In today’s health-conscious society, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are becoming a popular addition to many people’s lifestyles. It seems like almost every other day, another “critical” ingredient is discovered, so it can be difficult to understand what each one does or if they really are necessary for good health. A phytochemical known as Pycnogenol® has been making its way into daily nutraceuticals, supplements, vitamins, and other applications, but what does it do?
What is Pycnogenol?
A compound of natural chemicals, Pycnogenol is made up of polyphenolic procyanidins that serve as antioxidants. This compound can be found in a number of sources, including peanut skins, grape seeds, and witch hazel bark. Most commonly, however, Pycnogenol is derived from French maritime pine bark. After 40+ years of research and 420 scientific publications, Pycnogenol has been shown to have several health benefits.
What Does It Do?
Pycnogenol’s chemical composition makes it a natural anti-inflammatory, and it helps increase the natural dilation of blood vessels and improve blood flow. Protecting cells from damage, Pycnogenol plays a role in improving several different areas of health:
- Respiratory – helps reduce allergies and asthma
- Heart & artery health – lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and protects against coronary artery disease and blood clots
- Cognitive function – improves both numerical and spatial working memory and mental performance
- Athletic performance – aids in the production of nitric oxide, which helps improve circulation and muscle recovery and may help improve endurance
- Skincare – binds with skin proteins and promotes the “glow” and a smooth, even complexion, as well as increase skin’s stability during healing
Pycnogenol & Eye Health
This compound of chemicals can be very beneficial for eye health. Pycnogenol helps inhibit retinal health concerns by binding to collagen and elastic fibers to strengthen capillary walls. It helps inhibit the breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier. Pycnogenol can help improve retinal blood flow, retinal thickening, and visual acuity.
Are There Known Pycnogenol Side Effects?
With the years of research, Pycnogenol seems to be well tolerated by most. However, the common complaints that surround the phytochemical include dizziness, vertigo, and an upset stomach. Because of its effect on the immune system, Pycnogenol could cause issues for those with immune disorders like lupus, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis. While there haven’t been any negative medication interactions that involved Pycnogenol, it’s important to keep an eye on any patients who may be supplementing with the nutrient.
How Can Patients Start Getting Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol can be obtained by brewing a traditional tea from the pine bark. Though this is a “traditional” drink, it is far more likely that patients will take a daily nutraceutical that includes the ingredient. For patients who struggle with blood glucose control and are concerned about their vision, EyePromise® DVS includes Pycnogenol and several other ingredients designed to improve visual acuity and long-term eye health without impacting blood glucose levels.
As research continues, there’s no telling how many more benefits of Pycnogenol may be discovered. From heart health to vision protection, this chemical compound can help address several health concerns. Though these benefits outweigh most of the described side effects, it’s best to closely watch any patient as he/she adds a daily supplement to his/her diet.
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