Maritime Pine Tree Bark


Pycnogenol is a patented brand name for a natural liquid extract derived from the bark of the Maritime Pine Tree (Pinus pinaster). The tree is native to France, but also found in other parts of the world. It has been used for decades as an active ingredient in a wide variety of vitamin and mineral blends, as well as a vast array of dietary supplements.

Pycnogenol Explained

Pycnogenol is a patented formulation of extract derived from French maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster). The term “Pycnogenol” refers specifically to the branded product produced by Horphag Research, which has been extensively studied for its potential health benefits. The term “pycnogenol” is often used to refer to the extract itself, regardless of the brand.

Pycnogenols are found in supplements such as grape seed extract, but Pycnogenol the patented formula should not be confused with supplement blends that simply contain pycnogenols. The extract contains a combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids. Natural sources of pine bark extract, while they may contain similar compounds, do not bear the Pycnogenol trademark and may vary in terms of purity, potency and standardization.

Pycnogenol is also known as Pine Bark Extract, Pine Bark Procyanidins or Procyanidins.

Here are some factors to consider when comparing Pycnogenol branded products to natural pine bark extracts:

Quality and Standardization: Pycnogenol is produced using a proprietary extraction process that ensures consistency, purity, and standardization of active compounds, such as procyanidins, phenolic acids, and bioflavonoids. Natural pine bark extracts may vary in composition and quality depending on factors such as the source of the bark and the extraction method used.

Research and Clinical Studies: Pycnogenol has been the subject of numerous scientific studies investigating its potential health benefits, including its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, and skin health properties. The research supporting the efficacy and safety of Pycnogenol is specific to the branded product. While natural pine bark extracts may have similar properties, they may not have been studied to the same extent.

Safety and Efficacy: Pycnogenol has a long history of safe use when taken at recommended doses. Clinical trials and research studies have demonstrated its efficacy in various applications. While natural pine bark extracts may also be safe and effective, the specific benefits and risks associated with each product may vary.

Labelling and Transparency: Pycnogenol branded products typically provide detailed information on the label regarding the content of active ingredients, standardization, and manufacturing processes. This transparency can help consumers make informed choices about the products they purchase. With natural pine bark extracts, the quality and consistency of the product may not always be as clearly defined.

In summary, Pycnogenol branded products offer the assurance of quality, consistency and extensive research supporting their efficacy and safety. While natural pine bark extracts may offer similar benefits, they may vary in terms of composition, purity and standardization. Ultimately, the choice between Pycnogenol and natural pine bark extracts depends on individual preferences.

The Health Benefits of Pycnogenol

Many people have stated they experience considerable relief from certain medical conditions through the use of pycnogenol. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • High blood pressure
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Dangerous blood clots in the lower extremities
  • High cholesterol
  • Asthma
  • Leg cramps
  • Hyperactive disorder

Pycnogenol is also recommended as a supplement for use in improving one’s athletic performance.

Pycnogenol Research

Many people wonder about herbs and their effectiveness due to the fact that many such remedies have not yet been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. However, this does not mean the remedy is not effective, it simply indicates that the favourable evidence supporting its claims has not yet been viewed by any authority on such matters.

There are, however, many reports by reputable establishments that back what the manufacturers of pycnogenol state concerning their product. Anyone deciding whether or not to give pycnogenol a try may wish to consider the following:

Pycnogenol controls Blood Sugar and Lowers Blood Pressure

In 2009, University of Arizona researchers published a study conducted on diabetics in which they produced evidence that the extract of the bark of French maritime pines can lower blood pressure. As previously mentioned, this tree is the source from which pycnogenol is produced.

The researchers monitored the effect of the Pycnogenol by giving the diabetic patients either 125 milligrams of pycnogenol or a placebo once daily for twelve weeks. The average age of those participating in the study was 60. Almost 59% of the individuals taking the pycnogenol supplement achieved normal blood pressure readings, as opposed to only only 2.8 percent of the people who were given the placebo.

When high blood pressure is reduced it lowers the patient’s risk of a heart attack or stroke, making pycnogenol an invaluable remedy for those with hypertension. Additionally, LDL cholesterol-bad cholesterol-also decreased considerably in those taking pycnogenol, with decreases of 10.6 and 13.7 mg/dL or more after eight and twelve weeks, respectively.

In addition to the benefits associated with hypertension, Pycnogenol appeared to be beneficial in the management of diabetes, as well. Individuals who were given Pycnogenol showed a decrease in their fasting blood sugar levels of 23.8 mg/dL in contrast to a mere 5 mg/dl in those who were given the placebo.

These findings confirmed the suspicion that pycnogenol is beneficial regarding the control and management of blood sugar levels in diabetics, as well as helpful in reducing high blood pressure. The extract appeared to function in a similar way to that of ACE inhibitors–one of the three main hypertension medication drug classes.

Pycnogenol to Improve Memory and for Alzheimer’s Disease

According to research conducted in 1993-2000 at California’s Loma Linda University, laboratory mice showed remarkable improvement in memory when they were fed small amounts of Pycnogenol. Older mice who were given Pycnogenol experienced such improvement in memory that they scored as high as younger mice when their memories were tested using the same method.

Research conducted at Loma Linda University by Doctor Benjamin Lau resulted in evidence that Pycnogenol helps to prevent damage caused by the primary protein that is responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Additional double blind studies have proved that the supplement is extremely beneficial for improved memory function in the human brain.

Additional Benefits of Pycnogenol

Numerous studies are also underway to pinpoint why the supplement appears to be so beneficial in the treatment of asthma, chronic venous insufficiency and retinopathy. Additionally, Pycnogenol contains high levels of antioxidants, similar to levels found in blackberries and mangosteen fruit, which are some of the most powerful antioxidants on Earth.

As with any dietary supplement, one should check with a doctor before adding pycnogenol to his or her diet. However, based on the aforementioned research, there is significant evidence that using pycnogenol as part of a balanced diet can be beneficial to one’s health.

Pine Nuts

You may also be interested in our article on Pine Nuts, which typically come from different species of pine trees, especially the Stone Pine Tree (Pinus pinea), rather than from the Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster). It’s important to ensure that any pine nuts you purchase for consumption come from reputable sources, as some species of pine nuts may have a bitter taste and can cause a temporary condition known as “pine mouth” in which the consumer experiences a metallic or bitter taste in their mouth after consumption.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Pycnogenol Notes / Side Effects

Pycnogenol, a proprietary extract of French maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster), is generally considered safe for most people when taken at recommended doses. However, like any supplement or medication, it may cause side effects in some individuals, particularly when consumed in high doses or by those with specific health conditions.

Here are some potential side effects associated with pycnogenol:

Gastrointestinal Issues: Some people may experience mild gastrointestinal side effects, such as stomach discomfort, nausea, or diarrhea, particularly when first starting to take pycnogenol.

Allergic Reactions: Allergic reactions to pycnogenol are rare but possible. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include itching, rash, hives, swelling (especially of the face, lips, tongue, or throat), difficulty breathing, or tightness in the chest. Individuals with known allergies to pine bark or other tree nuts should avoid pycnogenol.

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia): Pycnogenol may lower blood sugar levels, particularly in individuals with diabetes or those taking medications to lower blood sugar. People with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels closely when using pycnogenol and consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate dosage adjustments.

Bleeding Risks: Pycnogenol may have mild anticoagulant (blood-thinning) effects. While this can be beneficial for some individuals, such as those looking to improve circulation, it may also increase the risk of bleeding, particularly in people with bleeding disorders or those taking blood-thinning medications. Individuals scheduled for surgery should stop taking pycnogenol at least two weeks before the scheduled procedure to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding.

Interactions with Medications: Pycnogenol may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners (anticoagulants), antiplatelet drugs, immunosuppressants, and medications for diabetes or high blood pressure. If you are taking any medications, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before using pycnogenol to avoid potential interactions.

Headaches: Some individuals may experience headaches or migraines as a side effect of pycnogenol supplementation. If headaches persist or worsen, discontinuing use or adjusting the dosage may be necessary.

If you experience any concerning side effects while taking pycnogenol, it’s important to discontinue use and seek medical attention if necessary. Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with a healthcare provider before using pycnogenol supplements.

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