Pine bark extract is rich in numerous phytochemical nutrients which include vitamin C, proanthocyanidins, procyanidins and flavonoids. Pine bark, botanically known as Pinus pinaster is a tree native to countries along the Western Mediterranean. This tree grows up to 100 ft tall and has a bright red fissured bark. The pine produces oval cones and its paired leaves are stout. The bark extracts are carefully harvested from a live tree. Natives of the Mediterranean region used the tree bark for the treatment of scurvy. Pine bark extract combinations branded as Pycnogenol is used in many health products and supplements. The usage of the extract is backed by over 40 years of research as well as 340 published researches.
Pine Bark Extract Benefits
Some benefits of Pine bark extract documented by researchers include:
Improvement in men’s infertility – An infertility study carried out for 3 months on sub-fertile men who took Pycnogenol daily increased sperm morphology by 38%. Researchers concluded that Pycnogenol may be an effective, affordable, less-invasive and safe alternative to in-vitro fertilization and other risky therapies.
Prostate cancer treatment – A study was carried on proanthocyanidins effect on prostate cancer cells. The pine extract applied on cancer cells has powerful effects. The extract reduced the growth of cancer cells and destroyed them.
Improved erectile response – A study on erectile dysfunction was carried out on two groups of men. One group took Pycnogenol supplement and the other one was a placebo group. Men who took Pycnogenol had significant improvement in erectile dysfunction by 56% with a 16% rise in testosterone levels while the placebo group functionality only improved by 21% and a 3% in testosterone levels.
Reduction of heart or blood vessel problems – In a study published in the 2001 issue of “Nutrition Research” a team of researchers studied the effects of Pycnogenol on high blood pressure. In the background of their study, the team explains that hypertension is the most common risk factor for heart disease. The team found out that taking 200 mg of Pycnogenol per day for 8 weeks decreases systolic blood pressure (pressure from heart contraction). The team believes that Pycnogenol can increase nitric oxide levels in the body which explains its ability to lower blood pressure. Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring compound in the body that helps in relaxing blood vessels which in turn increases blood flow.
Solution for metabolic syndrome – Recent studies show that Pycnogenol lowers blood glucose in patients with type II diabetes.
Pine Bark Extract Dosage
Pine bark extract may be safe if taken orally in daily doses of 50 mg to 450 mg for up to one year and when used in powder form for up to 6 weeks or applied on skin surface as cream for up to 7 days. It’s recommended to take Pycnogenol with meals but this doesn’t appear to be a conclusive requirement. 50mg of Pycnogenol for up to 6 weeks can normalize high blood pressure. A study showed an improvement in menopause symptoms after taking 100 mg of Pycnogenol. Erectile dysfunction can be reduced with 60mg of the supplementation for 8 weeks.
Pine Bark Extract Side effects
Pycnogenol can cause mouth ulcers, headache, dizziness and gut problems. Taking recommended prescription may avoid most side effects.
From recent research, Pycnogenol may be safe if taken in late pregnancy. Until conclusive research is done, Pycnogenol should be avoided by expectant women or used cautiously. There is no sufficient research regarding the safety use of Pycnogenol in lactating mothers. Pine bark extract might cause a hyperactive immune system which may increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus among others. Blood thinning medications should not be taken with pine bark extract before surgery. Pycnogenol has blood thinning characteristics.