What is Pycnogenol®? Nature’s super antioxidant

pine-tree

With the launch of our exciting new Beauty & Go Skin Shot, I wanted to tell you all about one of the key ingredients; Pycnogenol®.

Pycnogenol® is real wonder ingredient for skin and general health too. It is a natural extract from the bark of French pine trees, and it’s benefits include maintaining collagen and elastin in the skin as well benefits for the heart, blood vessels and brain to name a few.

Specifically, Pycnogenol® comes from the maritime variety of pine trees, which grow along the Atlantic coast of southwest France. Because these trees grow in a natural forest, there are no herbicides or pesticides involved in their cultivation. The extraction processes used are also gentle and natural, adding no chemicals and resulting in an extremely pure product.

Pycnogenol® contains a unique combination of phytonutrients (plant substances with health benefits), including procyanidins, bioflavanoids and phenolic acids. These substances offer extensive benefits due to powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body. They also stimulate the production of a substance called endothelial nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to dilate. Furthermore, Pycnogenol® helps protect structural proteins collagen and hyaluronic acid, which are essential components of the skin and other connective tissues in the body, such as bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Key Benefits for Skin 

Laboratory studies have found that Pycnogenol® protects key structural proteins in the skin. It binds to both collagen and elastin, and protects them from degradation by free radicals and by blocking the action of enzymes that break them down. In addition, Pycnogenol® stimulates the production of new collagen and hyaluronic acid in the skin. It also improves microcirculation in the skin, so that more oxygen and nutrients can be delivered and waste products are more efficiently removed. These combined actions result in maintaining the elasticity, hydration and overall health of skin, less wrinkles and younger looking skin.

And that is not all! Other reported skin benefits include protection against photo-ageing of the skin, reducing brown spots and scar formation and promoting skin healing.1-2 One study found that Pycnogenol® supplementation for just 8 weeks reduced skin’s sensitivity to UV rays, lowering the participants’ susceptibility to sunburn.3

Other Benefits

Other health benefits associated with Pycnogenol® include blood-thinning effects, blood vessel relaxing effects, strengthening of connective tissues other than skin (bones, tendons, muscles etc.), maintenance of healthy blood pressure, protecting eyes and vision, benefits for brain health and memory, keeping joints healthy, reducing pain and lowering blood sugar levels.

Another interesting study found that Pycnogenol® can help ease the symptoms of jetlag. Travellers took 150mg two days before and five days after travelling and experienced milder symptoms that lasted for less time.4

Pycnogenol® may also be able to help alleviate the symptoms of PMS and menopause. Many symptoms of PMS are believed to be due to inflammation and the natural anti-inflammatory effects of Pycnogenol® can therefore help. One study found an 80% reduction in abdominal discomfort and 77% reduction in cramping. The women in the study were also able to reduce the amount of pain medication they used. Benefits were felt after just one month and increased further after the second month. There is also promising evidence for reduction of menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and benefits for endometriosis sufferers.

References
  1. French Maritime Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®) Effects on Human Skin: Clinical and Molecular Evidence. Grether-Beck S, Marini A, Jaenicke T, Krutmann J Skin Pharmacol Physiol 29: 13-17, 2016
  2. The cosmeceutical Pycnogenol. Schönlau F. J Appl Cosmetol 20: 241-246, 2002
  3. Saliou C, Rimbach G, Moini H, et al. Solar ultraviolet-induced erythema in human skin and nuclear factor-kappa-B-dependent gene expression in keratinocytes are modulated by a French maritime pine bark extract.Free Radic Biol Med2001;30:154-60.
  4. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Steigerwalt RJ, et al. Jet-lag: prevention with Pycnogenol. Preliminary report: evaluation in healthy individuals and in hypertensive patients.Minerva Cardioangiol2008;56(5 Suppl):3-9.