Pycnogenol is made from pine bark extract that is a powerful antioxidant promoted to provide many health and cognitive benefits including improvement in concentration and memory to reducing symptoms of menopause and providing younger looking skin and more.
What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol is the registered US trademark name for a pine bark extract that comes from Maritime pine trees found in southern France and Quebec Canada, called Pinus pinaster.
This herbal medicine is thought to be filled with phytonutrients and has been noted to be highly researched in the past few years. It is now one of the best selling dietary supplements believed to provide many health benefits.
Pycnogenol is promoted to support a slew of human health benefits including improvement in certain cognitive functions, eye health, heart health, maintenance of healthy skin, lowering cholesterol levels, allergies, reducing high blood pressure, prevention of many diseases and slowing down the aging process.
It is also linked to improving male fertility and erectile dysfunction, reducing symptoms of PMS, improving athletic performance and even prevention of varicose veins.
Experiments of Pycnogenol have also shown powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects and has been associated with greatly improving circulation problems and may stimulating the immune system.
How does Pycnogenol Work?
There seems to be many different phytonutrients in Pycnogenol that may make it unique. It is thought to contain over 40 different compounds, however, not all have yet been established.
It is known, that like many other pine bark extracts, it contains flavonoid compounds called OPC’s (Oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes).
OPC’s contain bioflavonoids (plant chemicals) and polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. Also, these OPC’s produce anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-ageing and anti-allergic effects.
Finally, certain flavonoids that are thought to be found in Pycnogenol (taxifolin and catechin) improve the circulatory system.
This promotes blood flow, nutrients and oxygen to properly flow throughout the cells, decreasing vascular pressure around the heart and improving lung function and vessels.
Pycnogenol Possible Benefits
Pycnogenol is currently still being researched on it’s effectiveness for a wide range of health issues. Although, this supplement is not currently approved by the FDA to treat any conditions, the manufacturer of Pycnogenol seems to financial support many studies on it’s intended health benefits with promising results.
Although further testing needs to be done, it may be recommended as an additional supplement by healthcare practitioners to possibly aid with these health concerns;
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Symptoms of Asthma
- High cholesterol (lowering LDL or bad cholesterol)
- Migraine headaches
- Chronic venous
- Meniere’s disease and Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Circulation problems in diabetics and decreasing blood sugar levels
- Symptoms of menopause
- Varicose veins
- Retinal disease and vision problems
- Common colds
- Lower body circulation problems (leg cramps, fluid retention, ankle swelling)
- Prevention of allergies
Pycnogenol Cognitive Effects
Studies have shown that taking Pycnogenol (100mg per day) significantly improves cognitive function in healthy individuals.
A comparable controlled group study of 30 professionals (ages 35-55) were given Pycnogenol for 12 weeks. They were tested on 12 professional daily tasks, some of which include information processing speed (PASAT), memory functions, attention span, mood, planning, fluid intelligence and problem solving.
Results showed all cognitive functions improved, with significant improvement in completing daily tasks, alertness, concentration, memory and even lowering anxiety and depression.
Also, some research suggests that it may improve concentration, focus and decrease hyperactivity in children with ADHD.
Pycnogenol Supplement Effects on Menopause
Research suggests that Pycnogenol reduces several uncomfortable symptoms of menopause including night sweats, fatigue, hot flashes, mood swings, low libido, vaginal dryness and more.
An eight week study was conducted, giving 100mg per day of Pycnogenol to evaluate it’s effectiveness for menopausal relief. Symptoms of menopause were scored based on the 33 most common side effects.
The results showed, a significant, 45% improvement in hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and loss of libido. It also showed big improvements in depression and irritability, concentration and memory issues related to menopause, dizziness and sleeping issues.
In addition, the results showed improvement in pain sensations due to menopausal transition including breast pain, headaches, burning tongue and itchy skin.
Pycnogenol Side Effects
The standard daily dosage of Pycnogenol is between 100mg-200mg. This supplement is believed to be safe to take at the proper dosage and for long-term use. Dosages should be separated if taking 200mg (100mg twice daily) and should be taken with a meal.
The potential mild side effects reported for the use of Pycnogenol have been nausea and upset stomach.
This supplement is not recommended for;
- Pregnant or nursing women
- Autoimmune diseases (This supplement may stimulate the immune system and could increase symptoms)
- Hypertension (It may increase blood pressure)
- Individuals in any radiation therapy
- People with bleeding conditions or taking blood thinners
Please consult with your doctor first before taking this supplement if you are currently on any medications.
Pycnogenol seems to be one of the most highly researched supplements on the market today. There are over 350 published studies to date.
Possibly filled with many natural compounds and the promise of this patented ingredient to provide the highest quality standards, it has become a very popular supplement believed to provide many health benefits.
In studies, it has been reported to improve mental functions and memory, cardiovascular health, circulation, lipid metabolism and act as a powerful antioxidant.
Compounds found in Pycnogenol (OPC’s and polyphenols) have shown to contain medicinal properties that may support better health in general.
For healthy people, this supplement has not been associated with any negative persistent side effects even when used on a long-term basis. There are no standardized guidelines by the FDA for use of this supplement, please speak with your doctor first before taking this supplement and if you are taking any other medications, as they may interact with Pycnogenol.