Are you interested in Pycnogenol benefits? Maybe you want to slow down aging or support the overall health of your skin? How about a natural solution to erectile dysfunction?
Pycnogenol may be able to give you ALL of these health benefits. Note that it doesn’t only help issues that haunt men. It also has several compounds that may be beneficial for women too!
How exactly? Well, pycnogenol is loaded with oligomeric proanthocyanin compounds (OPCs), which is why many experts call it a super-antioxidant.
Pycnogenol is sold in supplement form designed to improve the circulatory system. One of the ways it does that is by increasing the body’s nitric oxide levels.
What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol is the trade name of a product derived from French maritime pine bark. It is known by many other names such as pine bark, maritime bark extract, Pinus pinaster (its scientific name), Leucoanthocyanidins, and others.
The active ingredients from its extracts are similar to those that can be derived from witch hazel bark, tea, cocoa, grape seed, apples, wine, nuts, and peanut skin.
Pycnogenol is a fabulous source of antioxidants like proanthocyanidins. This is the reason why it's marketed as a health product for diabetes, tinnitus, menopause, chronic venous insufficiency, inflammation, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction.
There are many potential health benefits that can be derived from pycnogenol. Some of them include the following:
These potential pycnogenol benefits are supported by clinical studies. However, more research is needed to fully understand how it works.
1. May Support Blood Flow
According to one study, supplementing with pycnogenol may improve the function of the endothelium—the inner lining of the blood vessels. The endothelium produces nitric oxide (NO), a compound that relaxes and widens the blood vessels, thereby improving blood circulation in the whole body.
2. May Reduce Venous Insufficiency Symptoms
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) causes swelling and pain—especially in the legs. CVI is a condition in which the veins are unable to return the blood effectively from the legs to the heart.
Along with improved blood circulation, supplementing with pycnogenol seems to reduce swelling and provide pain relief.
3. May Improve Skin Health and Beauty
Studies suggest that antioxidants like pycnogenol not only improve skin hydration but also increase elasticity too.
In another medical study, researchers observed that pycnogenol can reduce the levels of free radicals in the body. Among other things, this process improves skin regeneration.
Some of the other ways that pine bark extract can benefit skin health include the following:
Supplementing with pycnogenol also helps in the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen. These two compounds help improve skin firmness, elasticity, and hydration.
4. May Help With ADHD Management
Children with ADHD may also benefit from supplementing with pycnogenol. One study found that children with ADHD symptoms who took this antioxidant for four weeks experienced a reduction in hyperactivity.
Other benefits that were observed include increased concentration, better visual and motor skills, and improved attention span. However, do take note that researchers also observed that long-term treatment and supplementation may be necessary because the benefits fade after children stop taking pine bark extract supplements.
5. May Help Control Diabetes and Its Complications
That is about 34.2 million people. About 7.3 million of them remain undiagnosed.
Lowering blood sugar levels isn’t the only potential benefit that you can get from using this antioxidant. Studies show that maritime pine bark extracts may also help treat diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a type of vision problem that people experience due to diabetes. Also, it's one of the leading causes of blindness in diabetics.
One study suggests that using pine bark extract may help inhibit the swelling in the retina. 75% of study participants experienced vision improvement after supplementing with this antioxidant.
Note however, that despite its potential benefit for diabetes, using this product as part of treatment is still not recommended without proper advice from a medical professional. It may interact with medications that you are taking so check with your doctor first.
6. May Protect the Brain Cells
According to one study, pycnogenol may reduce the damage to brain cells. This particular study looked into the benefits of using the extract to treat a recent traumatic brain injury. At the same time, the neuroprotective action of pycnogenol could come in handy in a wide range of other health issues.
More studies are needed to be sure, but it could well be that pycnogenol has potential benefits for the aging brain too, thanks to its antioxidative action.
7. May Help in Weight Management
Even though Pycnogenol doesn't directly eliminate excess weight, it has other related benefits. Studies reported the extract can lower triglyceride levels, reduce waist size, and increase high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL, the "good" cholesterol).This effect is seen after 3 to 6 months of supplementation with this extract.
8. May Relieve Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a condition that is characterized by a continuous ringing sound in the ear. It can be triggered by several factors, which includes hypertension or even hypotension.
It can also be caused by disorders in the circulatory system.
According to one study, taking this bark extract supplement can remove away tinnitus symptoms. In fact, 87% of participants of the said study became completely asymptomatic after taking supplementing for 3 to 6 months.
Experts also suggest that Pycnogenol can improve blood flow to the cochlea. The cochlea is the part of the inner ear that's essential for hearing.
9. May Help With Metabolic Syndrome
Studies also suggest that pine bark extract may be used as part of the treatment for diseases related to metabolic syndrome. These disorders include hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
We have already covered the Pycnogenol benefits for diabetes. Some of the potential benefits that can be gained from this extract include:
Experts believe that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of this medication are the key to its potential for treating metabolic syndrome.
10. May Improve Cognitive Health
Improved cognitive health is another potential Pycnogenol benefit. According to a study conducted in Australia, elderly individuals who took this antioxidant showed improvement in several cognitive variables.
These include their performance in episodic memory, working memory, attention span, and psychomotor performance.
11. May Reduce Erectile Dysfunction
There are some small studies that suggest that pine bark extract may help with erectile dysfunction. The interest in this potential benefit lies in the fact that it can help boost blood flow and also its impact on nitric oxide levels.
Take note that in these studies, this antioxidant was combined with other substances such as L-arginine, which may also help improve the quality of erections.
And still, the results look promising and further research is warranted. In one study, 92.5% of test subjects experienced an improvement in erection quality after supplementing with pine bark extract.
12. May Reduce Oxidative Stress
One of the Pycnogenol benefits is that it can reduce levels of oxidative stress and increase the activity of antioxidants. This particular benefit may help with a lot of related medical conditions such as cancer and ADHD among others.
Precautions and Side Effects
All in all, pycnogenol is fairly safe to use, and side effects are quite rare. However, that doesn’t discount the possibility that there will be people who will experience them.
It's always better to assume that every drug or supplement may have side effects and interactions. That's why we always recommend our readers to consult with their doctor before supplementing with anything, especially if they already have any medical conditions.
If you haven’t tried pycnogenol before, then start with a small dose. This will help to determine its effects in your particular case.
Here are some of the reported side effects:
Even though this product is considered safe by most doctors, it's still not recommended for the following people:
It is true that people can take advantage of Pycnogenol benefits, such as a potential solution for erectile dysfunction. However, it also poses certain risks, which is why you should get professional medical advice before using this product.