What is Pycnogenol? 7 Uses for this Versatile Supplement

What-is-PycnogenolPycnogenol is the brand name for an extract from French maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster), a source of powerful antioxidants. It is a potent source of tannins, particularly proanthocyanidins (these account for between 65% and 75% of the extract). Also found in red wine, cocoa beans, cranberries, black currants, and teas, proanthocyanidins can benefit the heart, brain, and more.[1]

What is pycnogenol for? 7 scientifically proven uses

Pycnogenol has a variety of health benefits.

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  1. Protect your brain and improve cognitive function. Pycnogenol has tremendous ability to help improve cognitive performance for all ages.[2-4] In one study, students who took pycnogenol for eight weeks performed better on tests for memory, attention, and executive functions.[2] The elderly benefit too; 150 mg daily for three months led to improved memory and cognitive performance in a group of adults 60 to 85 years old.[3] Pycnogenol may also help protect the brain following traumatic brain injuries.[5]
  1. Improve athletic performance. Pycnogenol can affect exercise performance, likely because it can reduce the oxidative stress occurring during physical activity.[1] In one study, participants taking the Army Physical Fitness Test performed better when they took 100 mg of pycnogenol per day during an eight-week training program. Not only did they have better results on the test than the control group, but they also had fewer cramps and less pain.[6] Read more about how pycnogenol can be used for muscle recovery here.
  1. Reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors. One of the major benefits of pycnogenol is keeping your heart healthy. It can help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and more.[7,8] Pycnogenol is thought to reduce blood pressure because it improves blood flow by stimulating the dilation of blood vessels through nitric oxide.[7]
  1. Control asthma. Because it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities that can help prevent the airway from becoming inflamed, pycnogenol can help reduce symptoms of asthma.[9] In a study on 76 people with asthma, researchers found that 100 mg of pycnogenol daily resulted in significant improvements in symptom control.[10]
  1. Treat the common cold. Pycnogenol (50 mg daily) seems to be able to shorten the duration of the common cold and decrease the need for other products to control symptoms.[11]
  1. Manage psoriasis. People taking 150 mg of pycnogenol per day saw reduced severity, quicker improvement, more skin moisture, and other benefits in their psoriasis compared to the control group.[12]
  1. Help with menopause. Pycnogenol can help reduce symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, loss of libido, and more in perimenopausal women. Read more about the benefits of pycnogenol for menopause here.

How to use pycnogenol

If you have any of the conditions listed above, consider adding pycnogenol to your natural treatment plan. For most conditions, take between 50 to 150 mg per day. Side effects from pycnogenol are minimal at these doses.[1] Before beginning any new supplements, always consult with your doctor.

Share your experience

Have you ever taken pycnogenol? What did you use it for? Share your thoughts on this antioxidant powerhouse in the comments section below.


[1] Antioxidants in Sports and Nutrition. 2015. Chapter 5.

[2] Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep;53(3 Suppl 1):75-82.

[3] J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Jul;22(5):553-62.

[4] J Neurosurg Sci. 2014 Dec;58(4):239-48.

[5] Exp Neurol. 2013 Jan;239:183-91.

[6] J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2013 Dec;53(6):644-54.

[7] Phytother Res. 2015 Jul;29(7):949-68.

[8] Int Angiol. 2015 Feb;34(1):43-52.

[9] Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Dec;62:681-6.

[10] Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep;53(3 Suppl 1):57-64.

[11] Panminerva Med. 2014 Dec;56(4):301-8.

[12] Panminerva Med. 2014 Mar;56(1):41-8.

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