The supplement “Pycnogenol” a French maritime pine bark extract that’s been growing in popularity over the past decade, has many possible uses.
Here, in part three of this article series, we look at the Pycnogenol benefits against osteoarthritis, blood clots, and male infertility.
In a good-quality study, 100 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were treated for three months either with 150 mg of Pycnogenol a day or placebo. Pycnogenol-treated patients reported significant improvement with knee pain, as compared to the placebo group. Moreover, Pycnogenol treatment reduced the use of painkillers.
In a good-quality study, 77 patients with osteoarthritis were treated with 100 mg of Pycnogenol daily and 79 patients were treated with placebo for three months. Pain score in the Pycnogenol-treated group was reduced by 56%, as compared to 9.6% reduction in the placebo group. Pycnogenol treatment reduced the need for painkillers by 58% versus one percent in the placebo-treated group. Pycnogenol reduced foot swelling in 79% of the patients, versus one percent in the placebo group.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, crossover study, 50 patients with erectile dysfunction (ED) were treated with either L-arginine plus Pycnogenol or placebo for a month. Pycnogenol completely normalized function. Moreover, Pycnogenol treatment led to an increase in sperm count and testosterone levels with lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
In another study, 45 men with ED were given 1.7 grams of L-arginine a day during the first month, 40 mg Pycnogenol twice daily during the second month, and the dose increased to three 40-mg Pycnogenol doses daily during the third month. During the first month on L-arginine, only five percent of patients experienced normal erection. However, with the addition of twice-daily Pycnogenol, normal erection increased to 80%, which further increased to 92.5% during the third month on thrice-daily Pycnogenol.
In a third study, 19 men with fertility problems were given 200 mg Pycnogenol daily for 90 days. Pycnogenol treatment resulted in more normal-looking sperm.
Blood clots form as a result of “platelet aggregation,” which is the platelets in the blood clumping together. If a blood clot blocks the normal blood flow, it is known as “thrombosis.” Several studies show how Pycnogenol helps block platelet formation and thus helps prevent thrombosis.
Cigarette smoking increases platelet aggregation. In one study, 200 mg a day of Pycnogenol taken three hours prior to the first cigarette for the day for two months significantly reduced cigarette-induced platelet aggregation.
In 22 German heavy smokers, platelet aggregation was prevented by 500 mg of aspirin or 100 mg Pycnogenol. In 19 smokers, increased platelet aggregation was more significantly reduced by 200 mg than either 10 mg or 100 mg of Pycnogenol. The same study showed that a single, 200-mg Pycnogenol dose remained effective over six days in preventing cigarette-induced enhanced platelet aggregation.
The goal of this study was to evaluate if Pycnogenol could prevent deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and superficial vein thrombosis (SVT) in eight-hour flights in 196 subjects at risk of these conditions. Two doses of 100 mg of Pycnogenol were taken two to three hours before flights and two additional capsules taken six hours later — then one capsule the next day. Placebo capsules were given to control subjects at the same times. In the control group, there were five thrombotic events; whereas the Pycnogenol-treated subjects only experienced nonthrombotic, local flare-ups. In long-haul flights, Pycnogenol could be an effective prevention for blood clots.