When pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) first appeared on the natural health market, it caused a lot of excitement. But it has been mostly forgotten.
That’s unfortunate because it has a number of incredible health benefits. For example, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 101 patients ages 60 to 85 were given either a placebo or 150 mg of pycnogenol for three months as a possible way to prevent and treat a decline in cognitive function. Researchers tested attention, working memory, episodic memory, and psychomotor performance. They found a significant improvement in working memory (which we use every day) and a dramatic decrease in lipid peroxidation products in those taking pycnogenol supplements.
Vascular diseases affecting the retina are quite common, and can lead to blindness. In another study, researchers tested 40 patients with diabetes, atherosclerosis, or other vascular diseases and found that the 30 they treated with 50 mg of pycnogenol three times a day for two months not only demonstrated no deterioration, but also showed significant improvement in visual acuity. The patients who got a placebo continued to deteriorate.
The researchers also conducted special testing (fluorangiography and electroretinogram) that demonstrated objective improvement in retinal vascularization and function within the treatment group.
Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. The primary damage occurs in microscopic blood vessels in the retina (called diabetic microangiopathy). Another study used older patients with advanced diabetic complications. The subjects were given 50 mg of pycnogenol three times a day for four weeks. After a month, they saw a significant improvement of microangiopathy, with a significant decrease in leakage of the vessels — a major cause of retinal damage and blindness.
In another study, researchers found that pycnogenol supplementation could significantly improve healing of diabetic ulcers, which can be very difficult to mend. The ulcers healed completely in 89 percent of the patients within six weeks. One use of pycnogenol is for treatment of vein problems of the legs that can cause swelling and eventual development of leg ulcers, which are difficult to heal. Patients taking pycnogenol saw reduced swelling of their legs and a significant reduction in venous leakage, which also prevented ulcerations.
Pycnogenol has also been very effective for preventing venous thrombosis in people who fly long distances. Pycnogenol increases nitric oxide production, but only in blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow. (Hesperidin also selectively increases blood vessel nitric oxide.) In addition, pycnogenol lowers elevated blood pressure when taken for 12 weeks.
Another beneficial effect is its ability to lower histamine levels, which reduces allergy symptoms.
Based on its ability to improve blood flow and stimulate blood vessel nitric oxide levels, pycnogenol should also significantly improve erectile dysfunction, even to normal levels, when combined with L-arginine.
In another study, researchers observed a significant improvement in vascular insufficiency-induced leg cramps and pain. The usual dose is 50 mg to 100 mg three times a day.
© 2023 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.