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- Reducing inflammation
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- Preventing heart disease
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Pycnogenol is the name associated with pine bark extract, that’s been extracted from trees within Southern France. Mainly used as a dietary supplement, Pycnogenol has been shown to improve the signs of aging, improve heart health, reduce symptoms of menopause, aid in weight-loss, and much more.
Based on its wide range of effects and benefits, Pycnogenol has been shown to treat anything from wrinkles in terms of skin care, to symptoms of ADHD in children, to cancer and diabetes. This supplement actually works as an antioxidant, based on its high procyanidin content. This natural flavonoid produces both neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects.
What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol comes from the bark of the pinus maritima which grows along the coast of France. This water-soluble flavonoid is amongst some of the most popular supplements within the United States. It is known for its decades of European research and medicinal use.
A French student studying at the Biological and Medical faculty at the University of Bordeaux actually made this discovery in the late 1940s. It wasn’t until 1979 that he coined this supplement Pycnogenol, due to its blend of flavonoids, helping to protect users from free radicals and oxidative damage.
There are currently over sixty diseases that are linked to free radical damage and Pycnogenol has the ability to neutralize these harmful molecules. However, the antioxidant effects of this supplement are only the beginning.
The Many Benefits of Pycnogenol
The benefits of Pycnogenol helps treat various conditions. From hypertension and asthma to tinnitus and muscle pain. As a supplement, it’s highly beneficial when:
- Preventing strokes and heart disease
- Managing symptoms associated with cirrhosis of the liver
- Increasing libido and testosterone production
- Supporting and protecting immune system
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving joint health
It’s also often taken to boost athletic and sexual performance while producing anti-aging effects and benefits for healthier looking skin. There are dozens of conditions that have been improved by taking Pycnogenol, however, not all uses have been validated through human research trials.
Effects on Cardiovascular Health
An area that has been significantly researched is Pycnogenol in terms of improving cardiovascular health. When taking this supplement, users improve overall circulation, reducing risk factors of heart disease. Within one study, participants were given 200 mg daily for eight weeks. For those who had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, 32 percent displayed improvements, in comparison to a placebo group who displayed zero changes.
Another way in which Pycnogenol helps improve cardiovascular health is by improving overall cholesterol and blood lipid levels. High cholesterol is a known precursor to heart attacks and stroke, increasing one’s risk. In a separate six-week study, 150 mg of Pycnogenol was administered daily, resulting in a 7 percent decrease in LDL or bad cholesterol and a 10.4 percent increase in HDL or good cholesterol. Within another study, a daily dose of 360 mg was represented by a 19.7 percent increase in HDL levels and a 13 decrease in LDL levels.
The nootropic community has gained interest in Pycnogenol based on its cognitive benefits. Within one study, 61 children with ADHD were given Pycnogenol daily, at one milligram per one kilogram of bodyweight. After four weeks, significant improvements were seen in the experimental group.
In comparison to baseline and the placebo group, this group of children showed significant improvements in attention and focus, while exhibiting decreased symptoms of hyperactivity. Within one month after supplementation was discontinued, rates returned to baseline. In other studies, improvements were experienced regarding attention, memory, mood, and executive functioning.
Combatting Symptoms of Menopause
Menopausal women display a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. When studying Pycnogenol, it was found to improve these symptoms while benefiting overall health. Within an eight-week study, 100 mg of Pycnogenol was administered daily. The results showed a 45.6 percent decrease in six of the most commonly displayed symptoms, being hot flashes, night sweats, low libido, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and irregular periods.
Pycnogenol for Weight-Loss
The benefits of Pycnogenol are also seen in terms of weight-loss and metabolism. Since Pycnogenol increases the uptake of glucose into fat cells, this is beneficial in terms of diabetes and obesity. Although further research is required, it’s believed that this supplement also prevents the accumulation of fat, boosting fat metabolism.
Daily doses between 100 and 200 mg are viewed as safe for human supplementation. The best dose for you will depend on your lifestyle and dietary habits, your weight, gender, hydration levels, fitness levels, and more. It’s important to note that not all natural supplements affect everyone the same.
Dosing will also depend on the reason why you’re taking Pycnogenol to begin with. For weight-loss, daily doses between 150 and 250 mg are recommended. For those trying to improve their cardiovascular health, doses between 100 and 200 mg are recommended. You can speak to your doctor specifically, as your body chemistry and medical background is unique to you.
Is Pycnogenol Safe?
Supplementing with Pycnogenol is believed to be safe. The only reported side effects have been short-lived nausea and stomach issues. These are generally only reported when users first begin taking Pycnogenol. If you’re pregnant or nursing, please do not take this supplement unless otherwise stated by your doctor. If you are due to have surgery, please discontinue dosing two weeks prior.
If you are taking any medications, please speak with your doctor first as they may contradict Pycnogenol’s effects. These medications include anti-diabetic, immunosuppressant, and anti-hypertensive drugs. If you suffer from liver or kidney disease, immune system disorders, diabetes, and/or high blood pressure, this may not be the best supplement for you.