PYCNOGENOL (PINE BARK EXTRACT)
Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
Pycnogenol is a patented extract of French maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster) which is standardized to contain 65-75% procyanidins (flavonoids and polyphenols) which are regarded as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory natural agents. Other potent antioxidants found in pine bark extract are phenolic acids [>, >].
Pycnogenol affects many vital processes in human body including gene expression, cognition, blood vessels, and metabolism.
It neutralizes free radicals protecting body cells against oxidative stress. It also boosts other antioxidant enzymes in the body. It helps regenerate vitamin C and E, slowing down ageing and helping prolong the lifespan.
Pycnogenol’s active compounds have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, reduce allergies, and support immune system.
Pycnogenol is also very effective in boosting nitric oxide in human body, which relaxes and protects blood vessels [>], enhancing both female and male sexual function.
Pycnogenol is a nootropic, improves cognition, enhances exercise performance, and benefits people with ADHD, high blood pressure and blood glucose levels [>].
PINE BARK EXTRACT VS PYCNOGENOL
Pycnogenol is officially extracted from the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), which grows in the south-west coast of France [>].
However, similar extracts are made from other pine barks, including Pinus thunbergii, Pinus radiata, Pinus densiflora, or Pinus massoniana. They usually have similar amounts of active compounds and are often sold under the brand name Pycnogenol [>].
Some of these pine bark extracts can have different active compounds that are not found in original pycnogenol. For instance, an extract from a pine native to Taiwan (Pinus massoniana) is known to have anticancer active substance [>].
An extract from a pine that grows in California and Mexico (Pinus radiata) contains Enzogenol which has a potential to be powerful cognitive enhancer. Trees of this pine genus have been naturalized in New Zealand and Australia, where most Enzogenol is now made [>].
HOW DOES IT ACT IN THE BODY
What’s special about pine bark extract is that some of its active compound naturally act in the body as a sustained-release substances. When you take pine bark extract [>], small molecule antioxidants (catechins, phenolic acids and taxifolin) are quickly absorbed from intestines into blood and start to act within just about 30 minutes. However, the long chains of procyanidins are much more complex antioxidants. When they reach the gut, the probiotic bacteria present there, slowly breaks them down into absorbable active compounds that appear in the blood six hours later and remain there for at least fourteen hours! That’s why pine bark extract provides a safe and long-lasting flow of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances [>, >].
The dosage used in most human studies varied between 50-360 mg/day. The average recommended standard dose is 100-200 mg/day.
This dose is equally effective taken at one time or divided into two doses throughout the day.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF PYCNOGENOL
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION (ED)
The combination of two antioxidants – l-arginine and pycnogenol – is a safe and effective method to overcome erectile dysfunction. It works by boosting nitric oxide, which restores proper blood flow in males with erectile dysfunction.
In an experiment involving 40 men with erectile dysfunction, 92.5% of them taking l-arginine and pycnogenol regained normal erections after 3 months. Pycnogenol was gradually increased to 120 mg/day over this time period, while the l-arginine was maintained at 1.7 g/day throughout. Another group of men who took just l-arginine didn’t improve! [>] This surprising result seems to prove pine bark extract to be more important in addressing ED than l-arginine.
In another study, a combination of Pycnogenol 60 mg/day, L-arginine 690 mg/day and aspartic acid 552 mg/day, improved erectile dysfunction and sexual satisfaction after 2 months. It also decreased blood pressure and increased testosterone [>].
NATURAL CGMP INHIBITOR
The production of cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate) is essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy erection because cGMP has the greatest influence over the blood vessels that help to boost the blood flow in penis while preventing the blood from leaving it. Unfortunately, men with erectile dysfunction have high levels of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase-5 (Pde5) which has been shown to destroy cGMP. Since cGMP is so important for the health and function of the blood vessels when achieving an erection, the lower its levels the more pronounced erectile dysfunction will be. The more cGMP in the blood, the better erection, or the more pronounced penal engorgement.
Prescribed medication that are known as cGMP inhibitors include sildenafil (Viagra, Pfizer), vardenafil (Levitra and Staxyn, Bayer/GlaxoSmithKline), tadalafil (Cialis, Eli Lilly), and avanafil (Stendra, Vivus). However, due to the risk of abuse and side effects, pharmaceutical Pde5 inhibitors, and a more recently approved drug, avanafil (Stendra, Vivus).) are not available over-the-counter.
Fortunately, there are some herbal and nutritional supplements that have shown ability to work as Pde5 inhibitors. The most effective one seems to be Pycnogenol (or Pine bark extract) or Pinus pinaster bark extract. It naturally Inhibits Pde5 and also improves nitric oxide production by boosting levels of the enzyme, nitric oxide synthase (NOS), a precursor to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide production is the first step in increasing cGMP levels. Pycnogenol seems to give even better results when combined with L-arginine.
Pycnogenol works by boosting nitric oxide, which restores obstructed blood flow in men with erectile dysfunction. In a clinical trial, 92.5% of the men with erectile dysfunction on the combination of Pycnogenol (gradually increased to 120 mg/day) and L-Arginine (maintained at 1.7 g/day), regained normal erections after 3 months. Another group of men who took only L-Arginine didn’t improve at all [>]. Study conclusion: “Treatment with a combination of L-arginine and Pycnogenol for the following month increased the number of men with restored sexual ability to 80%. Finally, after the third month of treatment, 92.5% of the men experienced a normal erection. We conclude that oral administration of L-arginine in combination with Pycnogenol causes a significant improvement in sexual function in men with ED without any side effects.” [>]
In another study, a similar combination of Pycnogenol (60 mg/day) and L-Arginine (690 mg/day) and Aspartic Acid (552 mg/day), improved erectile dysfunction and sexual satisfaction in men after two months. In addition, it also lowered high blood pressure and improved testosterone levels [>].
MALE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
In a trial involving 50 mildly infertile men, a supplement containing combination of L-arginine, L-citrulline, Roburins, and Pycnogenol, improved sperm concentration, quality, and volume [>].
In a rat experiment, pine bark extract prevented the development of benign prostate overgrowth and increased prostate function and health [>].
SEXUAL FUNCTION IN WOMEN
In a study with 100 middle-aged women experiencing a mild sexual dysfunction, pycnogenol combined with stress reduction and a healthy diet, improved all aspects of sexual function after 2 months, with no side effects [>].
In a study of 35 menopausal women, (100 mg of Pycnogenol per day, reduced menopausal symptoms, homocysteine and inflammation, after 2 months [>].
In 170 women, 60 mg of pine bark extract per day improved menopausal symptoms (especially night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, and sleep problems) after 3 months [>].
In a clinical trial of 83 postmenopausal women, Pycnogenol improved sexual function (increased desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and reduced pain) over 2 months with no adverse effects [>].
The ability of pine bark extract to increase nitric oxide and protect blood vessels against oxidative damage is associated with various health benefits including heart health, erectile dysfunction, diabetes complications, exercise performance, poor cognition, chronic inflammation, and even – very common today – autoimmune diseases [>].
Nitric oxide is crucial for relaxing blood vessels, while low levels can turn blood vessels rigid and susceptible to damage.
In one study, increased nitric oxide from Pycnogenol (180 mg/day) improved blood flow in forearms of 16 healthy men after 2 weeks [>].
A daily dose of 200 mg of Pycnogenol improved blood vessel health in 23 people with clogged arteries. It relaxed their blood vessels and protected them by reducing oxidative stress [>].
HEART HEALTH & BLOOD PRESSURE
Medication used to treat hypertension, often causes swelling. Pycnogenol, however, is able to reduce this swelling while protecting blood vessels against oxidative damage an lowering high blood pressure according to one study. In this way, it can help reduce the dose of these medications (nifedipine and ACE inhibitors) and side effects caused by them [>].
Pycnogenol helps lower blood pressure by reducing free radical damage to blood vessels, by reducing inflammation, and especially by increasing nitric oxide which relaxes blood vessels. According to a research involving analysis of over 500 people, 150-200 mg of pine bark extract a day for at least 3 months, reduces both diastolic and systolic blood pressure without side effects [>].
In 58 people with high blood pressure, 100 mg of Pycnogenol per day improved arterial health and reduced high blood pressure after 2 months. It also helped reduce dosage of the high-blood-pressure medication, nifedipine [>].
In 23 people with hypertension and heart disease, 200 mg of Pycnogenol per day significantly improved blood vessel function and heart health after 2 months [>].
In a trial with 25 people, a combination of pycnogenol, l-arginine, alpha lipoic acid, B vitamins, and vitamin K2, protected blood vessels against oxidative damage and calcification, an lowered high homocysteine levels and blood pressure [>].
A combination of pycnogenol and CoQ10, improved heart health after 3 months in a study of 32 people with heart failure [>].
In a clinical trial with 48 people, 125 mg/day of pine bark extract reduced LDL cholesterol in those with type 2 diabetes after 3 months. Interestingly, in another study with 40 people, a higher daily dose of 360 mg of Pycnogenol had the same LDL-lowering benefits after 1 month [>, >].
In a study involving 25 healthy subjects, a daily dose of 150 mg of Pycnogenol reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and increased HDL (beneficial) cholesterol after 6 weeks [>].
EXERCISE PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY
Pycnogenol was able to reduce muscle fatigue and muscle damage by preventing the short-term raise in the production of harmful free radicals (cause of muscle damage and pain) after intense exercise. The same study revealed that pine bark extract can increase endurance performance [>].
In a study involving 147 people, a daily dose of 100 mg of Pycnogenol, improved sit-ups endurance, push-ups & running over a 2-month training program. 150 mg per day enhanced swimming & biking scores in athletes preparing for a triathlon. Pine bark extract also reduced muscle cramps & pain, and improved triathlon time scores [>].
According to another trial, 200 mg of Pycnogenol per day, reduced muscle pain & cramps in 66 healthy people, athletes, and subjects with blood vessel problems after one month [>].
An antioxidant cocktail with pine bark extract, increased endurance by 17%. In another study involving cyclists, the same Pycnogenol supplement, also increased muscle endurance and performance after a single dose taken before the training [>, >].
BLOOD GLUCOSE & DIABETES
According to one study, the optimum and most effective blood sugar-lowering dose of Pycnogenol was 200 mg per day (increasing this amount didn’t improve the results) [>].
According to studies, Pycnogenol only reduces blood glucose but without improving insulin sensitivity and without increasing insulin production (which is good as too much insulin was found to contribute to PCOS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Obesity and other problems).
There is some evidence that, Pine bark extract can prevent diabetic neuropathy, eye damage and blindness caused by chronic high blood glucose levels. For instance, in a trial involving 24 subjects with early eye damage caused by diabetes, Pycnogenol improved vision, blood circulation and oxygenation in the eye, and reduced eye swelling after eight weeks [>].
Also in a study with 86 participants suffering from diabetic eye damage, a combination of Pycnogenol, vitamin E, and Coenzyme Q10, improved eye health [>].
DOTAD TEXT ZOSTAL ZMIENIONY, OD CHOLESTEROL NIE ZOSTAL ZMIENIONY NA MOJ
COGNITIVE FUNCTION AND BRAIN FOG
Pycnogenol is a promising and safe nootropic. It seems to work remarkably well both for middle-aged professionals, students, and people with mild cognitive decline like brain fog.
In a clinical trial of 60 health professionals, pycnogenol (150 mg/day) improved cognitive function, attention, mental performance and specific professional skills after 12 weeks. It boosted sustained attention, memory, executive functions, mood, and reduced oxidative stress [>].
In a trial of 53 students, pycnogenol improved cognitive function, memory, attention, mood, and mental performance after 8 weeks [>].
Pycnogenol (100 mg/day) given to 44 older healthy people with high oxidative stress improved cognitive function, attention, mental performance, and reduced oxidative stress by 28% after 12 months [>].
Pycnogenol also improved cognitive function in 78 people with mild cognitive impairment. All included participants had “subclinical” cognitive impairment, which looks like typical brain fog. The mean cognitive boost after 8 weeks of pycnogenol at 150 mg/day was 18%, which was significant [>].
Enzogenol, a slightly different pine bark extract, improved cognitive function in a clinical trial of 42 older men after just 5 weeks of supplementation [>].
Overall, the evidence is convincing. Pycnogenol at a dose of 100-150 mg/day can safely and potently boost cognition and reduce oxidative stress if used for at least 5-8 weeks, although there seems to be no harm to longer use either.
Pycnogenol protected nerve cells and prevented brain inflammation in mice. It reduced inflammation markers in supportive brain cells – microglia – and protected dopamine neurons, preventing Parkinson’s disease [>].
It also prevented Parkinson’s disease in mice and reduced brain damage by combating oxidative stress in the brain. It restored dopamine levels and activity in the brain, crucial for this disease [>].
In brain cells, it prevented damage by turning off inflammatory pathways and genes (Nf-kB, iNOS) [>].
In mice with stress-induced depression, pycnogenol reduced inflammation in the brain and improved mood, reducing overall depression symptoms [>].
No humans studies backed this up yet.
CONCUSSIONS & TBI
Enzogenol, a slightly different pine bark extract, may help improve brain function after mild concussions. It decreased concussion symptoms in 42 student-athletes with a history of sport-related concussions after 6 weeks. Enzogenol also reduced mental fatigue and sleep problems [>].
Pycnogenol protected the brain from traumatic brain injury (TBI) in several rat studies. It could prevent damage to brain regions important for cognition and memory – the cortex and hippocampus – given right after the trauma [>, >].
Pycnogenol could also maintain synapses after injury, which help brain cells effectively communicate [>].
In mice, pine bark extract enhanced the sleep-inducing effects of sedatives (barbiturates) with no side effects. Active compounds in this extract probably enhance GABA activity in the brain, which promotes sleep and relaxation [>].
LONGEVITY & AGEING
Due to such wide-ranging beneficial effects, some researchers got the idea that pycnogenol may boost longevity and slow down the ageing process. As hard as this is to prove, some researchers have attempted it:
In elderly people, pycnogenol enhances DNA repair and reduces oxidative stress [>]
In 101 elderly people, pycnogenol (150 mg/day) improved cognition and reduced free radicals [>]
Pycnogenol improved mobility in older people with osteoarthritis
Plus, we know that it reduces symptoms of menopause and erectile dysfunction
So all the evidence points to the fact that pycnogenol can certainly promote healthy ageing [>].
Encouraged by these findings, a group of scientists in New Zealand is currently running a study to see if pycnogenol combined with Bacopa can promote healthy ageing and longevity [>].
Pycnogenol can broadly target metabolic syndrome, acting as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It can protect the blood vessels, boost weight loss and fats metabolism, as well as reduce excessive blood clotting [>].
Pycnogenol (150 mg/day) reduced risk of metabolic syndrome in a trial of 132 people at high risk after 6 months. It beneficially affected virtually all risk factors: lowering triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and fasting glucose, decreasing waist circumference, and increasing HDL cholesterol levels. Plus, it reduced free radicals it the blood [>].
In 50 overweight people, a combination product (Pycnogenol, Madeglucyl, and starches called Glucaffect) reduced weight, BMI, blood glucose, and HbA1C after 8 weeks [>].
According to several clinical trials, pycnogenol can safely control the symptoms of asthma.
Pycnogenol (up to 200 mg/day) improved asthma in 26 people and reduced inflammatory asthma markers in the blood, leukotrienes, after 4 weeks [>].
In a trial of 60 children with mild-to-moderate asthma, 18 of 30 patients who took pycnogenol in were able to stop using their inhaler. Overall, it greatly reduced daily inhaler use (Albuterol) and lowered leukotrienes by 38%, while the control group slightly worsened [>].
In 76 people with allergic asthma, Pycnogenol (100 mg/day) added to conventional corticosteroid inhalers for 6 months helped 55% of them reduce inhaler use frequency and dosage. In contrast, almost 20% of those just on inhalers had to increase their dosage. Pycnogenol also reduced cough, night-awakenings, improved airway flow, and the need for additional asthma medication [>].
In a trial of 39 people with hay fever, pycnogenol greatly reduced nose and eye symptoms. The placebo group also had much higher IgE antibodies to the birch allergen than those who took pycnogenol during the allergy season [>].
Importantly, all studies found that pycnogenol has to be taken at least 5 weeks before the allergy season, with the best results in those who take it 7-8 weeks ahead. In one study, it had no effects when given just 3 weeks beforehand, as it requires a lag time to stabilize the immune response [>].
In rats with allergies, pycnogenol reduced inflammatory substances IL-4, IFN-gamma, and TNF-alpha, lowering the overall allergic response [>].
Antioxidant treatment with pycnogenol can balance the immune system, lower inflammation, epigenetically regulate genes, and reduce oxidative stress in ADHD – something majorly overlooked approaches that just use stimulant drugs. Several clinical trials back up its potential for helping children and adults with ADHD [>].
People with ADHD also have higher than normal adrenaline and dopamine levels, which worsen oxidative stress. Daily pycnogenol (1 mg/kg) for one month reduced hyperactivity symptoms by lowering dopamine, adrenaline, and increasing the master antioxidant glutathione in a clinical trial of 57 ADHD children [>].
In 61 ADHD children, pycnogenol reduced hyperactivity, improved attention, and motorics after 1 month. But a month after pycnogenol was stopped, the symptoms came back, suggesting that it may need to be used regularly to achieve the benefits [>].
In one trial of children with ADHD, pycnogenol improved attention by increasing the total antioxidant status and reducing DNA damage. In another, pycnogenol increased glutathione levels and total antioxidants after a month in children with ADHD [>, >].
In 24 adults with ADHD, pycnogenol improved symptoms after 3 weeks, but not better than placebo. Low pycnogenol dosage and short study duration may explain the lack of benefits in this study [>].
INFLAMMATION AND OSTEOARTHRITIS
According to a large analysis, pycnogenol greatly reduces osteoarthritis symptoms and pain short-term. It acts as a sustained-release formulation, so taking it just once daily is enough to alleviate the pain and reduce inflammation [>, >].
In 33 people with severe osteoarthritis, pycnogenol (200 mg/day) reduced inflammatory markers after just 3 weeks. It epigenetically turned off genes responsible for joint damage (ADAMTS), reduced inflammation enzymes (MMP3) and cytokines (IL 1-beta). Its active components could enter the circulation, joints, and white blood cells to achieve these effects [>, >].
In one clinical trial of 156 osteoarthritis patients, pycnogenol reduced pain, stiffness, swelling, and improved joint function after 3 months. In a smaller study of 58 people, pycnogenol reduced the important inflammatory marker CRP from 3.9 mg/l to 1.1 mg/l [>, >].
Pycnogenol (150 mg/day) reduced pain in a study of 100 people with osteoarthritis after 3 months, reducing the need to take painkillers [>].
Similar to NSAID drugs, pycnogenol blocks key inflammatory enzymes (COX1 and COX2). In one study, people who took pycnogenol had reduced activity of these enzymes in the blood. According to the labs of 10 volunteers, a higher pycnogenol dose (300 mg) impacts these enzymes after just 30 minutes [>].
In 7 volunteers, pycnogenol (300 mg) for 5 days reduced the activity of a crucial inflammatory gene (NF-κB) [>].
In a study of 11 patients with lupus, pycnogenol reduced symptoms, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Since lupus is an autoimmune disease with a strong inflammatory component, pycnogenol could help reduce some of its key symptoms [>].
PAIN IN PREGNANCY
Low-dose pycnogenol (30 mg/day) reduced the pain in pregnant women, particularly hip, joint, lower back, groin, and calf cramps in the third trimester [>].
Pine bark extract helped fight a viral heart infection in mice. It reduced the amount of viruses in the bloodstream, suppressed inflammatory markers, and prevented heart damage [>].
Pycnogenol may potentially also help with hepatitis C by reducing oxidative stress. In cellular studies, it could directly block hepatitis C from dividing [>].
Chewing gum with pycnogenol (2.5 mg/piece) for 4 weeks reduced bad breath and mouth bacteria in a trial of 22 people [>].
WOUNDS & SCARS
Pycnogenol improved wound healing time and reduced skin scarring after by 20% in rats [>].
In a clinical trial of 116 women, pycnogenol (60 mg/day) reduced menstrual pain and the need for additional painkillers, taken over 2 cycles. The longer it was taken, the stronger it reduced pain, while the benefits were maintained for a while even after stopping supplementation [>].
In another study of 47 women, supplementing with 30 mg Pycnogenol twice daily reduced menstrual pain used over 1 month [>].
VEIN DISEASES & SWELLING
Pycnogenol (100 mg/day) reduced leg swelling, spider veins, and cramps in 133 women with varicose veins who recently gave birth over 6 months. It had stronger benefits than elastic compression stockings. Plus, women taking pycnogenol were more satisfied and compliant to the regimen [>].
Pycnogenol (150 mg/day) helped heal vein ulcers from surgery and reduced swelling in 30 people after 3 months [>].
When pycnogenol cream was added to oral supplements in 18 people with vein ulcers, it helped ulcers heal even quicker [>].
In one study, pycnogenol even helped prevent oedema and ankle swelling from long flights in a study of 211 people with no side effects [>].
Pycnogenol improved symptoms, circulation, and reduced complications in 156 people with deep vein thrombosis (blot clots in deep leg veins) over one year. It had the best results when combined with compression stockings, but worked just as well alone [>].
Pycnogenol (100 mg/day) supplementation decreased symptoms of the common cold and sped up recovery in a clinical trial of 146 people. It reduced cold symptoms and complications, the number of lost working days, and the use of over-the-counter medications compared to those who did not supplement with the extract [>].
In a trial of 84 people, both Pycnogenol supplements and creams (0.5%) completely prevented haemorrhoids from bleeding during acute attacks after 7 days. In contrast, bleeding still occurred in the control group [>].
Pycnogenol can help reduce symptoms of melasma, a form of hyperpigmentation, because it protects against UV rays. Pycnogenol (75 mg/day) reduced the skin area affected by melasma as well as lowers symptoms of fatigue, constipation, body pain, and anxiety in 30 women after 30 days [>].
Pycnogenol can boost antioxidative defence, according to both human and animal studies. Pycnogenol supplementation (150 mg/day) increased antioxidant status and reduced free radicals and oxidative damage in a clinical trial of 25 people after just 3 weeks [>, >, >].
In 78 smokers, pycnogenol (50mg/day) lowered free radicals in the blood after 8 weeks of supplementation. After the supplementation was stopped, the levels went back up. So smokers and people exposed to environmental toxins may need to supplement on a consistent basis to boost their antioxidant defence [>].
Dermatologists have long realized the benefits of natural antioxidants for the skin. Pycnogenol protects the skin against UV damage, reduces hyperpigmentation, prevents uneven tanning, and improves skin strength, hydration, and elasticity [>].
Pycnogenol may also be able to reduce skin damage from the ever-increasing amounts of toxins we are exposed to and may help prevent skin cancer [>].
Pycnogenol supplementation reduced skin redness from UV rays in a trial of 21 people over 8 weeks. With time, the participants were able to handle more UV radiation without experiencing skin damage. Pycnogenol achieved this by epigenetically blocking inflammatory pathways (Nf-kB) [>].
Pycnogenol may be a great skin anti-ageing agent. In 20 postmenopausal women, 12 weeks of pycnogenol supplementation improved hydration and elasticity of the skin. It also increased the activity of genes that make collagen and hyaluronic acid in the body [>].
A combination supplement (pycnogenol with collagen, coenzyme Q10, and other ingredients) reduced skin ageing, elasticity, hydration, and tonicity in 30 women [>].
CROHN’S DISEASE IN CHILDREN
Pycnogenol improved symptoms of Crohn’s disease and increased antioxidants in a clinical trial of 30 children after 10 weeks. It increased two of the most important antioxidants – glutathione and SOD – that can help fight inflammation and oxidative stress in Crohn’s [>].
In 77 people with symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), pycnogenol (150 mg/day) improved symptoms, reduced the frequency of attacks, protected the gut, and prevented IBS worsening similar to IBS drugs such as Papaverine and Buscopan. It may be a great option for people with IBS, since it’s very safe and easy to tolerate [>]
CHEMOTHERAPY SIDE EFFECTS
Pycnogenol (150 mg/day) reduced all side effects in 59 cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. It reduced mouth soreness and ulcers, mouth and eye dryness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and weight loss [>].
In 72 children undergoing cancer chemotherapy, pycnogenol reduced painful mouth ulcers, both alone and in combination with vitamin E [>].
In a clinical trial of 92 people with tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, pycnogenol (100-150 mg/day) helped reduce symptoms and improve blood flow in the ears after 4 weeks [>].
In combination with Mirtoselect, pycnogenol improved blood flow to the eye and reduced eye blood pressure in a trial of 38 people after 2 months. It may help prevent glaucoma and eye damage if used early on in people with high eye blood pressure [>].
SIDE EFFECTS & CAUTION
Pycnogenol is generally safe in the studied doses (up to about 300 mg/day), even long-term. Some of the rare and minor side effects reported in clinical studies include [>, >]: Dizziness, Headache and Nausea.
Pycnogenol acts as a sustained-release formulation. But the actual bioavailability of this complex mixture is still unknown. Since components of Pycnogenol can be modified during digestion and absorption as well as by the liver, disease that affects the gut or liver may increase or decrease its effects [>].
CAVEATS & LIMITATIONS
Some studies used combination products, so it’s unknown what the contribution of pycnogenol itself was. Certain benefits are still limited to animal or cellular studies, which can’t be extrapolated to humans.
Two heart disease studies were funded by Horphag Research, the original developers and exclusive marketers of Pycnogenol. These studies still appear to be methodologically sound and reliable, with no blatant errors in the study design and data collection.
One user found that Pycnogenol helped them with symptoms of von Willebrand disease, a blood coagulation disorder. It also helped them reduce the frequency of nosebleeds. They felt better circulation, warmer hands and feet, even in cold environments. After about two weeks, they noticed clearer, more even and smooth than it has ever been before.
Another user read about it in Life Extension magazine. They have many age-related problems that pycnogenol helped with. The most exciting and was that their tinnitus finally completely disappeared, and they felt quiet in their head for the first time in years.
Various brands of pycnogenol are available. Some pycnogenol supplements are mixed with other antioxidants, such as vitamin C.
Remember that: Pycnogenol is standardized to contain 70 ± 5% procyanidins, which should be on the label and Pycnogenol standardization doesn’t determine other major active compounds, which can vary.
Pine bark extracts other than pycnogenol are also sold. Although these may still be high quality, the active compounds are more likely to vary.
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