Pycnogenol

Last Updated: January 2, 2024

Pine bark extract or pycnogenol is investigated for its general health and antidiabetic properties and its ability to enhance nitric oxide, which may have a significant benefit for those with erectile dysfunction. Recent studies have also shown that supplementation may help to limit symptoms associated with chronic inflammation in autoimmune disease.

Pycnogenol is most often used for

Summary

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 found in green tea (the green tea catechins that do not have "gallate" in their names). Pycnogenol is similar to grape seed extract and cocoa polyphenols as those are the three most common sources of procyanidins.

Pycnogenol's benefits include increased blood flow (via a mechanism related to increased nitric oxide levels) and improved blood glucose control. The former exerts cardioprotective effects and may help with erectile dysfunction, while the latter appears to be antidiabetic.

There are many human trials conducted on pycnogenol, but a good deal of them have industry funding. Although industry funding doesn't necessarily invalidate published results, it should always be noted. Although the range of pycnogenol research has significant breadth, it also has a relative lack of study replication. Some of the studies of pycnogenol in autoimmune disease are also open-label, meaning that neither the researchers nor the subjects are blinded to treatments. While promising, these results need to be interpreted with a degree of caution since this type of experimental design fails to control for placebo effects or any unconscious bias that may be harbored by researchers analyzing the data. The one topic that appears to have been replicated numerous times is the effects on erectile dysfunction, with the caveat that all of the studies are confounded with the inclusion of L-arginine. So the effects of pycnogenol alone on erectile dysfunction are still unknown.

Pycnogenol does appear to possess dual anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, with the latter being confirmed in humans and possibly being subject to a build-up effect over time. The low-dose buildup effect of pycnogenol as an anti-inflammatory agent would make it useful in a multinutrient format, but it may not be the most potent anti-inflammatory in isolation. The degree of measured anti-inflammatory potential on COX enzymes (targets of aspirin) are still lower than aspirin itself.

Although not the most potent anti-inflammatory agent out there, pycnogenol has shown some efficacy in alleviating symptoms in patients with autoimmune disease. Although the type of rampant inflammation during a flare far-exceeds the ability of pycnogenol, it has shown some efficacy for patients in remission phases of their disease, where symptoms tend to be driven by lower-level, chronic inflammation. One preliminary study has shown that pycnogenol may be particularly effective for relieving dry eye/dry mouth symptoms associated with Sjogren’s syndrome, a common autoimmune condition in women.

What else is Pycnogenol known as?
Note that Pycnogenol is also known as:
  • Pine Bark Extract
  • Pine Bark Procyanidins
  • Procyanidins
Pycnogenol should not be confused with:
Dosage information

Although doses in the range of 40–60 mg have been noted to be effective over a prolonged period of time, standard doses of pycnogenol appear to be in the range of 100–200 mg per day.

Studies have used twice daily dosing (dividing the daily total into two even doses to be taken with breakfast and dinner) as well as once daily dosing with breakfast. Both dosing strategies appear to be effective although they haven't been directly compared. It can be absorbed equally well when taken with or without food.

Examine Database: Pycnogenol
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