Pycnogenol is a compound of natural chemicals. It comes from the bark of a European pine tree.
Pycnogenol is thought to be an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage.
Pycnogenol is the registered trademark name for a French formula. The active ingredients in pycnogenol can also be extracted from other sources, including peanut skin, grape seed, and witch hazel bark.
Why do people take pycnogenol?
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.
More research is needed to see how this supplement affects all of these conditions.
Pycnogenol may help with other conditions as well. They include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- High cholesterol
- Memory problems
- Menopause symptoms
- Pain during pregnancy
We need more research to know for sure if pycnogenol helps treat these conditions.
Optimal doses of pycnogenol have not been set for any condition. Quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely from maker to maker. This makes it very hard to set a standard dose. Ask your doctor for advice.
Can you get pycnogenol naturally from foods?
Traditionally, people might drink a brew made from pine bark -- rich in pycnogenol -- as a treatment.
What are the risks?
Side effects. Pycnogenol seems well-tolerated for use in adults for up to 6 months. It may cause side effects such as:
Risks. Pycnogenol may stimulate the immune system. So it may not be safe for people with immune disorders, such as:
It's not known if pycnogenol is safe for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Interactions. If you take any medications regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using pycnogenol supplements. They could interact with medicines to suppress the immune system, chemotherapy drugs, and blood thinners.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate dietary supplements; however, it treats them like foods rather than medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, the makers of supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or effective before selling them on the market.