Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol)

Background

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) also known as Procyanidins, Pinus pinaster, Flavangenol and/or Oligopin, is commonly used as a nutritive supplement and thought to have strong antioxidant properties. Actually, Pycnogenol is a patented formulation of Pine Bark Extract which is standardized to 65-75% Procyanidin compounds by weight. Procyanidins are chain-like structures consisted of catechins similar to some compounds which are found in green tea. Again, Pycnogenol is similar to Grape Seed Extract and Cocoa Polyphenols as these are the three most common sources of Procyanidins.[1]
As a nootropic, Pine Bark Extract is used mainly to increase cerebral blood flow. The supplement is also helpful for several neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, ADHD, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, chronic pain and erectile dysfunction (ED).[1]

Benefits

Pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) is one of nature’s super antioxidants and is loaded with Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Compounds (OPCs). These amazing compounds display antibacterial, antiviral, anticarcinogenic, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. Pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) is a nootropic. It can help improve conditions relating to poor circulation, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, diabetes, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, female reproductive issues, skin, erectile dysfunction, eye disease and sports stamina as well as exercise performance. It improves both female and male sexual function.
The most common health benefits of Pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) include:

  • Acts as a powerful antioxidant [15]
  • Improves cognitive function [2]
  • Improves erectile dysfunction (ED) [3]
  • Reduces muscle soreness [4]
  • Increases blood flow [5]
  • Improves high blood pressure [6]
  • Helps with diabetes [7]
  • Helps people who have ADHD [8]
  • Helps with osteoarthritis [4]
  • Improves heart health [9]
  • Increases athletic performance [10]
  • Helps people who have Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s diseases [11]
  • Improves female reproductive issues [12]
  • Has a role in fighting cancer [13]
  • Acts as a powerful anti-ageing [14]
  • Reduces inflammation [16]
  • Relieves premenstrual symptoms [17]

Pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) helps protect cells in the whole body against oxidative stress, boost antioxidant enzymes, and neutralize free radicals. Pycnogenol also helps revive and maintain vitamin C and E levels. The active compounds in Pycnogenol are anti-inflammatory and can reduce allergies, fight viruses, and balance the immune system. It also boosts nitric oxide in your body that, actually, helps relax and protect blood vessels.

How it works

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) increases cerebral blood flow. The main active components of Pycnogenol are water-soluble polyphenols including bioflavonoids catechin and taxifolin as well as phenol carbonic acids. Its antioxidants bioflavonoids help increase blood vessel nitric oxide (NO) synthase expression and then releases nitric oxide (NO) from endothelial cells (blood vessels linings). Pycnogenol helps increase blood flow by boosting nitric oxide production in blood vessels. Since it was a little bit difficult to measure blood flow in the brain, researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study using Pycnogenol to study forearm blood flow responses to acetylcholine (ACh). It was a study with healthy young men before and after 2 weeks of 180 mg per day of Pycnogenol, or a placebo. The Pycnogenol users experienced a significant increase in blood flow.[18]
Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) also enhances cognition. The users who supplemented with Pine Bark Extract or Pycnogenol repost that it has a significant effect on focus, memory, decision-making and mood.

Considerations

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) is considered possibly safe when taken orally at doses between 50 and 450 milligrams daily for up to a whole year. It can also commonly be used in the form of a skin cream, or in powder form, for periods of not more than six weeks without any side effects. Children also can take it for a short period of time.
There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking maritime pine products when you are breast-feeding or pregnant. So stay on the safe side and avoid using it.
High doses may cause problem to people with bleeding conditions as well as people with diabetes.
Taking this supplement may worsen liver function in people with hepatitis. Stop using maritime pine at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
You are advised to consult your physician or healthcare provider before starting any supplement.

Recommendations

In most clinical studies, the dosage varies between 50-360 mg per day.  However, the standard dose may be 100-200 mg per day. You can take this dose at one time or divided into two splits throughout the day. You are recommended to consult your physician for your appropriate dose for Pine Bark Extract or Pycnogenol.
Again, here is a list of dosage for different symptoms, [19] such as

  • For allergies: 50 mg twice daily starting 5 weeks before allergy season.
  • For asthma: 1 mg per pound of body weight, up to a maximum of 200 mg/day, has been given in two divided doses for one month. Also, 50 mg of the same extract has been used twice daily for 6 months.
  • For athletic performance: 100-200 mg daily for 1-2 months.
  • For circulation problems: 45-360 mg daily in up to three divided doses for 3-12 weeks.
  • For improving mental function: 150 mg daily for 3 months.
  • For diseases of the retina in the eye: 50 mg three times daily for 2 months.

Sources