The benefits of Pycnogenol, which is the patented brand name for the extract of bark from a French maritime pine tree, are thought to be very wide ranging. The bark of this type of pine tree is rich in flavonoids, also called bioflavonoids, which are also found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
The forest that these pine trees are grown in is located on millions of acres in the famous Bordeaux region of southwest France. The trees are cultivated over a thirty-plus year period with no herbicides or pesticides used in the forest.
The primary Pycnogenol benefits include the aggressive attacking of free radicals in the body, boosting the immune system, and strengthening the blood vessel walls and capillaries. These benefits can help reduce stress, improve circulation, soothe menstrual cramps and pains, and reduce the micro bleedings in the retina caused by diabetes (retinopathy), as well as improving eyesight.
Many other related conditions are helped through the benefits of Pycnogenol, according to claims. The long list of conditions which Pycnogenol is purported to treat to some degree includes: Asthma, chronic venous insufficiency, high blood pressure, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs), diabetes, impotence, high cholesterol, male infertility, heart attacks or strokes, leg cramps, and pregnancy pains. It is also said to improve athletic performance.
The laundry list of Pycnogenol benefits is long, but it has been studied fairly extensively. Most of these benefits are related, with the primary help of strengthening vessel walls and improving circulation being the basis of the other claimed benefits.
This extract is one of the most powerful antioxidants available, and is unique in that it counteracts free radicals in two ways: it stimulates cells to double their antioxidative strength and it catches free radicals in the blood stream. It is also the only known antioxidant that is able to cross the blood brain barrier and protect oxygen to the brain and central nervous system.
There are essentially no side effects to using Pycnogenol, and it is one of the most studied supplements available. The rare occasional side effects that have been reported, although seldom, include mild gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
Because of the taste of the extract, it is recommended that it be taken with or after meals. While there have been no reports of problems, it is always recommended that supplements not be used for children under 6 years of age and women in their first three months of pregnancy.
If you're interested in reaping the benefits of pycnogenol, make sure you look for a high quality single or multi ingredient supplement. And always talk to your doctor before beginning any supplementation regimen.