Pine bark, or pycnogenol, is a maritime pine from the southwest of France that also grows in Mediterranean regions. The extract from this pine contains numerous beneficial compounds that have been found to improve health and protect against certain medical conditions. Pine bark extract is removed from these trees in a way that is safe and does not harm them or destroy plant materials.
The healing benefits of pine bark were discovered centuries ago when explorers in France became ill from vitamin C deficiency. Local natives shared pine bark tea with them, which healed many explorers and prompted the further discovery of the additional benefits that pine bark extract had to offer.
It is the phytochemical compounds in pine bark that allow it to replace lost nutrients, reduce inflammation, and improve damaged tissues.
After being discovered to help prevent scurvy, pine bark has since been found to benefit overall health, specifically the improvement of urinary tract health.
The potent antioxidant compounds of pine bark are responsible for fighting oxidative damage, and the free radicals that damage tissues and cause inflammation. With inflammation and oxidative damage being linked to several serious health conditions, the direct effect pine bark has on these is essential to better health.
The antioxidant power of pine bark has been found to be more powerful than that of vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, and alpha-lipoic acid. The benefits you can see from taking pine bark extract include:
♦ Vitamin C regeneration: Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, easy bruising, fatigue, general weakness, and poor wound healing. Pine bark extract helps regenerate vitamin C into its activated form to help prevent and naturally treat vitamin C deficiency.
♦ Improved heart health: Pine bark helps to lower bad cholesterol, which prevents clogged arteries and reduces the risk of heart disease. This extract also reduces inflammation that can cause platelets to clump together, forming dangerous clots.
♦ Reduced risk for cataracts: Pine bark helps to prevent the formation of cataracts, especially when dietary levels of antioxidants are low.
Improved blood pressure: Pine bark has been found to regulate and control blood pressure, which can protect against heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
♦ Improved brain health: By reducing oxidative damage to the brain cells, pine bark extract helps to maintain brain function and prevent memory loss and neurodegeneration.
♦ Reduced arthritis pain: As a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, pine bark can reduce inflammation and joint pain associated with arthritis.
In addition to these overall benefits, pine bark has been specifically linked to improved kidney function, reduced risk for prostate problems, and healthier urinary tract function.
♦ Kidney function: Pine bark has been proven to increase blood circulation to the kidneys, which promotes healthy kidney function. While kidney disease is commonly associated with high blood pressure, pine bark can help to mitigate any danger by regulating blood flow. Chronic hypertension can cause severe kidney damage, and pine bark has been found to correct this.
In addition to this, chronic kidney disease significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. With blood pressure being a modifiable risk factor, pine bark can help restore healthy circulation and pressure levels to avoid serious disease and even death.
♦ Prostate health: Prostate cells are prone to uncontrolled growth as a result of high DHT levels in the blood. This hormone causes the growth of prostate cells, which can result in an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia. Studies found that pine bark not only promotes healthy growth of prostate cells, but it also reduced the proliferation of potentially harmful cells.
♦ Urinary tract health: By supporting kidney function and health, pine bark also promotes healthy urine flow. In maintaining prostate health, and preventing an enlarged prostate, the extract also reduces common urinary tract problems, such as incontinence and trouble emptying the bladder.
Pine bark has also been shown to reduce infertility and erectile dysfunction. After following an 890-day supplementation program of pine bark extract, men who had been diagnosed as infertile showed an increase in healthy sperm and reduced numbers of abnormal sperm. By improving blood circulation through the body, pine bark also reduces erectile dysfunction and can improve sexual dysfunction for males.
Pine bark extract can be taken by capsule or applied topically. Health professionals recommend starting with small doses, and you can increase the dose after you have a clear idea of how your body is going to react to it.
The National Institute of Health advises that adults can take between 50 and 450 milligrams a day, for up to one year. When applied as a skin cream, pine bark can be safely used for a week, and as a skin powder, you can use it for up to six weeks.
Pine bark is considered safe for human use as there have been limited reports of side effects. However, it is recommended to start with the lowest possible dose until you know how your body will react. The possible side effects reported include:
♦ Gastrointestinal issues
♦ Skin irritation
♦ Mouth ulcers
♦ Lower blood sugar levels
Because of the possibility that pine bark can interfere with certain system functions and medications, it is important to consult your doctor before starting or taking pine bark if you:
♦ have an autoimmune condition
♦ have diabetes
♦ have a heart condition
♦ have a bleeding condition
♦ are taking chemotherapy drugs
♦ are taking other herbal supplements
♦ have liver issues
♦ are taking immunosuppressant drugs
Pine bark extract has been used for centuries to reduce inflammation, protect against oxidative damage, and prevent health issues. Recent discoveries have shown it can improve urinary tract health.
The benefits of pine bark for prostate and urinary system health far outweigh the potential side effects. As with all supplements, you need to consult your doctor first to ensure there will be no adverse reactions to any medications or supplements you are already taking.
Within the recommended doses, pine bark extract is a safe and effective way to promote urinary tract health and overall well-being.