Pinus pinaster, pinus maritima, pine bark extract
- Indications with possible efficacy:
- Indications with possible, but poorly documented efficacy
Chronic venous insufficiency
High blood pressure
Increase exercise capacity
- Other indications with no proof of efficacy:
Peripheral circulatory problems
To delay aging - as an antioxydant (popular use)
Skin aging - topically (popular use)
- Risk of Drug Interactions: Low
- Adverse Effects: Rare
Part of the plant used: french maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster, synonym Pinus maritima)
Pycnogenol contains bioflavonoids that are thought to have significant antioxidant activity. In fact, this product is considered to be a potent free radical scavenger. Available as a dietary supplement, pycnogenol may enhance circulation, reduce inflammation and protect collagen against natural degradation. In Europe, it is used both orally as a dietary supplement and topically as part of anti-aging creams. In Canada, pycnogenol is available in capsules usualy standardize with 70% proanthocyanidins.
Direction of use
- Chronic venous insufficiency:
Pycnogenol seems to reduce leg pain and heaviness, and edema when used for 3 to 12 weeks.
Used doses: 100 to 120 mg 3 times daily. Lower dose of 45 to 90 mg daily seems to be effective.
- Increase exercise capacity:
Pycnogenol appears to increase treadmill exercise capacity in recreational athletes aged 20 to 35 years.
Used doses: 200 mg daily for 30 days.
- Mild hypertension:
Used doses: 200 mg daily
Pycnogenol seems to slow or prevent deterioration of retinal function in patients with retinopathy caused by diabetes, atherosclerosis or central venous thrombosis.
Used doses: 50 mg 3 times daily
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that pycnogenol is effective in any other indication, including topically.
- Side effects
Pycnogenol is not associated with any specific toxicity. There has been no report of adverse effects except for mild intestinal upset and diziness. Its long-term safety is not established.
Use with caution if you are suffering from an autoimmune disorder.
Before taking pycnogenol, check with your pharmacist to make sure that there are no interactions with your regular medication.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Since there is no safety data available concerning its use during pregnancy and breast-feeding, pregnant and lactating women should not take pycnogenol.
- The product may be extracted from pine bark, although other more practical sources can be used, such as peanut skins and grape seeds.
- Originally, the term pycnogenol was used as a generic term for proanthocyanidines. Now, Pycnogenol is the US registered trademark for a specific extract derived from French Maritime Pine Bark.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
- Facts & Comparisons, The Lawrence review of Natural Products, 1999
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2010
- Passeportsanté.net. Pycnogenol. www.passeportsante.net
- The Review of Natural Products, 6th Edition, 2010
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.