Decades ago, I wrote about how Pycnogenol®, an extract from French maritime pine bark, boosted the effectiveness of vitamin C and other antioxidants. The research on this supplement has come a long way since then and several additional benefits of Pycnogenol have emerged.
Pycnogenol Supports Your Heart
A study from the University of Arizona Medical School and the University of Munster, Germany, demonstrated that Pycnogenol significantly reduces platelet aggregation—the clumping together of blood cells to form blood clots that cut off blood flow and precipitate heart attacks and strokes. A group of smokers, in whom this process is accelerated, were given either 500 mg of aspirin or 100–120 mg of Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol performed as well as aspirin in reducing platelet clumping.
More recent research found that Pycnogenol also helps enhance production of nitric oxide, a molecule made by the endothelial cells lining the arteries that keeps them open and relaxed, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure and circulation.
Improved Asthma Symptoms
Studies suggest that Pycnogenol also improves asthma symptoms and reduces drug requirements, especially in children.
Researchers enrolled 60 kids, ages 6 to 18, with mild-to-moderate asthma in a three-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. They discovered that, compared with those taking placebo, children taking Pycnogenol had significant improvements in pulmonary function and asthma symptoms as well as reductions in leukotrienes, a marker of inflammation. They were also able to discontinue or reduce their use of “rescue inhalers” more frequently.
A previous study showed benefits for adults with asthma as well. The dose used in these studies was 1 mg per pound of body weight in both children and adults, up to 200 mg per day.
Pycnogenol Knocks Out the Common Cold
Italian researchers looked at the effects of various combinations of Pycnogenol, vitamin C, and zinc in adults with colds. The clear winner was the combo of all three. Whereas untreated colds lasted seven days, study participants who took 100 mg of Pycnogenol, 200 mg of vitamin C, and 30 mg of zinc daily in divided doses had resolution after only four days. Better still, symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, sneezing, and cough were significantly reduced.
That’s why I recommend keeping these supplements on hand and taking them at the first sign of symptoms. Adding them to your daily regimen may also help stave off colds.
Protect Your Vision With Pycnogenol
A clinically studied blend of Pycnogenol and a special bilberry extract (called Mirtogenol®) has been shown to provide benefits for vision and eye health. More specifically, because it strengthens the capillaries in the retina, Mirtogenol can help prevent retinopathy. Another study found this supplement can even halt progression of vision loss in people with diabetic retinopathy.
Mirtogenol was also studied in people with slightly elevated intraocular pressures—the hallmark risk factor for glaucoma. In both studies, it was effective at decreasing eye pressures and also increasing ocular blood flow. The dosages used ranged from 20-240 mg daily.
Other Benefits of Pycnogenol
Research has also found that Pycnogenol in combination with L-arginine is an effective natural treatment for erectile dysfunction, and that taking Pycnogenol before, during, and after long flights reduces risk of deep vein thrombosis. Another study discovered that cancer patients who took Pycnogenol during chemotherapy or radiation had less vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and other side effects.