We’re constantly reminded of the healthful benefits associated with antioxidants and regularly advised to increase our intake of foods rich in the free radical fighting compounds, such as fruits and vegetables. Yet, one of the most powerful antioxidant supplements available doesn’t come from apples, oranges, grapes, or broccoli; it’s derived from the bark of a tree. That ingredient is pine bark extract.
What it does
Pine bark extract has been the subject of 400 or more studies and noted to exert a wide spectrum of effects including decreased inflammation, lower cholesterol, reduced blood pressure, increased antioxidant activity, enhanced nitric oxide production, decreased blood glucose levels, and improved endothelial function.
How it works
Pine bark extract is rich in procyanidins, a class of polyphenols also found in dark-colored fruits, such as blueberries and grapes. Procyanidins exert powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities in the body, which limit damage from free radicals and oxidative stress.
The compounds in pine bark extract also help the body maintain and regenerate levels of two extremely powerful antioxidants in vitamin C and vitamin E. Other research indicates that pine bark extract is capable of boosting nitric oxide production, which relaxes blood vessels, improves blood flow, and supports endothelial health.
Finally, pine bark extract may also exert a moderate nootropic effect as it has been found to improve symptoms of ADHD.
Pine bark extract can be found in various standardizations (indicating that quality may greatly vary). Ideally, you want to use a pine bark extract standardized to at least 65-70% procyanidins. The preferred form of pine bark extract is pycnogenol, an extract standardized to 65% procyanidins backed by numerous studies. A typical dose for Pycnogenol is 100-200mg.
- Rohdewald, P. (2015). Update on the clinical pharmacology of pycnogenol ®, (3).
- Liu, X., Wei, J., Tan, F., Zhou, S., Wurthwein, G., & Rohdewald, P. (2004). Antidiabetic effect of Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract in patients with diabetes type II. Life Sciences, 75(21), 2505–2513.
- Rohdewald, P. (2002). A review of the French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol), a herbal medication with a diverse clinical pharmacology. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 40(4), 158–168.