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What is Pycnogenol and Does it Work?

Question:
What is Pycnogenol and does it work?

Answer:
8Pycnogenol®, a branded form of pine bark extract, is promoted for a number of uses - including improving circulation, cognition, joint pain, vision and symptoms of prostate enlargement -- due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Clinical evidence shows Pycnogenol may be beneficial in a number of different conditions, and appears to be quite safe, although certain people and those taking particular medications should use it with caution. See the full answer >>

Pine bark extract contains flavonoid compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs), which are thought to be responsible for some of its effects. Unfortunately, the current method of testing for these compounds can be easily fooled by the addition of tea catechins. Until a more reliable, validated method is developed, ConsumerLab.com is unable to test and review these products.In the meantime, we hope that the information in the full answer is helpful.


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COMMENTS

JARKKO17200   September 26, 2018
I hope ConsumerLab will test Oligopin(R) products. Pycnogenol(R) products I can already trust as Pycnogenol has been used in numerous clinical studies, but Oligopin is much cheaper than Pycnogenol. Oligopin and Pycnogenol are both made in France and from same plant, but by different French companies.

Oligopin has been also clinically studied, but much less than Pycnogenol.

ConsumerLab.com   September 26, 2018
Hi Jarkko - Thank you for your suggestion. Although we would like to test these products (and have wanted to for several years), there are no specific assays or reference materials for oligomeric proanthocyanidin compounds in these products, preventing us from reviewing them. This is the same problem we face with grape seed extract (https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/what-are-the-benefits-of-grape-seed-extract/grape_seed_extract/) and cranberry (https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/can-cranberry-help-with-utis/cranberry_urinary_infection/).

PALLINE8130   December 3, 2015
My integrative medicine doc uses pine bark extract for kidney patients. I have been taking 100 mg for about a year after being diagnosed with stage 3 kidney disease. My Globular Filtration Rate has increased from 51 to 64, so now I am a stage 2! This is good progress!

I buy it from Vitacost, where if I hit a BOGO I can get 10 months supply for $20.00! 5 months for that price isn't bad either!

Paula6871   July 20, 2015
Does it matter if it's taken with or without food?

ConsumerLab.com   July 21, 2015
Hi Paula - In most studies Pycnogenol was taken with a meal, but it's not clear if this was to improve absorption or to minimize the chance of gastrointestinal upset.

Monika8088   November 19, 2015
I am taking 20mg of xeralto once a day, could I benefit from pine bark

ConsumerLab.com   December 3, 2015
Hi Monika - We are not aware of studies comparing Pycnogenol to Xeralto (a prescription anti-coagulant to prevent deep vein thrombosis) or assessing their combined use. We suggest you consult your physician about this -- and be aware that pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) may increase the risk of bleeding in people taking certain blood-thinning medications (also see the Encyclopedia article https://www.consumerlab.com/tnp.asp?chunkiid=21765 for more information).

Al5844   July 8, 2015
I can submit first-hand anecdotal evidence on the use of Pycnogenol for tinnitus. I've had that condition for at least 15 years. Reading about a study whereby taking 150 mg of Pycnogenol daily for at least 4-6 months reduced symptoms in about 85% of sufferers, I gave it a try. I used Swanson brand briefly for about two weeks than used Healthy Origins brand for the rest of the time. I took 150 mg daily, faithfully from last October 2 until well into May this year. Results: zero, zip, none. No improvement whatsoever. Guess I'm a 15%-er.

I should state the obvious: your mileage may vary. I don't have Meniere's. I do have episodic BPPV. The tinnitus comes and goes from day to day, hour to hour. I've found the best treatment is to just ignore it. I have some hearing loss and that is harder to ignore, but I don't let it control my life. It's amazing what you can do with your mind if you decide to control it rather than letting it control you. If I had applied that Rx back in October, I could have save a bucket full of money because Pycnogenol isn't cheap. Live and learn.

Angela13943   April 22, 2017
It's amazing what you can do with your mind if you decide to control it rather than letting it control you.
Thank you for sharing!

wayne 2756   June 5, 2015
I have heard that Pycnogenol should not used if one has an enlarged prostate is there any recent info regarding this

ConsumerLab.com   June 8, 2015
Hi Wayne - There do not appear to be any studies regarding Pycnogenol use and prostate enlargement. Can you let us know where you read or saw this information?

Ronald5848   July 8, 2015
Hi,

I do not know whether I have reduced the size of my enlarged prostate but within only a couple of weeks of taking stabilised electrolytes of oxygen I now have normal and pain free urination. It also quickly eliminated a persistant and inflamed sore on my leg by applying it externally.


ConsumerLab.com   July 9, 2015
Hi Ron - We have answered a question about a product, CELLFOOD, which includes dissolved oxygen among its ingredients. You can read more about that here: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers//cellfood/

elizabeth554   February 18, 2015
There is some information on the web that it should not be taken for longer than 6 months. I would like to know why but your explanation did not address this.

ConsumerLab.com   February 23, 2015
Hi Elizabeth - This recommendation may have been based on clinical studies using Pycnogenol which lasted for 6 months, although it has been used in clinical studies for up to one year and been well-tolerated. Please see the information we have added about this in the "Safety" section of the Answer.

Glen553   February 18, 2015
Horphag would have you believe all the health benefits from OPC are exclusive to pine bark extract (pycnogenol), however the bulk of research originating out of France from roughly 1950 to 1980 was done with grape seed extract. Cyvex Technologies in Irvine has an excellent source of OPC they label as "BioVin". Horphag is aggressively sponsoring studies to position pycnogenol as superior to GSE but that is simply not the case and GSE is a lot cheaper.


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This CL Answer initially posted on 2/17/2015. Last updated 12/15/2018.
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