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PYCNOGENOL

Other Names:

Condensed Tannins, Écorce de Pin, Écorce de Pin Maritime, Extrait d’Écorce de Pin, French Marine Pine Bark Extract, French Maritime Pine Bark Extract, Leucoanthocyanidins, Maritime Bark Extract, Oligomères de Procyanidine, Oligomères Procyanidol...
See All Names

Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Overview
Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Uses
Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Side Effects
Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Interactions
Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Dosing
Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Overview Information

Pycnogenol is the US registered trademark name for a product derived from the pine bark of a tree known as Pinus pinaster. The active ingredients in pycnogenol can also be extracted from other sources, including peanut skin, grape seed, and witch hazel bark.

Pycnogenol is used for treating circulation problems, allergies, asthma, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure, muscle soreness, pain, osteoarthritis, diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a disease of the female reproductive system called endometriosis, menopausal symptoms, painful menstrual periods, erectile dysfunction (ED), and an eye disease called retinopathy.

It is also used for preventing disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including stroke, heart disease, and varicose veins.

Pycnogenol is used to slow the aging process, maintain healthy skin, improve athletic endurance, and improve male fertility.

Some people use skin creams that contain pycnogenol as “anti-aging” products.

How does it work?

Pycnogenol contains substances that might improve blood flow. It might also stimulate the immune system and have antioxidant effects.

Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Possibly Effective for:

  • Allergies. Some research in people with allergies to birch shows that taking pycnogenol starting before allergy season begins might reduce allergy symptoms.
  • Circulation problems. Taking pycnogenol by mouth seems to significantly reduce leg pain and heaviness, as well as fluid retention in people with circulation problems. Some people use horse chestnut seed extract to treat this condition, but pycnogenol alone appears to be more effective.
  • Disease of the retina in the eye. Taking pycnogenol daily for two months seems to slow or prevent further worsening of retinal disease caused by diabetes, atherosclerosis, or other diseases. It also seems to improve eyesight.
  • Improved endurance in athletes. Young people (age 20-35) seem to be able to exercise on a treadmill for a longer time after taking pycnogenol daily for about a month.
  • High blood pressure. Pycnogenol seems to lower systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) but does not significantly lower diastolic blood pressure (the second number).
  • Asthma in children.
  • Varicose veins.

Possibly Ineffective for:

  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Blood clots in the vein (deep vein thrombosis, DVT). There is some evidence that taking a specific combination product (Flite Tabs) might help to prevent DVT during long-haul plane flights. The product combines a blend of 150 mg of pycnogenol plus nattokinase. Two capsules are taken 2 hours before the flight and then again 6 hours later.
  • High cholesterol. Pycnogenol seems to lower “bad cholesterol” (low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol).
  • Pelvic pain in women. There is preliminary evidence that pycnogenol might help reduce pelvic pain in women with endometriosis or severe menstrual cramps.
  • Pain in late pregnancy. Preliminary research suggests that taking 30 mg of pycnogenol daily reduces lower back pain, hip joint pain, pelvic pain, and pain due to varicose veins or calf cramps in the last three months of pregnancy.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED). Limited research suggests pycnogenol, used alone or in combination with L-arginine, might improve sexual function in men with ED. It seems to take up to three months of treatment for significant improvement.
  • Aging.
  • Heart disease.
  • Stroke prevention.
  • Muscle soreness.
  • Leg cramps.
  • Circulation problems in diabetes.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Menopausal symptoms.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate pycnogenol for these uses.


Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Side Effects & Safety

Pycnogenol is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in doses of 50 mg to 450 mg daily for up to 6 months. Pycnogenol can cause dizziness, gut problems, headache, and mouth ulcers.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Preliminary research suggests pycnogenol might be safe in late pregnancy. But until more is known, pycnogenol should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Pycnogenol might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using pycnogenol.

Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Interactions What is this?

Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with PYCNOGENOL

    Pycnogenol seems to increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system pycnogenol might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.

    Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.


Pine bark extract (PYCNOGENOL) Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For allergies: 50 mg twice daily.
  • For asthma in children: 1 mg per pound of body weight given in two divided doses.
  • For poor circulation: 45-360 mg daily, or 50-100 mg three times daily.
  • For diseases of the retina, including those related to diabetes: 50 mg three times daily.
  • For mild high blood pressure: 200 mg of pycnogenol daily.
  • For improving exercise capacity in athletes: 200 mg daily.

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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