We all know the power of antioxidants to improve health and thehigh-antioxidant foodswe should eat regularly. But did you know that pine bark extract, like pine oil, is one of nature’s super antioxidants? It’s true.
What gives pine bark extract its notoriety as a powerful ingredient and super antioxidant is that it’s loaded with oligomeric proanthocyanidin compounds, OPCs for short. The same ingredient can be found in grapeseed oil, the skin of peanuts and witch hazel bark. But what makes this miracle ingredient so amazing?
While OPCs found in this extract are mostly known for their antioxidant-producing benefits, these amazing compounds exude antibacterial, antiviral, anticarcinogenic, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. Pine bark extract can help reduce muscle soreness and may help improve conditions relating to poor circulation, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, diabetes, ADHD, female reproductive issues, skin, erectile dysfunction, eye disease and sports stamina.
Seems like it must be pretty amazing, but let’s look closer. The list goes on a bit further, as the OPCs in thisextract may “inhibit lipid peroxidation, platelet aggregation, capillary permeability and fragility, and to affect enzyme systems,” which basically means it may be a natural treatment for many serious health conditions, such as stroke and heart disease. (1, 2)
What Is Pine Bark Extract?
Pine bark extract comes from the inner bark of the Pinus pinaster tree, most commonly found in Europe. A popular variety is the pinus maritime or the maritime pine that grows exclusively along the coast of southwest France.
This bark extract has been around for about 450 years. In 1534, a French ship led by the famous explorer Jacques Cartier became stranded in ice near Quebec, Canada. The crew fell extremely ill from scurvy, an extreme lack of vitamin C. Cartier’s crew crossed paths with a Quebec Indian who encouraged them to drink a tea made from pine bark and needles.
Four hundred years later, a French researcher named Jacques Masquelier did some studies to understand why this natural remedy was so effective. He learned about the seemingly omnipotent antioxidant within it and how those antioxidants increase the absorption of vitamin C.
Continued research showed that the pine bark contained flavonols and bioflavonoids, which hold tissue-repairing properties. Masquelier was easily able to create a pine bark extract from materials that were otherwise known as waste.
1. Lowers Glucose Levels, Improving Diabetic Symptoms
Pine bark extract has been studied with regard to its ability to help diabetic patients. A study was conducted by the Guang An Men Hospital of Chinese Medical Science Research Institutewith 77 diabetes type II patients to determine if theextract of the French Maritime pine bark provided anti-diabetic effects. Patients were given 100 milligrams of Pycnogenol®, a branded version of pine bark extract, for 12 weeks, with continued anti-diabetic treatment.
The effects of the pine bark extract showed significant lower levels of blood glucose and improved endothelial function when compared to placebo, concluding that supplementation of Pycnogenol for treating conventional diabetes may be beneficial. (3)
2. Helps Prevent Hearing Loss and Balance
Ototoxicity is ear poisoning and can occur when exposed to certain drugs or chemicals, such as cisplatin, that damage the inner ear or the vestibulocochlear nerve. This nerve affects our balance and hearing by sending signals to the brain. This condition can be temporary or permanent — however, some studies have indicated that pine bark extract may help alleviate these symptoms due to its high presence of antioxidants. (4)
Thus, this powerful extract works as a natural ear infection remedy while improving balance and preventing hearing loss.
3. Staves OffInfections
Studies have been conducted to review the effects of pine bark extract on pseudomonas infectious wounds. These wounds occur most frequently in hospitals or in those with weakened immune systems, such as after surgery. However, healthy people are not immune and can also develop mild infections, in particular after being in improperly chlorinated hot tubs or swimming pools.
In oneparticular study published in Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences, researchers investigated the antibacterial activity of pine bark extract essential oil on staph infections, E. coli and pseudomonas infections. The antibacterial activity was assessed indicating that the essential oil of pine bark, specifically the proanthocyanidins, were effective against P. aeruginosa, significantly inhibiting its growth. Additionally, the results showed that the extract has significant “anti-pseudomonas activity,” making it a potential natural remedy and possible preventive measure for infections. (5)
4. Protects the Skin from Ultraviolet Exposure
Who doesn’t want amazing skin? Pine bark extract may be the perfect treatment since it’s an antioxidant dynamo.
There is a seemingly growing problem with skin exposure to ultraviolet radiation and the confusion of how to get vitamin D from the sun while avoiding these skin-damaging rays. A review was conducted of French maritimepine bark extract, specifically using the nutritional supplement Pycnogenol.
The study provided clear evidence that Pycnogenol does, indeed, offer photoprotection — however, it came out even better than expected, showing that it may be used to reduce hyperpigmentation of human skin while improving the “skin barrier function and extracellular matrix homeostasis.” (6)
5. DecreasesErectile Dysfunction
If you knew you could resolve your erectile dysfunction and, therefore, naturally remedy impotence issues, wouldn’t you? Erectile dysfunction has increased over the past decade or two, creating a pathway for various medications to land on the shelves of numerous medicine cabinets. But, as you know, going for the natural approach can make a huge difference in overall health.
According to a Japanese study, the combination of Pycnogenolt and L-arginine may produce the results you’re looking for, making the bedroom a much happier place. Forty-seven Japanese men with mild erectile dysfunction were given supplementation L-arginine and French maritime pine bark extract over a period of time. The studies revealed that the sperm concentration greatly increased after about eight to 16 weeks of treatment, to include improved orgasmic function. No side effects were noted, unlike its synthetic counterpart. (7)
As I mentioned, pine bark extract is superior when it comes to antioxidants. These antioxidants scavenge those damaging free radicals in an effort to eliminate them, ultimately preventing disease.
Studies were conducted in Turkey on subjects who underwent abdominal surgery to determine if the pine bark extract could help reduce the inflammation. They were given Pycnogenolfor a period of 10 days. The outcome showed significant healing when compared to those subjects who were not given any drug or remedy, concluding that Pycnogenol may be an effective remedy for healing of surgery-related lesions. (8)
7. HelpsIncrease Athletic Performance
Pine bark extract has been studied regarding its relationship to exercise performance, oxidative stress and inflammation to body that has been imposed by exercise. Research indicates that Pycnogenol provides an increase in endurance performance of trained athletes. It does this by improving the time it takes the body to reach a fatigued state through increased serum NAD+ levels.
Additionally, athletes have endured less cramping and muscle pain when using the extract. It’s likely that muscle recovery time improved as well due to the high antioxidants pine bark extract contains. (9)
Related:Top 7 Benefits of Green Tea: The No. 1 Anti-Aging Beverage
Pine Bark Extract vs. Aspirin
1. Pine Bark Inhibits Clotting Better than Aspirin
An surprisingstudy found that pine bark extract was far better than aspirin at “inhibiting smoking-induced clotting,” using lower amounts without the bleeding often found when using aspirin. (10)
2. Aspirin Can Cause Gastrointestinal Bleeding
A 15-year Dutch study was published stating that 27,939 healthy female health professionals were given aspirin or a placebo for a period of time. While the aspirin reduced the risk for cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer, among other cancers, the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding outweighed those benefits, creating more risks to the body. (11, 12)
3. Both Aspirin and Pine Bark Extract Eliminate Pain
While both eliminate pain, the pine bark extract is a far better choice. As noted, aspirin can cause severe gastrointestinal issues. Pycnogenol has not been found to cause these issues — however, it may take a little longer the feel the relief from pain than aspirin. Regardless, a natural option is available and far worth the wait. (13)
Related:8 Natural Painkillers
How to Use
Pine bark extract can be found in liquid, tablet or capsule form containing 85 percent to 90 percent OPCs. It can also be found as creams, lotions or ointments, typically containing 0.5 percent to 2 percent pine bark extract.
If you choose to use Pycnogenol, follow the dosage instructions on the label. It’s best to check with your doctor about the dosage, based on the symptoms you have and other possible conditions, prior to taking either pine bark extract or Pycnogenol.
Here are some basic guidelines as reported by WebMD:
- For allergies: 50 milligrams twice daily.
- For asthma in children: 1 milligram per pound of body weight given in two divided doses.
- For poor circulation: 45–360 milligrams daily or 50–100 milligrams three times daily.
- For diseases of the retina, including those related to diabetes: 50 milligrams three times daily.
- For mild high blood pressure: 200 milligrams daily.
- For improving exercise capacity in athletes: 200 milligrams daily.
Risks and Side Effects
While most studies do not indicate major side effects, pine bark extract may cause irritability and fatigue, and could interact with other drugs. Make sure to seek out the advice of your physician prior to using pine bark extract or the branded name, Pycnogenol.
If you are taking blood thinners, do not take pine bark extract or Pycnogenol unless approved by your doctor. It’s been noted that taking OPCs and vitamin C supplements at the same time could increase blood pressure if you have hypertension. (14, 15)
Pine bark extract offers some amazing benefits since it’s so high in powerful antioxidants. From diabetes and sexual function to sports performance and beautiful skin, pine bark extract may be worth exploring to provide results you’re looking to achieve.
Consider pine bark extract through a conversation with your physician or a functional medicine doctor. You may want to start slow, taking smaller amounts, to ensure that your body works well with the OPCs found in pine bark extract. Once you’re sure that you don’t have any negative reactions, you may be able to increase your dosage according to the label.
Pine bark is a herbal extract which is available in the UK under the trade name Pycnogenol®. It's rich in several bioflavonoids that have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The little evidence available suggests that pine bark extract may result in an improvement in the symptoms of osteoarthritis.How quickly does pine bark extract work? ›
Most of the beneficial substances in pine bark extract should absorb into your system within 24-48 hours.Does pine bark extract increase testosterone? ›
A 2010 study assessed men who took a combination of pine bark extract and L-arginine aspartate for 6 months. It found that men taking the supplement had improved ED symptoms and higher total plasma testosterone levels than those receiving a placebo.Does pine bark extract help with anxiety? ›
Promotes healthy brain function. A 2011 Italian trial administered a pine bark extract supplement to students for eight weeks, resulting in improved concentration, memory and mood, and a decrease in anxiety levels.How much pine bark extract should you take a day? ›
Dosing. Doses of pine bark extract have been studied in clinical trials, most commonly at 150 mg per day in 3 divided doses.Does pine bark extract lower blood pressure? ›
Gianni Belcaro, a lead researcher of the study. "The results of this study demonstrated Pycnogenol®'s ability not only to reduce blood pressure, but also to relieve the kidney damage caused by chronic hypertension."Can you take pine bark daily? ›
Dosing. Maritime pine bark extract has most often been used by adults at a dose of 50 mg, taken 2-3 times daily, for up to one year. It's also used in various products, including creams and topical powders.Is pine bark good for kidneys? ›
The current data showed a significant increase in the total phenolic content in pine bark extract in compared with the fruit extract. Conclusion: The pine bark and fruit can be useful in the prevention and treatment of kidney stones due to the high diuretic properties and antioxidant activity.Does pine bark increase estrogen? ›
In addition, the pine bark extract was associated with a reduction in levels of oxidative stress. “Pycnogenol does not appear to have any phyto-estrogen-like activity and in a study with women suffering endometriosis Pycnogenol was found to have no influence on women's estrogen levels,” they added. Authors: S.Does pine bark increase heart rate? ›
At the conclusion of the 12-week study, there was significant decrease of systolic and diastolic pressure as well as a decrease in heart rate in the PycnoQ10® group, compared to marginal improvements in the control group.
Moreover, in addition to its antioxidant effects, PYC significantly reduced LDL-cholesterol levels and increased HDL-cholesterol levels in plasma of two-thirds of the subjects. While the LDL changes reversed during washout, the HDL increase did not.What plant produces the most testosterone? ›
It was confirmed that Pinus species are a rich source of testosterone since it was further detected in P. tabulaeformis and P. bungeana and in the reproductive organs of other plant species, including ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) and lily (Lilium davidii) .Is pine bark good for brain? ›
Boost Brain Function and Recovery
New research shows that adults over the age of 55, supplementing with pine bark extract over the course of one year, showed superior results in brain-related tasks compared to placebo groups.
Pinus thunbergii bark extract rich in flavonoids promotes hair growth in dorsal skin by regulating inflammatory cytokines and increasing growth factors in mice - PMC. The . gov means it's official.Should pine bark extract be taken with food? ›
When should I take Pine Bark Extract? The time of day that the Organic Pine Bark Extract is consumed is flexible. However, what is important is that the Organic Pine Bark Extract is taken with food.Does Pycnogenol cause liver damage? ›
Although it has positive effects in both the treatment and control of cancer, it also has several side effects. The most well-known side effect is nephrotoxicity, which can cause severe liver damage and result in kidney failure .Does pine bark extract increase dopamine? ›
The results reveal Pycnogenol lowers stress hormones by 26.2 percent in the case of adrenaline and decreases neurostimulant dopamine by 10.8 percent, which plays an important role in brain physiology involving learning, cognition, attention and behavior.Is pine bark extract good for your eyes? ›
Mirtogenol, the patented combination of Mirtoselect (bilberry extract) and Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) is one of the first nutritional approaches developed to address eye health. In several studies, Pycnogenol has been shown to positively affect eye health by strengthening retinal capillaries.Does pine bark extract lower blood sugar? ›
One of these inspiring natural treatments is Pycnogenol®. Pycnogenol® is a trademarked supplement derived from the bark of the French Maritime Pine tree, rich in antioxidants called oligomeric procyanidins (or OPCs). Pycnogenol® appears to lower blood glucose and improves diabetic changes to the small blood vessels.What Herb instantly lowers blood pressure? ›
Ginger appears to lower blood pressure by acting as a natural calcium channel blocker and dilating the blood vessels.
Pine offers relief in sinus and lung congestion through its stimulating expectorant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory qualities. The fresh, younger needles also contain Vitamin C.Does pine bark extract cause constipation? ›
Safety of Pine Bark Extract
Common side effects may include gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, dizziness, headache, sleepiness, urinary retention, urinary frequency, constipation, and increased perspiration.
Meanwhile, other studies have found pine bark extract to be less effective at reducing heart disease risk ( 53 , 54 ).Does Pycnogenol cause weight gain? ›
Surprisingly, people taking Pycnogenol® not only demonstrated lower blood glucose levels, but also significant weight loss during the six months, yielding optimistic results for managing this condition."Which fruit is rich in estrogen? ›
Dates, prunes, and dried apricots are a few of the dried food sources highest in phytoestrogens ( 15 ). What's more, dried fruits are chock full of fiber and other important nutrients, making them a healthy snack. Dried fruits are a potent source of phytoestrogens.What has the most natural estrogen? ›
When it comes to estrogenic foods, flax seeds rank near the top. They have the highest amount of phytoestrogen content out of all the phytoestrogen-rich foods. Flax seeds are also a great source of dietary fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol and regulate the digestive tract.Does Pycnogenol affect blood pressure? ›
Pycnogenol may have benefits for heart and artery health. It seems to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the legs. Some small studies suggest it may also protect against coronary artery disease and blood clots.Is pine bark poisonous? ›
While most tree barks are safe to eat, two that are easier to identify are pine and birch. The inner bark of all birch and pine trees is nutritious and perfect as emergency food. Pine trees have chunky thick outer bark, longer needles and cones (of which the seeds are also edible!).Is pine bark toxic? ›
White pine is generally considered to taste the best, and you should avoid Norfolk Island Pine, Ponderosa Pines, and Yew trees as these can be toxic. Once you've found a safe tree to eat, you need to properly harvest and cook pine bark, so it's fit to eat.Is grape seed extract better than pine bark extract? ›
Grape seeds can have 7 to 15 percent more proanthocyanins than pine bark and can be more potent as well as more economical. Unfortunately, the terms “grape seed extract” and “pine bark extract” have generally been used by companies to make their products more marketable.
Pycnogenol was found to be especially effective for improving vasomotor and insomnia/sleep problem symptoms, which were significantly better after 4 and 12 weeks than with placebo (p < 0.05).What is the best herb to reduce cholesterol? ›
Other herbal products: The results of several studies suggest fenugreek seeds and leaves, artichoke leaf extract, yarrow, and holy basil all may help lower cholesterol.What is the most powerful natural testosterone booster? ›
This amino acid is one of the strongest testosterone booster ingredients available. D-Aspartic acid can increase your testosterone levels by stimulating the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is the hormone that tells the Leydig cells in your testes to produce testosterone.
Bodyweight moves like burpees, pull-ups, lunges and press-ups can easily be included into your workout and will help fast-track your body into a resting metabolic rate for the next 24 hours. To go one better, slurp a protein shake after your HIIT session for an added testosterone boost.What is the one food that raises testosterone by 52 percent? ›
In all honesty, out of the complete list of foods we shared above there is one above all that is known to increase testosterone by 52% and that's … fatty fish! Yes, you read that correctly. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna have been proven time and time again to help your body produce more testosterone.Does pine bark help with ADHD? ›
Benefits for ADHD
In addition to its skin-healing properties, pine bark extract also shows promise for helping children manage ADHD symptoms. A 2006 study found that children who took a daily pine bark extract supplement for four weeks had significantly lower levels of hyperactivity.
Pine bark extract is used in many studies at a dose of 1gram per lb of body weight a day, with an upper limit of 200 mg per day.Which tree improves memory? ›
In recent decades, an extract of the leaves of the tree Ginkgo biloba L. has been used to improve memory in these disorders.Is pine bark good for varicose veins? ›
According to a new peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Angiology, Pycnogenol, a standardized natural plant extract from French maritime pine tree bark, may significantly improve the appearance, swelling and discomfort of pregnancy-induced varicose veins and spider vein clusters.Is pine bark an antifungal? ›
Conversely, fir and maritime pine bark extract, which is a softwood species, showed more antifungal activity against T. versicolor, as seen in Fig 2, 4. However, the high concentration of extracts indicated the same efficiency against both of fungus.
Herbs for Hair Growth and Health* Turn to herbs such as Gotu Kola, Nettle, Horsetail, Burdock, Triphala, and Alfalfa.What are the side effects of pine bark extract? ›
No major side-effects have been reported in previous trials, although minor side-effects include stomach upsets and headaches. In theory, pine bark may lower blood pressure and blood sugar level, and these effects have also been reported in some RCTs.Is Pycnogenol good for kidneys? ›
In summary, this study shows that the addition of Pycnogenol to ramipril treatment improves kidney function and kidney cortical flow and perfusion more so than ramipril alone in advanced hypertensive patients with histories of cardiovascular events.Does Pycnogenol cross the blood brain barrier? ›
The improved cognition and memory are attributed to pycnogenol metabolites, developing from interaction of pycnogenol-specific procyanidins with gut microbiota. The pycnogenol metabolites readily pass the blood-brain barrier, thereby effectively quenching reactive oxygen species in the brain.Does pine bark lower cholesterol? ›
Moreover, in addition to its antioxidant effects, PYC significantly reduced LDL-cholesterol levels and increased HDL-cholesterol levels in plasma of two-thirds of the subjects.Does pine bark cause constipation? ›
Safety of Pine Bark Extract
Common side effects may include gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, dizziness, headache, sleepiness, urinary retention, urinary frequency, constipation, and increased perspiration.
Following the three-month study period, results showed that supplementation with 120mg of Pycnogenol® daily significantly improved erectile function in both test groups, including: 45 percent improvement of erectile function in the diabetes participant group (vs -20 percent decrease in the placebo group)What is the most effective cure for ED? ›
Oral Drugs (PDE5 inhibitors)
Drugs known as PDE type-5 inhibitors increase penile blood flow. These are the only oral agents approved in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of ED. For best results, men with ED take these pills about an hour or two before having sex.
Vitamins B3, B9, and D are important for male sexual health and may help manage ED. Ginseng and arginine may also prove effective, but more research is necessary to confirm this.