by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Have you heard of pycnogenol before? If you’re like most people, probably not, despite it being a major part of the skincare industry for quite some time.
Pycnogenol is an increasingly popular ingredient known for its wide range of uses. It has gained attention, particularly for addressing common skin concerns like dryness and signs of aging. While aging and dry skin are natural processes, they can impact your skin’s appearance and potentially affect your self-confidence.
If you’re contemplating incorporating pycnogenol into your skincare routine, it’s crucial to determine whether it lives up to the hype.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the efficacy of pycnogenol and its benefits to better understand if this is something you want to add to your daily supplement regimen.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen.
What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol, a proprietary brand name, represents the extract obtained from the bark of French maritime pine trees. It serves as a natural supplement and is associated with multiple applications, including managing dry skin and ADHD.
The beneficial active ingredients found in pine bark extract can also be found in alternative sources such as peanut skin, grape seed, and witch hazel bark.
7 Health Benefits of Pycnogenol
Pycnogenol, renowned for its potent antioxidant properties, presents a diverse range of potential health benefits. Extensive research has explored its effects on various aspects, ranging from cognitive function to managing men’s reproductive health.
Below are seven notable health benefits associated with pycnogenol:
1. Full of antioxidants
When individuals are overweight, out of shape, or in poor health, their bodies tend to generate an abundance of free radical compounds. These compounds trigger inflammation throughout the body, damaging DNA, and compromising overall health. Antioxidants play a crucial role in extinguishing these internal fires caused by free radicals.
Research indicates that pycnogenol, a patented formula derived from pine bark extract, possesses the ability to prevent and reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It is also important to establish a diet rich in vegetables and fruits to ensure an ample intake of antioxidants.
2. Supports men’s sexual health
Clinical studies have demonstrated that pine bark extract, specifically pycnogenol, may offer notable benefits for men’s sexual health. One of the ways pycnogenol aids in sexual health is by promoting the activity of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), an enzyme responsible for producing nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide helps relax the arteries and enhance blood flow, which is crucial for optimal sexual function. Interestingly, this mechanism also helps to improve cardiovascular health.
When combined with other ingredients, pycnogenol can be incorporated into a sexual health supplement to support various aspects of male sexual function, addressing multiple areas of concern.
3. It helps people with asthma
Asthma is characterized by lung inflammation, leading to breathing difficulties. One contributing factor to lung inflammation is the release of leukotrienes, chemicals triggered by allergen exposure.
In individuals with asthma, elevated levels of leukotrienes have been observed. Research has indicated that when pycnogenol is used in conjunction with an inhaler, it can effectively reduce leukotriene levels. This reduction in leukotrienes can help alleviate lung inflammation, potentially reducing the frequency of inhaler use and improving overall respiratory function.
4. Supports urinary health
A 2021 clinical study showed that taking pycnogenol for 60 days significantly supported urinary health. Interestingly, pycnogenol was found to be more effective than cranberry extract when taken for the same duration.
Combining pycnogenol with other dietary supplements, like cranberry extract, may further enhance the benefits for urinary health.
5. Reduces premature aging
According to a study, 20 postmenopausal women were to take 75 mg of pycnogenol every day for around 12 weeks. The participants observed improved skin hydration and elasticity by the end of the study. Pycnogenol supplementation was found to decrease the signs of aging.
Pycnogenol may also help in the synthesis of collagen and hyaluronic acid. Decreased collagen levels can lead to wrinkles. According to research, hyaluronic acid can retain skin moisture and aid in delaying aging signs.
6. Helps relieve arthritis symptoms
As individuals age, osteoarthritis, commonly referred to as arthritis, can develop. This condition occurs when the protective cartilage on the joints starts to deteriorate, leading to discomfort and pain, particularly in frequently used areas such as the hands, fingers, and knees.
Pycnogenol has demonstrated the potential to alleviate osteoarthritis-related pain by preventing blood chemicals from attacking and damaging the cartilage.
7. Cognitive support
A clinical study published in 2022 revealed that regular daily supplementation of pycnogenol exhibited positive effects on cognitive function among elderly individuals. The study demonstrated improvements specifically in spatial memory. Notably, pycnogenol was also found to support cognitive function in young adults.
In an eight-week study involving students aged 18-27, pycnogenol significantly enhanced attention, memory, executive function, and mood compared to control groups. These findings highlight the potential cognitive benefits of pycnogenol across different age groups.