› What is it?
Pycnogenol is the trademarked name for a bark extract of the French maritime pine, Pinus pinaster. It is rich in flavonoids and recognized as one of the most powerful natural antioxidants.
› Health benefits
As an antioxidant, pycnogenol reduces free radicals in the body, which can have benefits across many different areas:
Studies show that pycnogenol provides several benefits to the skin. It helps with dry skin, signs of aging, elasticity of skin, wound healing, appearance of scars, reducing skin roughness, reducing redness and discoloration, and protecting against skin cancer.
Pycnogenol shows promise in helping to manage ADHD symptoms. In a study in children, it helped improve attention span, lower levels of hyperactivity and improve concentration. These symptoms started to return about a month after the children stopped taking pycnogenol.
A small study showed that pycnogenol improved cholesterol, triglyceride levels, fasting glucose levels and blood pressure in perimenopausal women.
Pycnogenol has been shown in human studies to prevent neurotoxicity and cell death under oxidative stress. It also might help lessen the effects of traumatic brain injuries.
A 2015 review shows that pycnogenol helps with obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, and may also reduce blood sugar levels and waist circumference.
Allergies and asthma
Some research shows that taking an extract of pycnogenol reduces symptoms in people with birch allergies. It also seems to reduce the need for rescue inhalers in people with asthma.
› How much do I need?
Pycnogenol is considered “possibly safe” when taken by mouth in doses of up to 450 mg daily for up to one year. Possible side effects include dizziness, stomach problems, headache and mouth sores. It should be used cautiously by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding until more is known about its safe use.
People with autoimmune diseases, bleeding conditions, diabetes or hepatitis, or who are about to have surgery, should probably avoid pycnogenol. It may also interact with some medicines and supplements. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels, and consult your pharmacist, physician or other healthcare professional before using.
› Dietary supplements
Pycnogenol extract is available as a supplement in capsule form.
Source: National Institutes of Health, Healthline
Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.