Pycnogenol may be the world’s best-kept secret in the fight against aging.
Even though this supplement has been the subject of more than 300 scientific studies showing its effectiveness, including more than 100 human clinical trials, few people know how to pronounce its name (“pic-noj-en-all”), let alone its wide-ranging benefits.
“Pycnogenol is a multi-faceted nutraceutical because it does so much,” says Steven Lamm, M.D., an internist and faculty member at New York University School of Medicine. “It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And it plays a vital role in preserving and enhancing wellness.”
Pycnogenol is a very strong antioxidant, meaning it counteracts a bodily process much like internal rusting in a machine, which accelerates aging and predisposes us to all manner of deterioration. “We have yet to discover all of its properties,” says Dr. Lamm, “But we do know it functions in the body to reduce inflammation, enhance blood flow, reduce clotting, have a positive effect on your lipids — cholesterol and triglycerides — and blood pressure.”
Studies have also found this: Pycnogenol helps to keep blood sugar stable, which helps to reverse diabetes, and reduces complications of the disease. And, by reducing inflammation and dilating blood vessels, it reduces harmful blood clotting, including swelling in the legs from circulatory disorders. It improves memory, asthma and allergies, arthritis pain, a host of female hormonal issues, blood pressure, varicose veins, and ADHD.
Some studies have tested the supplement on people who were taking medications for heart disease or other conditions, and have found no negative drug interactions. When scientists at the American Botanical Council reviewed nearly 80 human and safety studies, they cautioned only against pregnant women taking Pycnogenol during the first trimester — not because there was evidence of danger but because safety tests on pregnant women have not been done.
The supplement, whose awkward name was coined by a French doctor who discovered it in 1948, is a patented extract of the bark of a pine tree that grows only in coastal regions of southwest France, near the wine region of Bordeaux. It’s available in supplements and in skin care products in health food stores, many drug stores, and some discount superstores such as Costco.
Considering it has proven effective against so many conditions, it is astounding that Pycnogenol has flown under the radar for so many years. This may be due to the fact that it is a proprietary supplement supplied by only one company, Horphag Research.
As a general guide, Dr. Lamm recommends 50-100 mg daily of Pycnogenol. Divide the daily total into two or three doses and always take it with food. Side effects, such as an upset stomach, headaches, or dizziness, are very rare but more likely if Pycnogenol is taken on an empty stomach.
Studies have found these daily amounts to be beneficial for different conditions:
- ADHD, 1 mg per kilogram of body weight (divide weight by 2.2, for example, 100 pounds divided by 2.2 = 45, so 45 mg would be the daily dose for a child weighing 100 pounds)
- Allergies, 100 mg
- Asthma, 1 mg per pound of body weight
- Blood vessel improvement in people with coronary artery disease, 200 mg
- Cholesterol lowering, 120-150 mg
- Chronic venous insufficiency (where blood vessels can’t pump enough blood to the heart), 150-360 mg
- Diabetes, 50-200 mg
- Diabetic retinopathy, 20-160 mg
- Endometriosis, 60 mg
- Erectile dysfunction, 120 mg
- High blood pressure, 100-200 mg
- Memory improvement, 150 mg
- Menstrual cramps, 30-60 mg
- Muscle cramps, 200 mg
- Osteoarthritis, 100-150 mg
- Sperm quality and male fertility, 200 mg
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), 150 mg
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