Difference Between Pycnogenol and Pine Bark Extract
Apr 19, 2021

Difference between pycnogenol and pine bark extract

Pine bark extract has been used for a variety of chronic conditions that involve inflammation, but larger studies are needed.

Pycnogenol is derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree. Preliminary studies suggest it may improve inflammatory conditions and skin disorders because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but other studies are mixed on whether it benefits cardiovascular health. Large-scale studies are needed to establish the safety and effectiveness of pycnogenol in the treatment of chronic disorders.

Pycnogenol is a trademarked name for pine bark extract, and there is little to no difference between the two in terms of composition or effects. You might use pine bark extract or pycnogenol to help treat a variety of medical conditions, including chronic venous insufficiency, retinopathy or erectile dysfunction. Before you take pycnogenol or pine bark extract, consult your doctor to discuss the proper dosage and potential health risks.

Pycnogenol VS Pine Bark Extract

Pycnogenol VS Pine Bark Extract


French marine pine bark extract is commonly sold under the name pycnogenol. It is used to prevent and treat chronic venous insufficiency, as well as several other medical conditions, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Pycnogenol essentially contains pine bark extract from the Pinus maritima tree. The herbal remedy is sometimes also called French maritime pine bark extract, pygenol or oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC).


Pine bark extract and pycnogenol contain OPCs, also called procyanidolic oligomers (PCOs), which are also found in grape seed extract, reports the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). OPCs appear to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial actions and might act to stimulate your immune system, protect against atherosclerosis and prevent certain types of cancers, according to the Sloan-Kettering. Specifically, the OPCs in pine bark extract and pycnogenol seem to prevent leaking in the blood vessels, and the flavonoids called catechin and taxifolin in the herb stimulate nitric oxide production in the body, which relaxes your blood vessels, explains.

Pycnogenol coronavirus

Pycnogenol coronavirus

Corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is triggered by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV2) and has rapidly developed into a worldwide pandemic. Unlike other SARS viruses, SARS-CoV2 does not solely impact the respiratory system, but additionally leads to inflammation of endothelial cells, microvascular injuries and coagulopathies, thereby affecting multiple organs. Recent reports of patients who were infected with SARS-CoV2 suggest persistent health problems even months after the initial infection. The French maritime pine bark extract PycnogenolⓇ has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, vascular and endothelium-protective effects in over 90 human clinical studies. It is proposed that PycnogenolⓇ may be beneficial in supporting recovery and mitigating symptoms and long-term consequences resulting from a SARS-CoV2 infection in COVID-19 patients.


Both pine bark extract and the product pycnogenol have similar uses, mainly for treating or preventing chronic venous insufficiency, says. They may also help in treating high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, various inflammation-related conditions and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as help in preventing cancer, notes Sloan-Kettering. Pycnogenol and pine bark extract could help treat easy bruising, varicose veins, edema, diabetes and diabetic neuropathy or retinopathy, hemorrhoids, premenstrual syndrome and traveler's thrombosis, according to the UPMC. You might take pine bark extract or pycnogenol to help support weight loss and improve night vision, as well as to treat lupus, menopausal symptoms, periodontal disease, asthma, allergies and liver cirrhosis. No conclusive scientific research supports the use of pycnogenol or pine bark extract to prevent or treat any medical condition, however.

Pycnogenol side effects

Pycnogenol side effects insomnia

Pycnogenol cut jetlag symptoms in half for passengers taking 7- to 9-hour flights,A new study published in the journal of Minerva Cardioangiologica reveals Pycnogenol, pine bark extract from the French maritime pine tree, reduces jetlag in passengers by nearly 50 percent. The two-part study, consisting of a brain CT scan and a scoring system, showed Pycnogenol lowered symptoms of jetlag such as fatigue, headaches, insomnia and brain edema (swelling) in both healthy individuals and hypertensive patients. Passengers also experienced minimal lower leg edema, a common condition associated with long flights.

Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France and is found to contain a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids, which offer extensive natural health benefits. The extract has been widely studied for the past 35 years and has more than 220 published studies and review articles ensuring safety and efficacy as an ingredient. Today, Pycnogenol is available in more than 600 dietary supplements, multi-vitamins and health products worldwide.


You might take a dosage of pine bark extract or pycnogenol that provides 150 to 300 mg of OPCs per day, advises UPMC. Pine bark extract typically comes in the forms of liquids, tablets or capsules containing 85 to 90 percent OPCs or proanthocyanidins, or in the forms of creams, lotions or ointments containing 0.5 to 2 percent pine bark extract. To help treat chronic venous insufficiency, the typical dosage of pine bark extract is 45 to 360 mg daily, taken in three separate doses. Follow the dosage instructions on the label for pycnogenol. Ask your doctor about the dosage that's right for you before taking either pine bark extract or pycnogenol, however.


Pine bark extract and pycnogenol can cause fatigue and irritability in people with ADHD, and they may also interact negatively with chemotherapy drugs and immunosuppressants like cyclosporine, warns the Sloan-Kettering. You should also avoid taking pine bark extract while taking blood-thinners like Coumadin, due to increased bleeding risks. Pycnogenol and pine bark extract may cause side effects like upset stomach and nausea. Also, if you have hypertension, taking OPCs along with a vitamin C supplement could increase your blood pressure.

Pine Bark Extract Bulk

What is the best time to take pine bark extract and l-arginine?

Pycnogenol is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in doses of 50 mg to 450 mg daily for up to one year, and when applied to the skin as a cream for up to 7 days or as a powder for up to 6 weeks. Pycnogenol can cause dizziness, gut problems, headache, and mouth ulcers.

Currently, there’s little evidence to suggest that pine bark has any significant downsides or side effects in the general population (2Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 81Trusted Source).

Pine Bark Extract Side Effects

Further, it's been tolerated well by most patients in clinical trials.So, pine bark is considered safe when used in recommended amounts.

Still, some people may have sensitivities to pine bark, and certain populations — including older adults, pregnant and breastfeeding people, and those who are immunosuppressed.

Because not enough research has been done supporting its safety in these groups, the use of pine bark extract should be avoided.

What's more, some medications for blood clotting, diabetes, and immunosuppressants may interact with pine bark. Always check with your healthcare provider if you’re considering this supplement, especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications.

Pycnogenol for skin

1. Human Skin Easily Absorbs Pycnogenol

Pycnogenol was tested for the ability to be absorbed by human skin [Sarikaki et al, 2004]. A Pycnogenol solution was applied to a viable human skin patch and molecules penetrating the skin were identified. Smaller constituents such as phenolic acids were identifiable already 30 min after application. Many constituents, including catechin, showed the highest concentration after 4 hours. Many constituents of Pycnogenol were measurable in significant quantities even 12 hours after application.

2. Pycnogenol Helps Prevent UV Damage and Photo-Aging

Exposure of the skin to UV-light generates reactive oxygen radicals and triggers pro-inflammatory processes which may cause sunburn. Pycnogenol was shown in pre-clinical studies to effectively counteract sunburns [Sime at al., 2004]. The skin thickness was evaluated after exposure of the skin to UV-light for three consecutive days, which serves as a measure for the skin sunburn reaction. As compared to baseline, the UV exposure almost doubled the skin thickness, reflecting a significant reaction of the skin to the UV radiation. Application of serums containing Pycnogenol to the skin immediately after each UV-exposure dose-dependently reduced edema. A concentration as low as 0.05% Pycnogenol significantly inhibited the inflammatory sunburn reaction. Pycnogenol was applied to the skin after UV-exposure because the procyanidins in Pycnogenol absorb UV light. Application to the skin subsequent to UV-exposures ensures that exclusively the anti-inflammatory properties of Pycnogenol are active.

3. Pycnogenol is a Potent Antioxidant

Pycnogenol was demonstrated to be a very potent antioxidant with the ability to neutralize every naturally occurring oxygen radical species [Rohdewald 2002]. Pycnogenol® can recycle oxidized (spent) vitamin C to restore its activity. This supports the availability of vitamin C as co-factor for the enzymatic activity of prolyl hydroxylase, which synthesizes functional collagen and elastin.

Pycnogenol Benefits

Pycnogenol is used for treating circulation problems, allergies, asthma, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure, muscle soreness, pain, osteoarthritis, diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a disease of the female reproductive system called endometriosis, menopausal symptoms, painful menstrual periods, erectile dysfunction (ED), and an eye disease called retinopathy.

Allergies. Some research shows that taking pycnogenol before allergy season begins might reduce allergy symptoms in people with birch allergies.

Asthma. Taking pycnogenol daily, along with asthma medications, seems to decrease asthma symptoms and the need for rescue inhalers in children and adults with asthma.

Athletic performance. Young people (age 20-35 years) seem to be able to exercise on a treadmill for a longer time after taking pycnogenol daily for about a month.

Circulation problems. Taking pycnogenol by mouth seems to reduce leg pain and heaviness, as well as fluid retention, in people with circulation problems. Some people use horse chestnut seed extract to treat this condition, but using pycnogenol alone appears to be more effective.

Mental function. Research suggests that taking pycnogenol improves mental function and memory in both young adults and the elderly.

Disease of the retina in the eye. Taking pycnogenol daily for 2 months seems to slow or prevent further worsening of retinal disease caused by diabetes, atherosclerosis, or other diseases. It also seems to improve eyesight.

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