Pycnogenol is an extract from pine bark. Research published in the journal Hypertension Research (October 2007, Vol 30; pp. 775-780) looked at its effect on cardiovascular health. Sixteen young, healthy men were given either a placebo or 180 mg of Pycnogenol each day for two weeks. The research was designed to see the effect the Pycnogenol had on nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has an effect on the cells lining the surface of blood vessels, causing them to relax.
The amino acid, L-arginine is involved with nitric acid production. The subjects of the study were injected with a substance to inhibit L-arginine, causing a constriction of the arteries. This was done to both the placebo group and the group receiving the Pycnogenol. After two weeks, the relaxation of the arteries was 42% greater in the group receiving the Pycnogenol.
Pycnogenol is also a powerful antioxidant. Research appearing in Nutrition Research (Nov 2007, Vol 27, Issue 11, pp 692-697) looked at the effect pycnogenol has on arthritis. It was a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 37 patients. Subjects received either 150 mg of pycnogenol or a placebo each day. After 60 and 90 days of supplementation, those receiving the pycnogenol had an improvement in physical function averaging 52%, according to the Wesern Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthirits Index (WOMAC). Pain was reduced by 43% and stiffness was reduced by 35% in the group receiving the supplement. There was also a reduction in the amount of pain medication taken by the pycnogenol group.