Pine Bark Extract: Benefits ED, Hearing Loss and More
It’s always a major plus when you opt for a natural supplement that not only is generally much safer than pharmaceutical drugs and effectively treats the condition you are wanting to treat but that also treats multiple symptoms at once, making it a much more desirable supplement to take. Another great perk is that taking a supplement like this is more cost-effective so that instead of buying multiple supplements, your only buying one in order to get multiple health benefits. Lastly, you don’t have to worry about remembering to take a big list of supplements. What’s not to love about all of these perks?
Therefore, this article will focus on one such supplement that gives men multiple benefits all wrapped into one. This natural remedy is called Pine bark extract.
What is Pine Bark Extract?
Pine bark extract, or pycnogenol, is a mixture of more than 40 plant chemicals called procyanidins that come together to form a powerful antioxidant and flavonoid blend. Pine bark extract is derived from the bark of the evergreen pinus maritima tree that is native to southwestern France. This origin is therefore responsible for a well-known name given the product, which is called French maritime Pine bark extract.
Pine bark extract is backed by over 40 years of research and has many proven benefits:
What Are The Benefits Of Pine Bark Extract?
Pine bark extract is extremely high in antioxidants, its potency being stronger than that of vitamins C and E. Therefore, because of these oligomeric proanthocyanidin compounds (OPC’s), pine bark extract can treat various inflammatory and dysfunctional conditions within the body. These conditions include osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, muscle soreness, and poor blood circulation. This powerful extract even helps with athletic stamina, hearing loss, and skin protection.
Additionally, Pine bark extract fights bacteria, viruses, carcinogens, aging, and allergies. A 2000 study done by the International Clinical Research Center states that “OPCs may be a useful component in the treatment of a number of conditions.” Details on these benefits are discussed below:
In regards to pine bark extract fighting bacterial infections, a 2016 study done by Department of Pharmacognosy and Isfahan Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, found that OPC’s killed most of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. They stated that pine bark extract had “significant anti-pseudomonas activity” reducing the time of the infection with quicker healing time as well as cutting down on the severity of the infection. The study concluded with high hopes, stating that a new way of fighting many common bacterial infections had made itself known.
Chronic inflammation takes place in the body for two reasons, and many times it is a combination of the two:
One reason is due to the toxicity and damage created by foreign invaders that negatively impact the body when consistently taken into the body. Over time, toxic substances like unhealthy foods or synthetic chemicals build up in the body producing chronic inflammation.
The second reason is physical stress to the body. Continual stressful conditions or circumstances in our lives cause mental and emotional stress (raised cortisol levels) which in turn, causes physical stress symptoms to develop. This results in inflammation. Additionally, constant strenuous physical activity over time can cause extreme bodily stress resulting in inflammation.
The OPC’s in Pine bark extract help to lower inflammation by the strength of their antioxidant activity. How do antioxidants do this? Antioxidants lower the amount of oxidative stress in the body by getting rid of free radicals. Too many free radicals contribute highly to the inflammation condition.
In reducing inflammation, it is important to keep in mind that you can more successfully and quickly eliminate this condition by cutting down on the causes of bodily stress while your taking pine bark extract.
Lowers glucose levels
Like many disease disorders of the body, the development of diabetes is chronic inflammation related. So it makes sense then that pine bark extract would improve chronic high blood sugar or diabetes.
A 2004 study done by the Guang An Men Hospital of Chinese Medical Science Research Institute revealed that after 12 weeks of giving diabetic type two patients pycnogenol, blood glucose levels were greatly improved as well as endothelial functioning.
Protects the skin from UV light
It turns out that pine bark extract improves the skin’s ability to protect itself from harmful UV light. In fact, it actually has multiple skin benefits. A 2016 study done by the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine confirms this in their resulting statement:
“Pycnogenol intake does not only provide photoprotection but may be used to reduce hyperpigmentation of human skin and improve skin barrier function and extracellular matrix homeostasis.”
This is great news, not only because it means that a person can still get their vitamin D while remaining protected from the sun’s damaging rays, but also because people with hyperpigmentation can effectively treat their condition using pine bark extract.
Prevents hearing loss
Pine bark extract’s OPC’s are so potent that they can potentially reverse chemical toxicity that results in hearing loss. A 2009 study states: “numerous studies have reported on the protective effects of various antioxidants on cisplatin-induced hearing loss.” It seems that the pine bark extract antioxidants offset and minimize the damage done by this harsh chemical.
Improves athletic performance
Research indicates that pine bark extract not only improves athletic endurance but that it also improves muscle pain and cramping. In regards to improving sports stamina, these research results show that the pine bark extract OPC’s are able to increase NAD+ levels, which is a compound that helps restore youth and slow aging. This, in turn, can aid in a stronger athletic performance.
Improves blood flow
As people age, blood flow slows because of various factors: chronic stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, taking drugs, and certain diseases or dysfunctional conditions of the body. Because of these contributing factors, the arteries endothelium layer, which is a thin tissue lining the blood vessels that regulates blood flow, is compromised resulting in restricted blood vessels.
What pine bark extract does is help the body produce nitrogen which then, with the help of L-arginine and oxygen, produce nitric oxide which results in dilated or expanded blood vessels. Consequently, more blood is allowed through resulting in a healthier blood flow. The 2004 Guang An Men Hospital of Chinese Medical Science Research Institute study mentioned earlier adds major credence to this claimed benefit.
Pine Bark Extract For Erectile Dysfunction
As a result of the above-stated fact that pine bark extract increases nitric oxide in the body resulting in increased blood flow through the arteries, this means that body parts get more blood flow to them, which can help people with erectile dysfunction. But how does this happen for the penis? These facts are heavily backed by science :
The penis muscles are normally in a contracted state which allows it to be flaccid most of the time. What nitric oxide does, after being amply provided by pine bark extract interactions, is instruct the muscles surrounding the blood vessels in the penis to relax. This, in turn, makes it easy for blood to flow into the penis, resulting in a solid erection.
A 2003 study done by the Institute of Medical Chemistry, Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry, and the Comenius Universit found that giving 21 men 120 milligrams of pycnogenol every day for three months drastically improved erectile dysfunction.
A 2007 study done by the Department of Cardiovascular Physiology and Medicine at the Hiroshima University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences revealed that giving 58 healthy young men 180 milligrams of Pycnogenol daily for two weeks greatly improved nitric oxide levels, and thus erectile dysfunction.
How much pine bark extract should I use for erectile dysfunction?
Based on the studies presented, daily dosages of 100-180 milligrams of pine bark extract seem to do the trick. Before trying pine bark extract, talk with your doctor about a proper dosage that will fit your needs. Most likely the dosage strength will depend on the severity of the dysfunction. Higher dosages of up to 600 milligrams daily may be advised for severe cases of erectile dysfunction. Higher dosages must be discussed with a doctor before self-administration.
However, it is also great to keep in mind that, although individually effective in aiding in stronger erectile functioning, pine bark extract works even better when taken with L-arginine.
Pine bark extract and L-arginine can treat erectile dysfunction
The reason these two supplements work so well together is that L-arginine strengthens how well pine bark extract works. L-arginine provides the fuel by which nitric oxide is made. When there is more L-arginine, there is a more nitric oxide in the blood. In conjunction with L-arginine helping to make more Nitric oxide, pine bark extract also helps to produce this necessary compound. It also helps to prolong the life of nitric oxide. Therefore, when L-arginine and pine bark extract are put together, it produces an extremely potent mixture that can more readily provide healthy erections.
A 2003 Seminological Laboratory SBALAG study scrutinized 40 ED-prone men given both L-arginine and pycnogenol over three months, with pycnogenol being increased in the third month. The results revealed that the third month produced the best results with 92.5 percent of the men experiencing normal erections.
Pine Bark Extract vs. Pycnogenol – Is There A Difference?
Pycnogenol is the patented name for pine bark extract. It is extracted from the famous bark extract and usually contains around 65-75 percent procyanidins. Even though one is a name brand and the other a generic name for the extract, both names have the same active ingredients. Therefore, the benefits remain the same for both.
However, it is important to keep in mind that generic brands are allowed to have inactive ingredients contained within the product which may dilute the strength, thus possibly affecting the expected results. Additionally, some of these ingredients are even harmful to one’s health.
Does Pine Bark Extract Produce Any Side Effects?
Although pine bark extract has many wonderful benefits for many thousands of people, there is, as with any natural supplement, the potential for adverse effects. Some of these rare side effects include dizziness, fatigue, stomach issues, nausea, and headache.
Additionally, if you have any of the following conditions, tendencies, or take immunosuppressants, you should also avoid pine bark extract:
It can increase symptoms of autoimmune diseases
For most people without autoimmune diseases, taking pine bark extract will only improve their ailments because of its ability to boost the immune system. However, if a person has an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or Lupus), boosting the immune system may cause their condition to worsen since the immune system in their case attacks their body.
It aggravates some bleeding conditions
Pine bark thins the blood. Therefore, it is best if you have a bleeding condition of any kind to not take pine bark extract as it could potentially make the condition worse.
It might slow blood clotting
Pine bark extract acts like aspirin. Therefore it is a good alternative if you are looking for a natural substitute to replace aspirin’s job in giving pain relief and thinning the blood. A 1999 study discovered that pycnogenol worked just as well, if not better than aspirin.
However, also know that if you get a cut or any type of wound that draws blood, the clotting process needed to stop the bleeding may be slowed.
It may interact with immunosuppressants
Immunosuppressants depress the immune system. Therefore, if your a person that has a condition requiring you to take an immunosuppressant , pine bark extract is not a supplement you want to take due to its immune boosting qualities.
Is Pine bBark Extract Right For You?
If you are someone who struggles with any kind of chronic infection, inflammation, high glucose levels, hyperpigmentation (or sunburn easily), hearing loss due to the chemical cisplatin, low energy causing poor athletic performance, poor blood flow, or erectile dysfunction, and you desire to utilize a natural alternative to to improve these conditions and your health in general, then you might want to consider trying pine bark extract. Talk with your doctor today about pine bark extract to see if it’s right for you.