Pycnogenol is the trade name for an extract of the French maritime pine tree (Pinus maritima). A natural source of several antioxidants, Pycnogenol is often marketed as a supplement for heart and circulatory health.
Why Do People Use Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol is typically used to treat the following conditions:
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- chronic venous insufficiency
- erectile dysfunction
- high blood pressure
Some proponents of Pycnogenol also claim that the supplement can aid in the prevention of cancer.
Benefits of Pycnogenol
Studies suggest that pycnogenol may be of some benefit in treating the following conditions:
1) Menstrual Pain
In a 2008 study of 116 women (ages 18 to 48), researchers found that those prone to severe pain during menstruation experienced a significant decrease in pain and required less pain-relieving medication while taking Pycnogenol.
Pycnogenol may be useful as an adjunct therapy in the management of childhood asthma, according to a study published in 2004. After three months of following 60 children with mild-to-moderate asthma, researchers determined that those taking Pycnogenol had significantly more improvement in lung function and asthma symptoms (compared to study members assigned to a placebo).
3) Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Several studies show that Pycnogenol may reduce swelling and pain in people with chronic venous insufficiency, a condition in which the veins do not efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart.
Pycnogenol may help control some cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes, suggests a small study published in 2008. For 12 weeks, 48 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure took either a daily Pycnogenol supplement or a placebo pill. By the study's end, those taking Pycnogenol showed improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels.
A more recent study, published in 2009, shows that Pycnogenol may improve vision in people in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy (a leading cause of blindness among people with diabetes).
Although pycnogenol is generally considered safe, it may interfere with the action of certain drugs used in chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Pycnogenol may also cause irritability and lower energy levels, especially when used in treatment of ADHD.
As with any dietary supplement, you should consult your physician prior to using Pycnogenol to treat any kind of health condition.
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