    Indian J Ophthalmol. 2015 Jan;63(1):9-14.

    Circulating levels of reactive oxygen species in patients with nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy and the influence of antioxidant supplementation: 6-month follow-up.

    AIMS: The aim was to evaluate circulating levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and changes in central macular thickness (CMT) in patients with nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) after antioxidant supplementation.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 68 patients (68 eyes) with NPDR were enrolled. Patients were randomly divided into two groups: Treated with antioxidant supplement (Group A) and untreated control group (Group B). Each tablet, for oral administration, containing pycnogenol 50 mg, Vitamin E 30 mg and coenzyme Q10 20 mg. CMT and free oxygen radical test (FORT) were analyzed at baseline (T0), 3 (T1) and 6 (T2) months in both groups.

    RESULTS: In Group A, FORT levels and CMT were significantly reduced over time (P < 0.001 for both). In Group B, FORT levels were increased (P < 0.001) and CMT did not vary significantly (P = 0.81) over 3 time points. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study showing the reduction of ROS levels in patients with NPDR thanks to antioxidant therapy. Moreover, our findings have suggested also an influence on retinal thickness. Be well! JP

  4. JP Says:

    Update: Maqui berry extract shows promise re: dry eye symptoms …


    Panminerva Med. 2014 Sep;56(3 Suppl 1):1-6.

    MaquiBright™ standardized maqui berry extract significantly increases tear fluid production and ameliorates dry eye-related symptoms in a clinical pilot trial.

    AIM: Dry eye symptoms, resulting from insufficient tear fluid generation, represent a considerable burden for a largely underestimated number of people. We concluded from earlier pre-clinical investigations that the etiology of dry eyes encompasses oxidative stress burden to lachrymal glands and that antioxidant MaquiBright™ Aristotelia chilensis berry extract helps restore glandular activity.

    METHODS: In this pilot trial we investigated 13 healthy volunteers with moderately dry eyes using Schirmer test, as well as a questionnaire which allows for estimating the impact of dry eyes on daily routines. Study participants were assigned to one of two groups, receiving MaquiBright™ at daily dosage of either 30 mg (N.=7) or 60 mg (N.=6) over a period of 60 days. Both groups presented with significantly (P<0.05) improved tear fluid volume already after 30 days treatment. Schirmer test showed an increase from baseline 16.3±2.6 mm to 24.4±4.8 mm (P<0.05) with 30 mg MaquiBright™ and from 18.7±1.9 mm to 27.6±3.4 mm with 60 mg (P<0.05), respectively. Following treatment with 30 mg MaquiBright™ for further 30 days, tear fluid volume dropped slightly to 20.5±2.8 mm, whereas the improvement persisted with 60 mg treatment at 27.1±2.7 mm after 60 days treatment (P<0.05 vs. baseline).

    RESULTS: The burden of eye dryness on daily routines was evaluated employing the "Dry Eye-related Quality of life Score" (DEQS), with values spanning from zero (impact) to a maximum score of 60. Participants had comparable baseline values of 41.0±7.7 (30 mg) and 40.2±6.3 (60 mg). With 30 mg treatment the score significantly decreased to 21.8±3.9 and 18.9±3.9, after 30 and 60 days, respectively. With 60 mg treatment the DEQS significantly decreased to 26.9±5.3 and 11.1±2.7, after 30 and 60 days, respectively. Blood was drawn for safety analyses (complete blood rheology and -chemistry) at all three investigative time points without negative findings.

    CONCLUSION: In conclusion, while daily supplementation with 30 mg MaquiBright™ is effective, the dosage of 60 significantly increased tear fluid volume at all investigative time points and decreased dry eye symptoms to almost a quarter from initial values after two months treatment.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Update 04/30/15:


    J Nutr Health Aging. 2015;19(5):548-554.

    Bilberry Extract Supplementation for Preventing Eye Fatigue in Video Display Terminal Workers.

    OBJECTIVES: To examine the effect of a dietary supplement containing bilberry extract (BE) on eye fatigue induced by acute video display terminal (VDT) loads.

    DESIGN AND SETTING: A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was performed from August 2012 to February 2013 in the Medical Corporation Jico-kai Yagi Hospital, and the Shinyokohama Shinoharaguchi Orthopedic Surgery and Dermatology Clinic, in Japan.

    PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred eighty-one office workers aged 20-40 years that used VDTs were screened by critical flicker fusion (CFF) and near point accommodation (NPA).

    INTERVENTION: The participants were randomized to either a BE (480 mg/day) or placebo (vehicle) group, and took allocated capsule, daily, for 8 weeks.

    MEASUREMENTS: The CFF, NPA, contrast visual acuity, functional visual acuity, keratoconjunctival epithelial damage, and fluorescein tear film break-up time were examined, and 18 subjective symptoms of eye fatigue were evaluated by questionnaire. Adverse events were reported via medical interviews. Data were collected both before and after VDT load at baseline, and 4, and 8 weeks after daily supplementation with either BE or placebo.

    RESULTS: Of 281 participants screened, 88 having relatively lower levels of CFF and NPA were enrolled in the study. Of these, 37 control and 43 BE group subjects completed the study. The VDT load-induced reduction in CFF was alleviated after 8 weeks of BE supplementation (95% confidence interval, 0.10-1.60; p=0.023), in contrast to placebo supplementation, while NPA variation was not. Of the subjective symptoms of eye fatigue, VDT load-induced ocular fatigue sensation, ocular pain, eye heaviness, uncomfortable sensation, and foreign body sensation were mitigated more in the BE group than in the control group, at week 8 (p<0.05). There were no severe adverse events in either group.

    CONCLUSIONS: BE supplementation improved some of the objective and subjective parameters of eye fatigue induced by VDT loads.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Update 05/18/15:


    Panminerva Med. 2015 Sep;57(3):121-5.

    Recurrence of retinal vein thrombosis with Pycnogenol® or Aspirin® supplementation: a registry study.

    AIM: The aim of this study was to use Pycnogenol® to reduce the recurrence of retinal vein thrombosis (RVT) after a first episode. Pycnogenol® is an anti-inflammatory, anti-edema and an antiplatelet agent with a “mild” antithrombotic activity. The registry, using Pycnogenol® was aimed at reducing the number of repeated episodes of RVT.

    METHODS: Possible management options – chosen by patients – were: standard management; standard management + oral Aspirin® 100 mg once/day (if there were no tolerability problems before admission); standard management + Pycnogenol® two 50 mg capsules per day (for a total of 100 mg/day). Number of subjects, age, sex, distribution, percentage of smokers, and vision were comparable.

    RESULTS: Recurrent RVT was seen in 17.39% of controls and in 3.56% of subjects supplemented with Pycnogenol® (P<0.05 vs. controls). There was RVT in 15.38% of the subjects using Aspirin®. The incidence of RVT was 4.88 times higher with standard management in comparison with the supplement group and 4.32 lower with Pycnogenol® supplementation in comparison with Aspirin®. Vision level was better with Pycnogenol® (20/25 at nine months; P<0.05). With Pycnogenol®, edema at the retinal level was also significantly reduced compared to the other groups. Pycnogenol® has a very good safety profile. In the Aspirin® group 26 completed 9 months and 6 subjects dropped out for tolerability problems. In the Aspirin® group, 2 minor, subclinical, retinal, hemorrhagic episodes during the follow-up were observed (2 subjects out of 26, equivalent to 7.69%). This pilot registry indicates that Pycnogenol® seems to reduce the recurrence of RVT without side effects. It does not induce new hemorrhagic episodes that may be theoretically linked to the use of Aspirin® (or other antiplatelets).

    CONCLUSION: Larger studies should be planned involving a wider range of conditions, diseases and risk factors associated to RVT and to its recurrence.

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Updated 08/06/15:


    Saudi J Ophthalmol. 2015 Jul-Sep;29(3):197-200.

    Efficacy and safety of 1% forskolin eye drops in open angle glaucoma – An open label study.

    PURPOSE: Current treatment for glaucoma includes beta-blockers and prostaglandin analogues which have their own disadvantages. Thus a need exists for new ocular hypotensive agents that are more efficacious and have fewer side effects. Therefore, forskolin eye drops 1%, through herbal product; a clinical trial was carried out for the safety and efficacy in the treatment of open angle glaucoma.

    METHODS: Ninety adult male/female patients of 18-60 years of age, of either sex, suffering from open angle glaucoma with an intraocular pressure (IOP) of more than 24 mm Hg were enrolled in the study. Patients were advised to instill 2 drops thrice a day (8:00 h, 14:00 h and 20:00 h) and tonometric readings were recorded on baseline visit and on Visit 2, i.e. end of 1st week, Visit 3-2nd week, Visit 4-3rd week, and Visit 5-4th week. The reduction in IOP across each time point from untreated baseline visit and reduction in IOP across various study visits were measured.

    RESULTS: The mean (95% CI) difference in reduction in IOP was 4.5 mm Hg (P < 0.05) in the right eye and was 5.4 mm Hg (p < 0.05) in the left eye from baseline visit (Visit 1) to final visit (Visit 5). CONCLUSIONS: Forskolin 1% eye drops can be a safe alternative to beta blockers in glaucoma patients having concomitant asthma. Be well! JP

  8. JP Says:

    Updated 11/07/15:


    Clin Ophthalmol. 2015 Oct 22;9:1981-8.

    Short-term effects of relaxation music on patients suffering from primary open-angle glaucoma.

    PURPOSE: To evaluate whether additive relaxation music (RM) has an adjuvant short-term effect on physiological and psychological parameters in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma.

    METHODS: Prospective, randomized clinical trial. Patients in the therapy group (TG) received a 30-minute RM via headphones, whereas members of the control group (CG) did not. Best corrected visual acuity, intraocular pressure, visual field testing, short- and long-term mental states, and blood levels of different stress hormones were analyzed and compared.

    RESULTS: A total of 25 (61%)/16 (39%) patients were assigned to the TG/CG. Best corrected visual acuity, daily intraocular pressure, and short-term mental state (KAB) development were significantly better in the TG in comparison to controls. Visual field testing, long-term mental well-being (profile of mood states), and adrenalin, cortisol, and endothelin-I blood levels did not differ significantly between both groups.

    CONCLUSION: Additive RM applied on a daily basis can positively impact various physiological and psychological parameters in the short term.

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Updated 2/4/16:


    Cesk Slov Oftalmol. 2015 Winter;71(6):288-92.

    [ProVens® in the Therapy of Glaucoma and Ocular Hypertension].

    OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of the ProVens® dietary supplement administration on intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma and ocular hypertension.

    MATERIAL AND METHODS: The patients included in the trial were given the ProVens® dietary supplement once daily. One ProVens® tablet contains: 50 mg of maritime pine bark extract, 100 mg of green tea extract, and 3 mg of blueberry extract. The main ProVens® components are proanthocyanins from the bark of the maritime pine tree Pinus pinaster, polyphenols from green tea, and anthocyanins from blueberries. The total number of patients included in the trial was 46. Out of these, 35 patients were monitored for asymptomatic ocular hypertension and 11 patients for open-angle glaucoma treated with prostaglandin analogs. Intraocular pressure was measured by applanation tonometry in the beginning of the trial, after one month, and after three months of their inclusion in the trial, always at the same time of the day.

    RESULTS: In the group of patients with ocular hypertension, there was a statistically significant reduction in the intraocular pressure from the baseline values of 24.2 ± 2.1 mm Hg to 20.9 ± 2.5 mm Hg within the period of three months (p < 0.0001). In the group of patients with open-angle glaucoma, there was a statistically significant reduction of the intraocular pressure from the baseline values of 18.4 ± 3.2 mm Hg to 17.0 ± 3.1 mm Hg within the period of three months since the beginning of administration of the product (p = 0.022). When comparing both groups, we observed a significantly higher reduction in intraocular pressure (p = 0.0001) in the group of patients with ocular hypertension. In the whole group, no adverse effects were reported during the intake of this dietary supplement. CONCLUSION: Intake of the ProVens® dietary supplement containing proanthocyanins from the bark of the maritime pine tree Pinus pinaster together with a mixture of herbal antioxidants appears to be one of the methods of how to improve the control of intraocular pressure, particularly in patients with ocular hypertension. Be well! JP

  10. JP Says:

    Updated 06/26/16:


    Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2016 Jun;20(11):2418-24.

    Bilberry extracts are not created equal: the role of non anthocyanin fraction. Discovering the “dark side of the force” in a preliminary study.

    OBJECTIVE: Several experimental studies and clinical trials support the potential of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L) extracts in promoting eye health and circulation. Many active ingredients have been isolated from the berries and leaves of the bilberry plant. However, anthocyanins represent the most widely studied bioactive compounds in this plant.

    PATIENTS AND METHODS: The aim of this registry, supplement study was to evaluate the effects of Mirtoselect® (standardized in 36% anthocyanins and obtained by an industrial extraction process that preserves the full range of the non-anthocyanin components, mainly natural sugars and polyphenols) in different types of retinal vasculopathies. In total, 140 patients with different types of retinopathy spontaneously decided to join one of the following groups: standard management (SM) only (n=38); SM associated with Mirtoselect® supplementation (n=47); SM associated with a generic bilberry extract supplementation (n=55). Retinal circulatory parameters and flow measurements of the retinal vessels were evaluated at the inclusion and after 6-months supplementation.

    RESULTS: Overall, significant improvements in several retinal circulatory parameters such as retinal blood flow velocity, with respect to the values at inclusion, were observed in both supplementation groups, especially in Mirtoselect® supplementation group. However, at 6 months, inter-group comparison revealed a statistical advantage in all tested parameters for Mirtoselect® supplementation groups. No side effects or tolerability concerns were reported.

    CONCLUSIONS: Our registry study suggests that Mirtoselect® supplementation could represent an effective and safe integrated approach for the treatment of different retinopathies.

    Be well!


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