Express Pharma

Pycnogenol in Men’s Health

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Dr Frank Schoenlau, Ph.D. and Scientific Director at Horphag Research writes about how Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract can enhance multiple aspect of health for men

Good physical and cognitive health attributes represent the backbone of a fulfilling lifestyle. Pycnogenol® French maritime pine bark extract, a registered trademark of Horphag Research, represents an interesting natural health ingredient and a category of its own. Pycnogenol®’s evidence-based health benefits are remarkably versatile, as it offers four key properties which work in synergy with our main body functions. Pycnogenol® acts as a potent blend of antioxidants, it is a natural anti-inflammatory, it stimulates generation of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, and it helps with blood vessels elasticity by supporting production of nitric oxide. Over the past 40 years, Pycnogenol® has been the subject of extensive research which has resulted in more than 160 published clinical studies and 450 scientific publications. This impressive body of research shows Pycnogenol® is a safe, powerful and efficacious solution for a variety of health benefits for men’s health.

Blood Circulation and cardiovascular health
Pycnogenol® relaxes constricted arteries by stimulating greater nitric oxide release from the endothelium, the thin layer coating the interior of arteries. The more nitric oxide is released from the endothelium, the more arteries may widen and the more oxygen and nutrients an artery may carry (fig. 1). [Nishioka et al., 2007]. In a double-blinded, cross-over study it was verified that supplementation with Pycnogenol® increased the ability of arteries to relax by 46 per cent. A double-blinded, placebo controlled cross-over study with cardiac patients demonstrated that supplementation with Pycnogenol® increases flow dilated arterial relaxation by 23 per cent (from 5.7 to 7 per cent) [Enseleit et al., 2012].
Through this mode of action, Pycnogenol® supports maintaining a healthy blood pressure, better supplying the tissues with oxygen and nutrients, and helping prevent the risk of blood clots.

Fig. 1 Illustration on how Pycnogenol® relaxes arterial constriction for better blood flow

2.1 Pycnogenol® normalises high blood pressure
In most cases an elevated blood pressure coincides with a compromised endothelial function. The improved endothelial function with Pycnogenol® allows for healthier vasodilatation which in turns aids to normalize elevated blood pressure.

Pycnogenol® was investigated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over- study for patients presenting with borderline hypertension, who were not yet receiving hypotensive medication. Pycnogenol® supplementation over a period of 8 weeks significantly lowered blood systolic blood pressure as compared to placebo and diastolic pressure was found to be lowered as well [Hosseini et al, 2001].

2.2 Pycnogenol® prevents thrombosis
Pycnogenol® was shown to dose-dependently lower platelet activity in individuals typically presenting with increased platelet aggregation: cigarette smokers. Blood was drawn before and 2 hours after administration of a single Pycnogenol® dose. The results clearly showed a dose-dependent reduction of platelet activity. Already the lowest dose of 25 mg Pycnogenol® noticeably lowered the blood platelet activity [Pütter et al., 1999]. Further research revealed that Pycnogenol® inhibits release of thromboxane from platelets of cigarette smokers to levels of healthy non-smokers [Araghi-Niknam et al., 1999].

Pycnogenol® was also tested in a group of 200 individuals at risk for developing thrombosis [Belcaro et al., 2004]. Subjects were remaining in sedentary position for prolonged time during long-haul travel exceeding 8 hours. These conditions are known to cause pooling of venous blood in the legs, involving blood stasis, which contributes to the development of thrombosis. The results showed 5 incidents of transitional thrombosis in total 97 subjects (5.15 per cent) in the placebo group. In contrast, none of the 101 high-risk subjects in the Pycnogenol®-treated group developed thrombosis during the long-haul flight

2.3 Pycnogenol® improves blood lipid profile
Pycnogenol® was found in controlled clinical trials to improve blood lipid profile. A significantly improved blood lipid profile was initially discovered in young healthy subjects [Devaraj et al, 2002]. Supplementation with Pycnogenol® for 6 weeks significantly increased HDL and lowered LDL cholesterol.

Blood triglyceride levels were unaffected. A substantial improvement of blood lipids was discovered in a study with patients treated with Pycnogenol® for venous insufficiency (Koch 2002). These patients presented with serious dyslipidemia, with total cholesterol at 264 mg/dL, LDL at 169 mg/dL and HDL at 46 mg/dL. After taking Pycnogenol® for only four weeks, blood lipids decreased to 212, 147 and 51 mg/dL for total, HDL and LDL cholesterol, respectively. In men with mild hypercholesterolemia supplementation with Pycnogenol® over a period of three months significantly lowered both total cholesterol and LDL by 9.4 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively. HDL increased by 5.5 per cent during this time period [Durackova et al., 2003].
A study with type II diabetic patients found a significant reduction by 12 per cent of LDL cholesterol from baseline 106.4 mg/dL to 93.7 mg/dL after three months treatment with Pycnogenol®. HDL values were not investigated in this trial [Zibadi et al., 2008]. Thus, Pycnogenol® significantly improves the atherosclerotic index and thus contributes to protection from atherogenesis.

Recently, a new double-blind placebo-controlled study showed the efficacy in reducing LDL-cholesterol in men with and without diabetes [Trebaticky et al., 2019].

2.4 Pycnogenol® improves glycemia in diabetes
In diabetes, the excess amounts of glucose remaining unused in the blood stream may impact the vascular system. Pycnogenol® may help normalize blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohy