4 Ways Pycnogenol Might Benefit Your Health

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

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Pycnogenol® is the trade name for an extract of the French maritime pine tree (Pinus maritima). A natural source of several antioxidants, Pycnogeno®l is often marketed as a supplement for heart and circulatory health.

Health Benefits of Pycnogenol®

Studies suggest that Pycnogenol® may be of some benefit in treating the following conditions:

1) Menstrual Pain

In a 2008 study of 116 women (ages 18 to 48), researchers found that those prone to severe pain during menstruation experienced a significant decrease in pain and required less pain-relieving medication while taking Pycnogenol®.

More remedies for menstrual cramps.

2) Asthma

Pycnogenol® may be useful as an adjunct therapy in the management of childhood asthma, according to a study published in 2004. After three months of following 60 children with mild-to-moderate asthma, researchers determined that those taking Pycnogenol® had significantly more improvement in lung function and asthma symptoms (compared to study members assigned to a placebo).

See Natural Remedies For Asthma.

3) Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Several studies show that Pycnogenol® may reduce swelling and pain in people with chronic venous insufficiency, a condition in which the veins do not efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart.

Pycnogenol® is just one natural remedy for chronic venous insufficiency. Also learn about Grape Seed Extract, Butcher's Broom, Horse Chestnut, and Rutin.

4) Diabetes

Pycnogenol® may help control some cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes, suggests a small study published in 2008.

For 12 weeks, 48 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure took either a daily Pycnogenol® supplement or a placebo pill. By the study's end, those taking Pycnogenol® showed improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels.

A more recent study, published in 2009, shows that Pycnogenol® may improve vision in people in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy (a leading cause of blindness among people with diabetes).

Find out other Natural Treatments For Diabetes and learn strategies for preventing diabetes.

Uses for Pycnogenol®

In alternative medicine, Pycnogenol® is typically used for the following conditions:

Some proponents of Pycnogenol® also claim that the supplement can aid in the prevention of cancer.

Caveats

Although Pycnogenol® is generally considered safe, it may interfere with the action of certain drugs used in chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Pycnogenol® may also cause irritability and lower energy levels, especially when used in treatment of ADHD.

Using Pycnogenol® for Health

Due to a lack of research, it's too soon to recommend this supplement for any condition. 

Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

You can get tips on using supplements here, but if you're considering the use of supplements, talk with your primary care provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Sources

Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Rohdewald P, Pellegrini L, Ledda A, Vinciguerra G, Ricci A, Gizzi G, Ippolito E, Fano F, Dugall M, Acerbi G, Cacchio M, Di Renzo A, Hosoi M, Stuard S, Corsi M. "Comparison of Pycnogenol and Daflon in treating chronic venous insufficiency: a prospective, controlled study." Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2006 12(2):205-12.

Koch R. "Comparative study of Venostasin and Pycnogenol in chronic venous insufficiency." Phytother Res. 2002 16 Suppl 1:S1-5.

Lau BH, Riesen SK, Truong KP, Lau EW, Rohdewald P, Barreta RA. "Pycnogenol as an adjunct in the management of childhood asthma." J Asthma. 2004;41(8):825-32.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "About Herbs: Pine Bark Extract". December 28, 1009.

Petrassi C, Mastromarino A, Spartera C. "PYCNOGENOL in chronic venous insufficiency." Phytomedicine. 2000 7(5):383-8.

Steigerwalt R, Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Di Renzo A, Grossi MG, Ricci A, Dugall M, Cacchio M, Schönlau F. "Pycnogenol improves microcirculation, retinal edema, and visual acuity in early diabetic retinopathy." J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2009 25(6):537-40.

Suzuki N, Uebaba K, Kohama T, Moniwa N, Kanayama N, Koike K. "French maritime pine bark extract significantly lowers the requirement for analgesic medication in dysmenorrhea: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study." J Reprod Med. 2008 53(5):338-46.

Zibadi S, Rohdewald PJ, Park D, Watson RR. "Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes by Pycnogenol supplementation." Nutr Res. 2008 28(5):315-20.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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