Pine Bark Extract
From the French maritime pine tree, Pinus pinaster, the extract is pycnogenol. The active phenolic compounds are also present in other plants such as cranberries, blueberries, green and black tea, grape seed extract, sorghum grains, cinnamon and cocoa.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. There are claims for the many benefits that antioxidants have in the body including brain, eye, cardiovascular, blood vessel, glucose control, and chronic inflammation in autoimmune disease.
Different neutraceutical companies are patenting their own version of pine bark extract and conducting studies on the patented version. So while some conclusions may be drawn for one specific extract, these may not always carry over to the various other pine bark extracts. This also means that most research is funded by industry. This doesn’t mean all results are invalid, but something to be aware of when considering the studies that have been selected for publishing and what you are reading. This awareness goes for any study on a commodity that can be sold by the research funders. Pycnogenol is French Pine bark extract and Enzogenol is a New Zealand Pine bark extract.
A 2018 review concluded that treatment with pycnogenol had statistically but not clinically significant improvements in joint stiffness with osteoarthritis.
Although not the most potent anti-inflammatory agent out there, Pycnogenol has shown some efficacy in alleviating symptoms in patients with autoimmune disease. It won’t do much for you if you are in a flare, but it can help mediate chronic inflammation when in remission or non-flare state.
A 2018 industry-funded study has shown that pycnogenol may be effective for relieving dry eye/dry mouth symptoms associated with Sjogren’s syndrome.
There are no reported serious side effects of pine bark extract supplementation, but as it has the potential to lower blood pressure and blood sugar you should consult your doctor before starting supplementation.
Where to find it
Readily available in supplement form online and in health stores as capsules, tablets, and powder and drinks that contain pine bark extract as one of multiple ingredients.