July 26, 2016

Pycnogenol

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What other names is Pycnogenol known by?

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 Procyanidoliques, Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins, OPC, OPCs, PCO, PCOs, Pine Bark, Pine Bark Extract, Pinus pinaster, Pinus maritima, Proanthocyanidines Oligomériques, Procyanidin Oligomers, Procyanodolic Oligomers, Pycnogénol, Pygenol, Tannins Condensés.

What is Pycnogenol?

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.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Allergies. Some research shows that taking pycnogenol before allergy season begins might reduce allergy symptoms in people with birch allergies.
  • Asthma. Taking pycnogenol daily, along with asthma medications, seems to decrease asthma symptoms and the need for rescue inhalers in children and adults with asthma.
  • Athletic performance. Young people (age 20-35 years) seem to be able to exercise on a treadmill for a longer time after taking pycnogenol daily for about a month.
  • Circulation problems. Taking pycnogenol by mouth seems to 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 using pycnogenol alone appears to be more effective.
  • Mental function. Research suggests that taking pycnogenol improves mental function and memory in both young adults and the elderly.
  • Disease of the retina in the eye. Taking pycnogenol daily for 2 months seems to slow or prevent further worsening of retinal disease caused by diabetes, atherosclerosis, or other diseases. It also seems to improve eyesight.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Taking pycnogenol by mouth does not seem to help ADHD symptoms in adults. However, taking pycnogenol daily for one mouth appears to improve symptoms in children.
  • Clogged arteries (coronary artery disease). There is some evidence that taking 150 mg of pynogenol three times daily for 4 weeks might help improve some complications associated with clogged arteries.
  • Blood clots in deep veins (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. Also, taking pycnogenol 100 mg before a flight, 6 hours after the flight, and the following day appears to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the veins during long flights.
  • Dental plaque. Early research suggests that chewing at least 6 pieces of gum with added pycnogenol for 14 days reduces bleeding and prevents increased plaque.
  • Diabetes. Early evidence suggests that taking 50-200 mg of pycnogenol daily for 3-12 weeks slightly decreases blood sugar in people with diabetes.
  • Foot ulcers due to diabetes. Early research suggests that taking pycnogenol by mouth daily and applying it to the skin heals ulcers related to diabetes.
  • Circulation problems in diabetes. Early research shows that taking 50 mg of pycnogenol three times daily for 4 weeks improves circulation and symptoms in people with diabetes.
  • Swelling (edema). Early research suggests that taking 100 mg of pycnogenol before a flight, 6 hours after the flight, and once the next day reduces swelling and ankle swelling.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED). Limited research suggests that pycnogenol, used alone or in combination with L-arginine, might improve sexual function in men with ED. It seems to take up to 3 months of treatment for significant improvement.
  • Heart failure. Early research suggests that taking a specific combination of pycnogenol and coenzyme Q10 (PycnoQ10) for 12 weeks improves some symptoms of heart failure.
  • Hemorrhoids. Early research suggests that taking pycnogenol by mouth, alone or in combination with a pycnogenol cream, improves quality of life and symptoms of hemorrhoids.
  • High cholesterol. Pycnogenol seems to lower "bad cholesterol" (low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol).
  • High blood pressure. Pycnogenol seems to lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) but does not significantly lower diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).
  • Leg cramps. There is some evidence that taking 200 mg of pycnogenol daily might decrease leg cramps.
  • Menopausal symptoms. Early research shows that taking pycnogenol by mouth decreases menopausal symptoms, including tiredness, headache, depression and anxiety, and hot flashes.
  • Migraine. Early research suggests that taking pine bark extract (Enzogenol) by mouth in combination with vitamins E and C, daily for 3 months reduces the severity and likelihood of developing a migraine headache.
  • Osteoarthritis. There is mixed evidence about the effectiveness of pycnogenol for osteoarthritis. Pycnogenol might reduce overall symptoms, but it does not seem to reduce pain or improve the ability to perform daily tasks
  • Pain in late pregnancy. Early 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 3 months of pregnancy.
  • Pelvic pain in women. There is early evidence that pycnogenol might help reduce pelvic pain in women with endometriosis or severe menstrual cramps.
  • Improving symptoms of lupus (SLE). Early research suggests that taking pycnogenol reduces symptoms of SLE in some patients.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Early research suggests that taking 100-150 mg of pycnogenol daily for 34 days reduces tinnitus symptoms.
  • Stroke prevention.
  • Muscle soreness.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate pycnogenol for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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