Should You Be Taking Pycnogenol® Supplements?
Pycnogenol® isn’t one of the better-known health supplements. Even many athletes haven’t heard of it – but it comes with a number of surprising health benefits and is growing in popularity. In this article we cut to the chase: What is Pycnogenol®? Why should you bother taking it? What dose should you take? How long does it take to work?
Pycnogenol® is a condensed tannin extracted from pine bark – and sometimes also from grape seeds. The long chain polymer, which is a part of the oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC) group of tannins, was first isolated and extracted in France by Jacques Masqulier in 1947, who patented the process and gave the compound its name. It is also sometimes sold generically as pine bark extract.
Commercial Pycnogenol® supplements contain a minimum 65% to 75% procyanidins. These compounds are also found in blueberries, citrus fruits and cocoa.
Pycnogenol® has been linked to several positive health benefits; chief among these is improved circulation – which opens up treatment possibilities for high blood pressure, allergies, muscular pain, diabetes, osteoarthritis and even ADHD.
- May prevent and inhibit growth of tumours. This 2016 Chinese study was optimistic about the potential of pine bark extract as an anti-cancer drug and a food supplement to prevent the growth of tumours.
- Helps control Type 2 Diabetes. A 12 week study conducted in 2004 revealed significantly lower blood glucose levels in 77 patients compared with those given a placebo.
- Improves blood circulation. Pycnogenol® has been shown to improve circulation in two ways. Firstly, by strengthening the tissue that lines the lymph and blood vessels, nitric oxide release is increased and blood flow improved1. Secondly, Pycnogenol® may reduce high blood pressure by improving the dilation of blood vessels2. Both factors may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and improve general muscle strength and energy.
- Reduces symptoms of asthma. A long-term 2011 Italian study of patients exhibiting moderate asthma symptoms showed reduced lung inflammation; less dependence on asthma medication, and fewer allergic reactions and night-time awakenings.
- Immune Support. Studies on mice conducted in 2007 showed Pycnogenol® inhibiting the reproduction of viruses, with interesting implications for flu and cold prevention in humans. A follow-up human clinical study in 2014 seems to confirm this, with one group of participants given Pycnogenol® over the winter, compared to another group given a placebo. The Pycnogenol® group reported fewer marker symptoms of the common cold and less work time lost to illness.
How much Pycnogenol® to take depends on your health goals.
For heart health: 200 mg per day
For diabetes: 90-180 mg per day
For long term general health / immune support: 30 – 120mg per day (with higher doses during the winter and when unwell.)
All the studies mentioned in this article indicate the benefits of Pycnogenol® unfolding gradually over the mid to long term. Pycnogenol® isn’t used to treat acute conditions and should not be viewed as a quick fix. Many people incorporating low therapeutic doses of Pycnogenol® into their diet for improved general health report good results. To assist with a chronic condition, such as diabetes or asthma, you should persist for at least 28 days to 12 weeks before expecting tangible results. As always, health supplements should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care. Always consult a doctor if you are concerned about your health.
You can purchase high purity Pycnogenol® supplements from our online store, extracted from sustainably sourced French Maritime Pine bark. Each tablet contains 30 mg of Pycnogenol® , allowing convenient dosage for various conditions. Postage is free on all UK orders over £15.