What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol is the name of a patented form of pine bark extract. It contains a mixture of flavonoids, catechins, phenolic acids and proanthocyanidins, all of which contribute to the clinical effects of the product as a supplement.
Where Does Pycnogenol Come From?
Pycnogenol comes from a specific species of pine tree called the maritime pine, or Pinus pinaster, which is native to France but is cultivated for its wood in many countries.
Pycnogenol Health Benefits
Pycnogenol is healthy for the heart in many ways. It can increase blood flow in both healthy people and those with cardiovascular diseases; in addition it has been shown to reduce blood pressure in some studies but more research is necessary.
It can have benefits for cognition and attention as well. Although the studies are variable in quality and results, there is an overall trend for improvement in ADHD children, as well as one study noting improved memory in healthy adults.
Pycnogenol has general anti-oxidant properties, sequestering free radicals and providing protective effects for many parts of the body including the brain, joints, liver and red blood cells. There has also been one study completed showing a positive effect on alleviating symptoms of asthma; preventing the contraction of airways associated with this disease.
Pycnogenol is showing promise as a potent treatment for erectile dysfunction. It is thought this is related to its interactions with nitric oxide and increased blood flow.
Pycnogenol Benefits for Bodybuilding
Pycnogenol has positive effects on joint health and inflammation, common problems among bodybuilders due to the additional load stress. It augments inflammatory signals and facilitates the movement of immune cells across membranes into inflamed areas. It is highly effective at treating the symptoms of arthritis, reducing pain and stiffness and increasing function; generally this only occurs after prolonged supplementation however.
Pycnogenol may also be useful during cutting phases due to its anti-obesity effects. It is thought this occurs due to its antioxidant properties, which reduce the amount of fat accumulation that occurs due to oxidative stress. In several studies weight gain has been attenuated, and although no studies have been completed on lean subjects, it shows promise as a fat burner.
Pycnogenol has some interactions with testosterone. Several studies have noted a trend of increasing testosterone when supplemented for erectile dysfunction, particularly for those in the low levels of normal range.
Pycnogenol is also a nitric oxide booster, providing increased blood flow and pump for workouts.
Pycnogenol Side Effects, Safety and Negatives
There are no side effects currently reported with pycnogenol supplements.
Pycnogenol Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing
Over a long period of time doses of 40-60mg per day have been effective; however generally a standard dose is 100-200mg. This has been given both divided into two doses or one per day, as well as with food and without; it appears that all are equally effective.
Pycnogenol can be bought in capsule form, or is found in some nitric oxide supplements such as Reflex NOS Fusion.
Pycnogenol may be well stacked with a preworkout due to its nitric oxide boosting properties. In addition its range of positive properties mean it would go well with testosterone boosters or any recovery, weight loss or bodybuilding stack.
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Carr A, Frei B. The role of natural antioxidants in preserving the biological activity of endothelium-derived nitric oxide. Free Radic Biol Med. (2000)
Trebatická J, et al. Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. (2006)
Luzzi R, et al. Pycnogenol® supplementation improves cognitive function, attention and mental performance in students. Panminerva Med. (2011)
Tenenbaum S, et al. An experimental comparison of Pycnogenol and methylphenidate in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). J Atten Disord. (2002)
Belcaro G, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with Pycnogenol. The SVOS (San Valentino Osteo-arthrosis Study). Evaluation of signs, symptoms, physical performance and vascular aspects. Phytother Res. (2008)
Iravani S, Zolfaghari B. Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical effects of Pinus pinaster bark extract. Res Pharm Sci. (2011)
Zižková P, Viskupičová J, Horáková L. Pycnogenol and Ginkgo biloba extract: effect on peroxynitrite-oxidized sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca-ATPase. Interdiscip Toxicol. (2010)
Schäfer A, Högger P. Oligomeric procyanidins of French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) effectively inhibit alpha-glucosidase. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. (2007)
Aoki H, et al. Clinical assessment of a supplement of Pycnogenol® and L-arginine in Japanese patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. Phytother Res. (2012)
Hosseini S, et al. Pycnogenol((R)) in the Management of Asthma. J Med Food. (2001)
Ledda A, et al. Investigation of a complex plant extract for mild to moderate erectile dysfunction in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-arm study. BJU Int. (2010)
Stanislavov R, Nikolova V. Treatment of erectile dysfunction with pycnogenol and L-arginine. J Sex Marital Ther. (2003)