Pycnogenol® (Pinus maritima) is a unique plant extract that originates from the bark of the maritime pine trees grown in forests in south-western France. Pycnogenol goes beyond being a powerful antioxidant, its proven safe and effective with over 220 documented published articles and 75 clinical trials. Pycnogenol contains nutrients like proanthocyanidins, monomers, ferulic acid and caffeic acid, taxifolin, catechin and epicatechin.
Pycnogenol demonstrates antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. In addition, has been studied for a wide range of conditions, including chronic venous insufficiency, asthma, retinopathy, cardiovascular problems, and erectile dysfunction. It’s a powerful antioxidant, acts as a anti-inflammatory, selectively binds to collagen and elastin and it aids in the production of endothelial nitric oxide, which helps to dilate blood vessels.
Pycnogenol is a potent antioxidant. Free radicals are the result of some oxygen molecules that are converted into oxidizing substances during the process that creates energy in cells, cellular respiration. Oxygen is a very active element, and in the stage of exchanging the molecules in the bloodstream, oxygen combines with many different compounds. Some of these compounds can cause damage to body tissue. Oxidative stress has been implicated in the development of a number of conditions including arthritic disorders, cancer, and cardiovascular problems.
Pycnogenol, acts as an antioxidant by scavenging reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and suppressing production of peroxides. It increases the activities of antioxidant enzymes by increasing the intracellular glutathione amount. Pyncogenol gets quickly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract due to its excellent water solubility. The compound fixes rapidly to cell membranes in veins and capillaries and connective tissue where it exerts a stabilizing effect on cellular membranes of all types. Outside and inside the membranes it counteracts destructive oxidation by free radicals from this solubility property. This super antioxidant; It can be retained for as 72 hours while it neutralizes free radicals and prevents oxidation. An in vivo study showed a 40 percent increase in antioxidant potency in blood following 3 weeks supplementation with 150 mg pycnogenol a day. Pycnogenol also, it recycles vitamin C, regenerates vitamin E and increases the endogenous antioxidant enzyme system.
Heart and Circulatory System
Pycnogenol helps to protect capillaries by binding to blood vessels walls and reducing permeability. Pine Bark Extract contains substances that might improve blood flow. Has been shown to improve endothelial function and blood flow. Pycnogenol, inhibits superoxide radical in blood flow, and protects blood vessel walls. The most positive improvements are in peripheral microcirculation. Corrects platelet activity which is responsible for the development of blood clots following vascular damage. Pycnogenol gives a protection against the cardiovascular risks by preventing the clotting of blood platelets, caused by smoking, and inhibits the nicotine-induced constriction of blood vessels. In a study, blood was drawn before and 2 hours after administration of a single pycnogenol dose. The results clearly showed a dose-dependent reduction of platelet activity. Already the lowest dose of 25 mg pycnogenol noticeably lowered the blood platelet activity. Next research revealed that pycnogenol inhibits release of thromboxane from platelets of cigarette smokers to levels of healthy non-smokers.
Pycnogenol is in its ability to cause the blood vessels to relax. Therefore, blood can flow easily through the blood vessels, decreasing blood pressure and hypertension and improving circulation. In a double-blind, placebo controlled study with type II diabetic people medicated with ACE inhibitor Lisinopril and hypoglycaemic medication, pycnogenol significantly lowered blood pressure and half of the patients were able to lower their individual hypotensive medication dosage. By virtue of increasing the production of endothelial nitric oxide, pycnogenol significantly lowers the activity of blood platelets. Nitric oxide represents the natural body-own messenger molecule for releasing elevated thrombocyte activity.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency is a disease that includes leg swelling, varicose veins, itching, pain, skin changes, and skin ulcers. Is caused by leg veins inability to pump blood back to the heart. Left untreated, it can lead to varicose veins, spider veins, pain during walking, and the life threatening condition deep vein thrombosis. Pycnogenol enables restoration of the functions of the small veins through inhibition of the production of inflammatory agents. 15 clinical studies involving over 500 people showed that pycnogenol reduces pain, oedema and other symptoms associated with vein problems. This clinical studies were conducted with doses ranging from 30 mg to 360 mg a day.
Some studies report effects of pine bark extract in the treatment and prevention of retinopathy, including slowing the progression of retinopathy in diabetics. Intake of pycnogenol has been found to reduce the micro bleedings in the retina and to improve eyesight. Pycnogenol has been tested for treatment and prevention of retinopathy in clinical trials. Studies involving more than 1200 patients showed that pycnogenol repaired permeable capillaries. Progressive deterioration of vision ceased and in some patients, visual acuity increased slightly. In a study published in the “Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics”, found that taken in the early stages of retinopathy, pycnogenol may enhance retinal blood circulation accompanied by regression of edema, which favorably improves vision
of patients. Retinopathy is a major cause of blindness in patients with diabetes and is one of the most feared diabetic complications.
Found that pycnogenol improves symptoms of mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis. Also, patients were able to reduce their dose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. During three months in a study, received pycnogenol or a placebo. After three months; pycnogenol group experienced decreases in C-reactive protein compared to the placebo group. 100 patients were treated for three months either by 150 mg pycnogenol per day at taking or by placebo. Patients had to report any change of use of previously prescribed antiinflammatory medication during the study time. Following treatment with pycnogenol patients reported an improvement of WOMAC index, and a significant alleviation of pain by visual analogue scale, the placebo had no effect. According to researchers, results show that pycnogenol in patients with mild to moderate OA improves symptoms and is able to spare NSAIDs. One recent study showed that patients taking 200 milligram of pycnogenol per day for 5 days reduced several key markers of inflammation. Another study found that pycnogenol inhibited the COX-1 and COX-2 inflammatory enzymes.
Pycnogenol may guard against the formation of tumors or another cell mutations caused by free radicals and may help protect against degenerative diseases like cancer. In vitro studies show antimetastatic effects of pycnogenol extract. Pycnogenol has the ability to induce apoptosis and slow down the proliferation of leukemia, ovarian, and breast cancer cells in vitro. Pycnogenol has been recognized as an anti-oxidant and for its ability to prevent activation of NFkappaB, a transcription factor that is generally overactive in cancer cells. Pycnogenol Dr . D. White reported that it inhibits the enzyme monooxygenase, preventing the formation of highly carcinogenic diole epoxide of benzopyrene. Pycnogenol was found to block the spread of human lung carcinoma cells. A study published in 2009 found that pycnogenol caused a 50 % reduction of thioredoxin reductase activity.
Treatment of pycnogenol decreases the level of circulating inflammatory substances in the blood stream and has been shown to improve asthma symptoms and the lung function. Pycnogenol inhibits expression of 5-lipoxygenase and therefore decreases leukotriene levels in asthmatic patients. According to a study of 2002; that pycnogenol may decrease asthma symptom scores and levels of circulating leukotrienes, molecules that cause inflammation. (International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics – number of April 2002). In a clinical study; 26 with asthma participated in this study. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either 1 mg/lb/day (most 200 mg/day) Pycnogenol or placebo for the first period of four weeks and then crossed over to the alternate regimen for the next four weeks. 22 patients who completed the study, all responded favorably to pycnogenol in contrast to placebo. Pycnogenol noticeably extent reduced serum leukotrienes compared with placebo.
Erection requires the relaxation of the cavernous smooth muscle, which is triggered by nitric oxide. Pycnogenol in combination with L-arginine, may cause an improvement in sexual function in men with erectile dysfunction. Pycnogenol enhances NO (nitric oxide) production which leads to an improvement in blood vessel dilation and an increase in blood flow and oxygen supply to muscles. a study published in 2003 showed that after 3 months of treatment, 92.5 % of male participants taking pycnogenol and l-arginine experienced normal erections.
Melasma is a common disorder of hyperpigmentation of the skin usually affecting sun-exposed areas in women. More sunlight exposure is considered the leading factor of melasma, especially in people with a genetic predisposition to this condition. 90% of occurs in women. Thirty women with melasma completed a 30-day trial in which they took one 25 mg tablet of pycnogenol 3 times daily. They were aged between 29 and 59 years and their mean course of disease was 8 years. All 30 patients completed the 30 day treatment period. At the end of the period, the researchers found that the average area of skin affected by melasma went down by approximate 26 mm squared. Overall effective rate was 80%.
Pycnogenol and Tinnitus
Tinnitus is commonly defined as the subjective perception of sound by an individual, in the absence of external sounds. The word ‘tinnitus’ means tinkling or ringing like a bell. Episodes of tinnitus may be brief or it can be a permanent problem. In many people with tinnitus, the cause is not known. Some medications and other diseases of the inner ear can cause tinnitus. Tinnitus can in rare situations be a symptom of such important problems as a brain aneurysm or a brain tumor.
Recent research shows pycnogenol, is useful in relieving tinnitus symptoms and improving inner ear blood flow. In a study; involving 82 people with mild to moderate tinnitus in one ear, 58 took pycnogenol (100 mg or 150 mg per day) and 24 acted as controls. Patients were assigned to one of 3 groups: first group consisted of 24 patients who were administered 150 mg/day of pycnogenol, second group consisted of 34 patients who were administered 100 mg/day of pycnogenol, and the control group consisted of 24 patients who received no pycnogenol. At the beginning of the study, patients’ average initial systolic and diastolic blood flow velocities were 14.3 and 4.22 cm/sec in the low dose pycnogenol group and 13.2 and 3.2 cm/sec in the high dose pycnogenol group, indicative of insufficient blood perfusion of the ear in both groups. The study found that after 4 weeks of treatment with pycnogenol, inner ear systolic and diastolic blood flow velocities in the affected ear rose to an average of 21.2 and 8.23 cm/sec in the low dose group and to 24.3 and 12.5 cm/sec in the high dose group (Panminerva Medica 2010 June). ‘This study, clearly indicates pycnogenol ability to improve vascular function and restore cochlear blood perfusion, which in turn relieves the severity of tinnitus symptoms‘ said Dr. Belcaro.
Some doctors who have used pycnogenol recommend a dose of 20 mg for every 20lbs of body weight to obtain optimal results. (approximately 150-200mg per day.) Pycnogenol is absorbed by the body within 30 minutes and it’s effectiveness lasts 72 hours.
Pycnogenol Side Effects
Is generally safe and well tolerated. By thinning the blood it could cause adverse reactions in those who are on aspirin, coumadin or other medications that cause blood thinning. As a general precaution, pregnant women should not take pycnogenol within the first three months of pregnancy.