Tree bark ordinarily is not the first thing we think about when looking for plants and plant extracts best known for providing health benefits, but Pycnogenol® (PYC) is a different story. There’s plenty of health-inducing bite to this bark.
Pycnogenol, a compound comprised of natural chemicals, primarily comes from the bark of a type of European pine tree, per webmd.com. It can also be extracted from a variety of other sources such as peanut skin, grape seed, and witch hazel bark.
What Makes Pycnogenol So Special?
More than 40 years of evidence-based scientific research has shown Pycnogenol’s great capacity to neutralize harmful free radicals that are produced by inflammation. In other words, it is a potent antioxidant. It has been shown to lower inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP), which helps modulate inflammation to the joints.
Its robust power as an antioxidant has been borne out in vitro tests that show the substance, as a free-radical scavenger, is 20 times more powerful than vitamin C and 50 times more potent than vitamin E in terms of effectiveness. Pycnogenol, per National Institutes of Health (NIH), is composed primary of two compounds: procyanidins, which are biopolymers of catechin and epicatechnin subunits that are regarded as key components to human nutrition, and phenolic acids, which are derived from benzoic and cinnamic acids.
Another point in Pycnogenol’s favor, per NIH, is that its low acute and chronic toxicity translate to mild side effects in a small percentage of patients who are administered it orally.
A Summary of Pycnogenol’s Benefits
Here’s a rundown of Pycnogenol’s many benefits, which go beyond being ‘just’ an antioxidant. Be sure to discuss with your physician any planned use for Pycnogenol, especially if you plan to add it to your usual daily supplement regimen for the first time:
- Reduce glucose levels. A study conducted in China with more than 70 diabetes type 2 patients given 100 milligrams of Pycnogenol for 12 weeks produced results showing substantially reduced levels of glucose as well as enhanced endothelial function, per draxe.com.
- Treatment for asthma. A study involving patients with asthma showed lowered symptom scores and circulating leukrotrienes accompanied by an improvement in lung function, per NIH.
- Protect skin from UV exposure. UV refers to ultraviolet radiation emanating form the sun’s rays. A review that was conducted using Pycnogenol shows that it offered protection from the harmful effects of UV rays, indicating its usefulness for reducing hyperpigmentation of human skin and improving the “skin barrier function and extracellular matrix homeostasis,” as described by NIH, per draxe.com.
- Stave off allergies. That’s a good thing to know with spring allergy season about to hit high gear. Per webmd.com, limited research has shown that establishing a Pycnogenol regimen about five weeks out from the anticipated start of the annual allergy battle can possibly reduce the symptoms of allergies, which includes runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes.
- Cardiovascular health. Pycnogenol has given indications that it might be able to benefit heart and artery health, to include reducing high blood pressure. Some studies also suggest it can help guard against coronary artery disease and blood clots, per webmd.com.
- Eye health. Various studies, referenced at uofmhealth.org, have shown that a daily dosage of Pycnogenol has the potential to improve vision and thwart the advancement of retinopathy.
- Venous blood flow. Per uofmhealth.org, a controlled study revealed that daily supplementation enhanced symptoms associated with chronic venous insufficiency (blood flow in the legs) and cut back on related swelling in the legs.
- Reduce inflammation. Turkish studies using subjects who had undergone abdominal surgery showed that a daily ingestion of Pycnogenol for 10 days indicated significant healing compared to those not given any drug or remedy, suggesting it as an effective remedy for healing surgery-related lesions, per draxe.com.