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10 Health Benefits of French Maritime Pine Bark

10 Health Benefits of French Maritime Pine Bark

French pine trees add glory to the beautiful and lush forests of southern France.

Not many people know that pine bark is a good source of numerous phytochemicals which are natural compounds occurring in plants to support better health.

The discovery of the effectiveness of French pine bark dates back to 1535. French explorer Jacques Cartier and his sailors struggled with scurvy, a disease caused due to the severe deficiency of Vitamin C. The sailors were able to recover from it by having tea made out of french pine bark-an ancient ancestral wisdom shared by the natives.

More light into the effectiveness of French pine bark was revealed by Cartier, who found that the bark is rich in the most potent phytochemical compounds.

What is French Maritime Pine Bark extract?

It is a nutritional supplement made from the bark of pine trees grown along the coast of southwest France.

Modern-day research has revealed some of the vital phytochemical constituents present in the pine bark that are responsible for its healing properties. This includes flavonoids, procyanidins, and proanthocyanidins.

Is French maritime pine bark extract the same as Pycnogenol?

Pycnogenol is a standardized and patented extract of French maritime pine bark which grows extensively in the southwest of France. 

The quality is prescribed in the United States Pharmacopeia.

This standardized version contains  65-75% procyanidins, a particular class of flavonoids and polyphenols, similar to those found in blueberries, wine, grape, cocoa and citrus fruits.

Let us take a closer look at some of the health benefits of French Maritime pine bark.

Benefits of French maritime pine bark

1. Improves cardiovascular health

Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

Studies have shown that the number of people who are affected by heart disease is on a steady rise worldwide.

The extract of pine bark helps to lower LDL cholesterol which clogs the arteries to create cardiovascular issues. Additionally, it helps in elevating the good HDL cholesterol.

Some researchers are of the opinion that Pycnogenol present in the pine barks is effective in relaxing blood vessels, reducing free radicals and lowering inflammation. This, in turn, has a positive effect on the overall reduction of blood pressure.

In a study conducted on 58 patients, it was suggested that regularly consuming Pycnogenol quantity as low as 100 mg/day may help in improving cardiac health significantly. After periodically consuming for 12 weeks, many participants have reduced the dosage of their potent medications.

2. Helps to control asthma symptoms

Studies have shown that consuming Pycnogenol may help to keep asthma symptoms under control.

Research has shown several valid proof that the regular use of Pycnogenol helped to improve airflow in the lungs and reduced the chances of cough and night awakenings.

A study conducted on 26 asthma patients for four weeks showed a significant improvement in their symptoms.

Another study conducted on 60 children with mild-to-moderate asthma has shown a significant reduction in the use of inhalers.

In another study  that was conducted on 76 patients, Pycnogenol was added to their regularly used inhalers with a daily dosage of 100 mg. After six months, it was noted that more than half of the volunteers had reduced the frequency of usage.

3. Is an Anti-aging supplement?

French pine bark extracts are rich in natural compounds that help to increase the microcirculation in the skin. This helps in achieving a healthy glow and an overall improvement in the appearance of the skin.

Several anti-ageing compounds in the extract help with the production of collagen and elastin, making it wrinkle-free and youthful-looking.

A study conducted on 20 post-menopausal women who took 75 mg of the supplement regularly for 12 weeks showed a significant improvement in the skin elasticity. Along with this, visible signs of ageing such as dark circles and wrinkles were reduced, giving a youthful look to the skin.

4. Help to treat Erectile dysfunction. 

Various studies have shown that Pycnogenol helps to boost sexual performance as it has a direct effect on the blood flow. The extracts of French pine bark are, therefore, used in treating erectile dysfunction in men.

A study conducted on a group of 40 men showed an increased vigour and higher sexual function when a combination of L-arginine and Pycnogenol were supplemented for three months.

In another clinical study, subjects were asked to take supplements of Pycnogenol 60 mg/day, L-arginine 690 mg/day and aspartic acid 552 mg/day for eight weeks. An improvement in hardness of erection and improved sexual function was noticed. 

5. Helps to control menopausal symptoms

Pycnogenol is effective in treating menopause-related symptoms such as irregular body heat, sleep disorder, hot flashes and so on. 

In a study conducted on a group of 35 women who were supplemented with Pycnogenol 100mg/day, it was observed that after eight weeks, their overall health improved along with and improvement or vital parameters.

In another study conducted on a group of 170 women who were given a low dose of Pycnogenol (60 mg/day), the painful menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and mood swings were significantly improved.

6. Controls diabetes

It is estimated that more than 422 million people in the world have diabetes. 

Diabetes has a direct effect on the kidneys, eyes, heart and the brain. If the blood sugar levels are not controlled, the arterial walls get damaged, leading to blockages.

This may eventually lead to severe conditions like stroke or heart attack. Diabetes also has a direct connection to Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study involving 77 people with type 2 diabetes, taking 100mg of pycnogenol/day for 12 weeks showed a significant reduction in the blood sugar levels.

In another trial involving 48 individuals,12 weeks of supplementation of french pine bark extract significantly improved blood sugar levels.

7. Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease developed in people with diabetes as a result of damage to the retinal blood vessels. This can lead to vision impairment and even complete blindness.

Studies have shown that using French pine bark extracts for two months helped to improve the circulation in the eyes. It is also suggested that the compound could help prevent blindness if used at an early stage.

8. Reduces Risk of Cataract

Globally, it is estimated that at least 65.2 million people have vision impairment or blindness due to cataract.

This is one of the most common causes of vision loss in people over the age of 40.

In a research experiment conducted by John R. Trevithick and his colleagues, they found that treating cataract with dietary Pycnogenol showed positive results on eye lenses without any side effects.

9. Boosts the athletic performanceBraden Collum on Unsplash

Research has shown that pine bark extracts help to improve endurance and athletic performance.

Pine bark extracts have been extensively studied for its relationship to exercise performance and oxidative stress in the body.

Studies have shown that athletes who used pine bark extracts took a long time to reach fatigue. Besides, they also experienced less muscle pain and cramping.

10. Improves oral health Nhia Moua on Unsplash

Pycnogenol has a tremendous positive impact on the oral health of a person. It helps to control bad breath and eliminate harmful bacteria from the mouth. 

A controlled study was conducted on eight subjects between the ages of 45 and 55 years old who experienced dry mouth symptoms. The volunteers were supplemented with 150mg of Pycnogenol daily for two weeks.

After the end of 8 weeks study, the participants reported improved dry mouth symptoms with bad breath highly reduced.

In another study, it was shown that using chewing gum with French pine extract regularly for four weeks reduced bad breath and mouth bacteria.

Side effects of French Maritime Pine Bark

French pine bark extract is relatively safe when taken orally or when topically applied as an ointment.

For clinical research studies, doses of up to 300 mg/day have been used for a year without any safety issue.

While most of the research studies don’t indicate any significant side effects, some of the possible side effects include 

  • Fatigue
  • irritability
  • Headache & 
  • Nausea 

Drug interactions

If you are taking blood-thinning medications, it is best to avoid consuming this supplement.

Consuming vitamin C supplements, along with this extract, could raise your blood pressure levels, especially if you are suffering from hypertension.

It is also suggested to avoid this extract if you are on medicine to reduce the blood sugar levels.

For people suffering with any existing medical conditions, it is advisable to consult a certified physician before planning to take the supplement.

Dosage

Pine bark extracts are available in a variety of forms such as tablets, capsules or liquid.

Currently, there is insufficient evidence to determine the exact dosage.

A standard dose of 100-200 mg/day can be consumed without any side effects

That said, it is recommended to check with your doctor to determine the accurate dosage rather than experimenting on yourself.

  • Retinal disease: 50mg, three times a day.
  • Improper blood circulation:50–100mg thrice daily.
  • Allergies:50mg thrice daily.
  • Increase stamina:50–100mg thrice daily.

Bottomline 

When it comes to choosing a supplement to increase the overall health and vitality, nothing works better than French pine bark extract. It has all the essential ingredients to ensure a healthy and happy life, protecting your body from common diseases like diabetes, cardiac issues and enhancing sexual function.

Make sure to consult your health care practitioner and take it in the right dosage to reap maximum benefits.

References

Thomas A. Gaziano, Asaf Bitton,  Shuchi Anand,  Shafika Abrahams-Gessel, and Adrianna Murphy(2 Feb 2010) Growing Epidemic of Coronary Heart Disease in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, Cardiology Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/current-problems-in-cardiology/vol/35/issue/2 [Accessed 8 June 2020]

Ximing Liu, Junping Wei, Fengsen, Tan Sheng ming Zhou, Gudrun Würthwein, Peter Rohdewald( 2 Jan 2004)Pycnogenol, French Maritime Pine Bark Extract, Improves Endothelial Function of Hypertensive Patients, Available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14659974/ [Accessed 8 June 2020]

Saeed Hosseini, S. Pishnamazi, M.H. Sadrzadeh, F. Farid, R. Farid, Ronald R. Watson( 7 July 2004 ) pycnogenol((R)) in the Management of Asthma, Journal of Medicinal Food Available at https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/10966200152744472 [Accessed 8 June 2020]

R Stanislavov, V Nikolova( 30 Nov 2010) Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction with Pycnogenol and L-arginine, Journal of SEX and Marital Therapy, Available at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00926230390155104 [Accessed 8 June 2020]

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