Maritime Pine (Pycnogenol): Heart, Brain, Allergies–What Doesn’t It Do?

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Pycnogenol, a natural supplement derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, has received attention for its range of health benefits. This article explores the science behind Pycnogenol, examining how its unique blend of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties can contribute to overall wellness. From supporting cardiovascular health to improving skin elasticity, Pycnogenol’s diverse applications reflect its intriguing role in natural health care. Our aim is to provide an informative overview, backed by research, to help you understand how this supplement might fit into a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.

What Is Pycnogenol?

Pycnogenol is derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, Pinus pinaster, and has been used for many years due to its antioxidant properties. It contains bioflavonoids, known for neutralizing harmful free radicals in the body, which can contribute to aging and health issues.

What makes Pycnogenol unique is its blend of procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and organic acids, which work together to enhance its antioxidant effects. This blend not only defends against oxidative damage but also supports various bodily functions. For example, it assists in the production of nitric oxide, which improves cardiovascular health by enhancing blood flow and reducing blood pressure.

Pycnogenol also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, making it of interest in managing conditions like arthritis. Studies suggest it can improve skin hydration and elasticity, positively impacting skin aging. Due to its diverse health benefits and established safety profile, Pycnogenol has gained popularity as a natural supplement.

What Are the Benefits of Pycnogenol?

  • Cardiovascular Health: Enhances blood circulation, aiding in the reduction of blood pressure and improving overall heart function. Strengthens blood vessels, contributing to better vascular health and reducing the risk of heart diseases. Prevents the buildup of arterial plaque, lowering the likelihood of atherosclerosis and related cardiovascular issues. PMID: 31585179, PMID: 22240497
  • Antioxidant Properties: Actively neutralizes harmful free radicals, thereby protecting cells from oxidative damage and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Reduces oxidative stress, which is a key factor in the aging process and the development of many chronic conditions. PMID: 30556209
  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Alleviates inflammation, which is beneficial in managing conditions like arthritis and reducing joint pain and swelling. Improves joint mobility and comfort, making daily activities more manageable for persons with inflammatory conditions. PMID: 20676799, PMID: 19077163
  • Allergy Relief: Helps manage allergic reactions by reducing the release of histamines, which are responsible for allergy symptoms. Alleviates common allergy symptoms, including sneezing, itching, and nasal congestion. [PMID: 12639402]
  • Diabetic Support: This may improve blood sugar control, which is particularly beneficial for persons with diabetes. Supports the management of diabetes-related complications by improving vascular health. PMID: 20433812
  • Cognitive Function: Enhances cognitive abilities, particularly in the elderly, by improving cerebral blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. Supports better memory retention and mental performance, possibly offsetting age-related cognitive decline. PMID: 18701642, PMID: 24675223
  • Eye Health: Improves retinal blood circulation, which is vital for maintaining overall eye health and visual acuity. May aid in preventing or managing eye disorders that are related to poor circulation, such as diabetic retinopathy. PMID: 12498513
  • Menstrual Symptom Relief: Alleviates pain and discomfort associated with menstrual cycles, improving quality of life during menstruation. Reduces inflammation and bloating, common symptoms experienced during menstrual periods. PMC4266261
  • Menopausal Symptom Management: Helps in alleviating symptoms commonly experienced during menopause, like hot flashes and night sweats. Balances hormonal fluctuations during menopause, supporting overall emotional and physical well-being. PMID: 17653885
  • Sports Performance: Boosts exercise endurance and reduce muscle soreness, enhancing athletic performance and recovery. Aids in faster recovery post-exercise by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in muscles. PMID: 24247188, PMC8079890
    • Reduced Muscle Cramping and Pain: Helps alleviate muscle cramps and pains, beneficial for athletes, the elderly, and persons with chronic muscular discomfort or conditions like restless leg syndrome. PMID: 16703193
  • Asthma Management: Eases symptoms of asthma by improving lung function and reducing airway inflammation. Offers natural support for respiratory health, enhancing breathing and lung capacity. PMID: 22108478
  • Erectile Dysfunction: Enhances blood flow and vascular health, which can positively impact erectile function. Often used in combination with other natural remedies, offering a holistic approach to sexual health and function. PMC10614297, PMID: 31855055
  • ADHD Management: Improves attention span and reduces hyperactivity and impulsiveness in persons with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Offers a natural, complementary option for managing symptoms of ADHD alongside other treatments. PMC10855440
  • Periodontal Health: Reduces inflammation in the gums, aiding in the prevention and management of periodontal diseases. Supports overall dental health, contributing to healthier gums and teeth.
  • Immune System Support: Enhances the body’s immune response with its strong antioxidant properties. Aids the body in more effectively fighting off infections and diseases, promoting general health and resilience. PMID: 34060731
  • Improved Endothelial Function: Enhances the health and functioning of the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels, crucial for maintaining vascular health and regulating blood pressure. PMID: 22240497, PMID: 25391252
  • Enhanced Fertility: In men, Pycnogenol has been observed to improve sperm quality and function, might aid in increasing fertility and reproductive health. PMID: 19142978
  • Blood Sugar Regulation: Assists in stabilizing blood sugar levels, which is particularly beneficial for persons with diabetes or insulin resistance, contributing to better glycemic control. PMID: 27170051, PMID: 22660838
  • Skin Health: Promotes increased skin elasticity and hydration, helping to minimize the signs of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines. Offers protection against UV-induced skin damage, contributing to healthier skin texture and appearance. PMID: 22270036
    • Leg Ulcer Management: Assists in the healing of leg ulcers, especially those caused by venous insufficiency, by improving circulation and reducing inflammation in the affected areas. PMID: 27521821, PMID: 23775628
  • Lymphedema Relief: May offer relief in symptoms of lymphedema, a condition characterized by swelling due to blockages in the lymphatic system, by improving lymphatic circulation. PMID: 10844161
    • Venous Health: Improves conditions of venous insufficiency, reducing leg swelling and discomfort, especially in persons who stand or sit for extended periods. Supports healthy venous blood flow, essential for leg health and preventing varicose veins. PMID: 31347820
  • Neuroprotection: Offers antioxidant properties that may provide protective effects for the nervous system, and could benefit in neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. PMC3534537, PMC3751204
  • Hearing Protection: This might aid in protecting against hearing loss by improving blood circulation to the auditory system, thereby maintaining healthy ear function.
    • Tinnitus Relief: This may improve blood circulation to the inner ear, which can reduce the symptoms of tinnitus, such as ringing or buzzing sounds. Provides a natural approach to managing tinnitus, and enhancing ear health and hearing function. PMID: 20657537
  • Reduced Severity of Cold Symptoms: This can reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms, possibly due to its immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties, making colds less impactful. PMID: 25424463
  • Mood Enhancement: May have a positive impact on mood, helping to alleviate symptoms of mild depression or anxiety, likely due to its anti-inflammatory effects and influence on stress hormones. PMID: 24675223
  • Improved Kidney Function: By enhancing blood circulation and reducing oxidative stress, Pycnogenol supports better kidney health and function, crucial for the body’s detoxification processes. PMID: 20097689

Is Pycnogenol Safe?

Pycnogenol is renowned for its high safety profile, making it a preferred choice among natural supplements. Derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, it is a natural extract devoid of significant side effects when used in recommended doses. Numerous studies have underscored its tolerability, demonstrating that it can be safely incorporated into various health regimens. While allergic reactions are rare, they are possible, as with any natural product. Importantly, Pycnogenol does not seem to interact adversely with most medications, making it a suitable adjunct to many treatment plans.

Medication Interactions with Pycnogenol

  • Blood Thinners (Anticoagulants and Antiplatelets): When taken with blood thinners like Warfarin, Aspirin, or Clopidogrel, Pycnogenol may enhance their effects, and could increase the risk of bleeding due to its ability to increase the blood-thinning properties of these medications.
  • Immunosuppressants: Pycnogenol’s immune-boosting properties might interfere with the effects of immunosuppressants such as Cyclosporine or Tacrolimus, possibly reducing their effectiveness in suppressing the immune system.
  • Diabetes Medications: Pycnogenol has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. When combined with diabetes medications like Insulin, Metformin, or Sulfonylureas, this may lead to an enhanced hypoglycemic effect, necessitating careful monitoring of blood sugar levels.
  • Blood Pressure Medications: Pycnogenol has demonstrated the ability to lower blood pressure. When taken with medications like ACE inhibitors, Beta-blockers, or Diuretics, Pycnogenol may further lower blood pressure levels, may lead to hypotension.
  • Chemotherapy Drugs: Pycnogenol’s antioxidant properties may interfere with the oxidative mechanisms of certain chemotherapy drugs like Methotrexate or Doxorubicin, possibly affecting the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment.
  • CYP Enzymes Substrates: Pycnogenol may interact with drugs metabolized by certain enzymes in the liver, such as CYP1A2 or CYP2C9 substrates, possibly altering the metabolism and blood levels of these medications.

Supplement Interactions with Pycnogenol

  • Vitamin C: Pycnogenol can enhance the effectiveness of Vitamin C in the body, increasing the body’s antioxidant capacity and may improve skin health and immune function. This interaction leads to more effective scavenging of free radicals and better protection against oxidative stress.
  • Vitamin E: Pycnogenol and Vitamin E work together to strengthen the body’s defense against oxidative damage. This combination may be beneficial for heart health and skin protection, enhancing the stability and effectiveness of vitamin E in the body.
  • Immune-boosting Supplements (Echinacea, Zinc): When taken with immune-boosting supplements like Echinacea or Zinc, Pycnogenol can increase the immune-enhancing effects, possibly improving the body’s ability to fight infections and inflammation.
  • Blood-thinning Supplements (Fish Oil, Ginkgo Biloba, Garlic): Due to its blood-thinning properties, Pycnogenol combined with other supplements that also thin the blood can increase the risk of bleeding. This is important for people taking anticoagulant medications or those with bleeding disorders.
  • Diabetes Medications and Supplements (Chromium, Cinnamon): Pycnogenol’s ability to lower blood sugar levels can be enhanced when taken with supplements like Chromium or Cinnamon. This combination requires careful monitoring to prevent hypoglycemia, especially in persons with diabetes or those using glucose-lowering medications.
  • Antioxidant Supplements (Coenzyme Q10, Selenium): Combining Pycnogenol with other antioxidants like Coenzyme Q10 or Selenium can increase the overall antioxidant capacity of the body, offering additional protection against chronic diseases associated with oxidative stress, such as cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancer.
  • Anti-hypertensive Supplements (CoQ10, L-arginine, Fish Oil): Pycnogenol, known for its blood pressure-lowering effects, when combined with other supplements that also lower blood pressure (like CoQ10, L-arginine, or Fish Oil), may lead to an additive effect, could result in hypotension. This is crucial for people with blood pressure issues or those taking blood pressure medications.

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Pycnogenol® 50mg by Klaire Labs

This premium French maritime pine bark extract contains numerous bioactive compounds that support capillary and connective tissue function and provide antioxidant protection.† Pycnogenol® is a powerful scavenger of free radicals involved in inflammatory processes and supports elasticity and integrity of collagen in joints, capillaries, blood vessels, and skin.†

Suggested Use: Take 1 capsule, 1 to 4 capsules daily with food or as directed by a healthcare professional.

Amount Per 1 Capsule            

French Maritime Pine Extract Pycnogenol®‡ … 50mg*(Pinus pinaster) (bark)

Pycnogenol 100 by Allergy Research Group

Pycnogenol® is the original French maritime pine bark extract, providing a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and phenolic acids. More than 400 published studies and review articles demonstrate its safety and efficacy.* Suggested Use: Take 1 capsule one or two times daily, or as directed by your healthcare professional.

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving
French Maritime Pine Extract … 100mg
(Pinus pinaster)(Bark)

Pycnogenol OPC Complex

Patient One Pycnogenol OPC Complex 300mg is a potent super antioxidant formula comprised of multiple OPCs (Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins)— powerful bioflavonoids that act as free radical scavengers in the human body and promote antioxidant activity and overall healthy aging. This highly absorbable formula features a network of clinically proven antioxidant compounds with a diverse spectrum of demonstrated health and wellness support functions: promoting heart health, normalizing blood vessel diameter, protecting retinal capillaries, promoting clear respiration, encouraging healthy inflammatory response, supporting youthful and healthy skin, and more.

Take 1 vegetarian capsule daily as a dietary supplement, preferably between meals, or as directed by a qualified health care professional.

Serving Size: 1 Capsule

Amount Per Serving:
Pycnogenol … 100mg
(French Maritime Pine Bark Extract)
Grapeseed extract … 50mg
(Vitis vinifera) (inner core of fruit)
(Stadardized for 95% proanthocyanidins (47.5mg))
Red wine extract … 50mg
(Vitis vinifera) (skin)
(Standardized for 25% polyphenols (12.5mg))
Mirtoselect Bilberry fruit … 50mg
(Vaccinium myrtillus L.) (Standardized ethanolic extract 36% of anthocyanins (18mg))
Citrus bioflavonoid complex … 50mg
(50% total bioflavonoids (25 mg))
Typical profile: (to equal 50% total bioflavonoids) Flavanone (Hesperidin) 35% (mg) Flavonones (Naringin, Naringenin 7-B-Rutinoside and others) 14% (mg))

Pycnogenol -100mg

Pycnogenol® is the original French maritime pine bark extract, providing a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and phenolic acids. More than 400 published studies and review articles demonstrate its safety and efficacy.*

Suggested Use:
Take 1 capsule one or two times daily, or as directed by your healthcare professional.

Serving Size: 1 Capsule
French Maritime Pine Extract … 100mg
(Pinus pinaster)(Bark)

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Pycnogenol supplements offer health benefits attributed to their potent antioxidant properties. They may enhance cardiovascular health by improving blood circulation and reducing the risk of chronic venous insufficiency. Pycnogenol also shows promise in improving skin health by reducing signs of aging and enhancing skin elasticity. For persons managing diabetes, these supplements may assist in regulating blood sugar levels. Furthermore, Pycnogenol’s anti-inflammatory effects may help alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis and joint pain. Its potential to enhance cognitive function and alleviate symptoms of ADHD in children is also noteworthy. Overall, Pycnogenol supplements provide a natural option for supporting various aspects of health and wellness.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

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