Name of ingredient
Pycnogenol (Pinus pinaster)
As one of the most versatile supplements currently in the marketplace, Pycnogenol has been extensively studied over the past 40 years. More than 280 public clinical studies and reviews have been conducted to ensure the safety and efficacy of this ingredient; to date, roughly 7,000 patients have participated in 98 clinical studies. Published findings have revealed many beneficial applications of Pycnogenol for heart and circulatory health, joint care, oral and topical skin care/beauty, cognitive function, as well as women’s health. In 2008, Pycnogenol was ranked as one of the top-selling 30 herbal dietary supplements in the U.S.
A natural plant extract, Pycnogenol derives from the bark of the maritime pine tree. These trees are native to the southwestern Mediterranean region, and largely grow along the coast of southwest France in Les Landes de Gascogne. Currently, the Landes forest is the largest maritime pine forest in Europe.
The maritime pine tree has often been used as a source of timber within its native regions. As a natural extract, this ingredient is used for its strong antioxidant properties. Patented under the name Pycnogenol, it has been used in Europe since the early 1970s, and was first introduced to the U.S. in 1987. Today, Horphag Research is the exclusive worldwide supplier of Pycnogenol.
Pycnogenol has four basic and beneficial properties:
• It is a powerful antioxidant
• It serves as a natural anti-inflammatory
• It selectively binds to collagen and elastin
• It contributes to the production of vascular mediator nitric oxide (this helps to vasodilate blood vessels)
Recommended dosage has varied depending on the scientific results of the clinical studies and reviews. As a general rule, 1 mg of Pycnogenol per kilogram of body weight is suggested for safe and effective results.
Pycnogenol can be found in several formats, including tablets, capsules, soft gels, powders, strips, shakes and drinks.
Some people may experience minor stomach irritations, headaches, dizziness or nausea; therefore, it is recommended to take Pycnogenol with food. As a precaution, Pycnogenol should not be taken during the first three months of pregnancy. To date, no serious side effects have been reported.
Pycnogenol has been affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for use in conventional foods and beverages. These findings, based on the evaluation of clinical safety and pre-clinical toxicology results, were conducted by an independent panel of experts. The data has been gathered from more than 70 clinical studies on healthy participants and patients with a particular pathology or dysfunction.
Current findings have revealed many additional effects of Pycnogenol. For example, new investigations published in Panminerva Medica have found Pycnogenol can help reduce the signs and symptoms of menopause. Over an eight-week period, study participants were given a daily dose of 100mg of Pycnogenol. Results indicated considerable reduction in hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and bloating. The study also revealed Pycnogenol can help with digestive problems and irregular heartbeat.
Another study published in Panminerva Medica found Pycnogenol to be effective in enhancing the mental performance of healthy college students. Following an eight-week trial, participants demonstrated an improvement in attention, memory and mood. The results further indicated a 17 per cent decrease in anxiety, effectively improving cognitive function.
Most recently, a clinical trial published in the January 2010 issue of Pharmacology and Physiology reported that Pycnogenol can help to reduce visible signs of aging. The clinical trial investigated 20 healthy women between 55 and 68 years of age. Over a 12-week period, participants were given 75 mg of Pycnogenol daily. The results found this natural supplement to improve the hydration, elasticity and overall appearance of skin.