I was introduced to this superfood not too long ago, and the positive results I’ve seen to my overall wellbeing after taking it for some time now, has inspired me to share some information on this gem from the Earth.

Which superfood am I talking about? It’s pine bark extract! Have you heard of it?

On the shelf at the health food store you may see it called: Pycnogenol.

It’s medicinal history goes back to 1934 when a French researcher, named Jacques Masquelier, discovered that pine bark extract improves Vitamin C absorption. In 1534, Jacques Cartier and his team also used it to ward off scurvy given its high content of Vit C.

Since then we’ve learned that, pine bark extract is one of nature’s super antioxidants (much higher than Vitamin C and E!!). Specifically, it contains compounds called: proanthocyanidins. These are all star anti-oxidant compounds that pack a serious punch and help improve your health in multiple ways.

What are these benefits and why should you try pine bark extract? Let me tell you:

1. Reduces Inflammation

One of my most favourite benefits this beauty provides is working to reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation is closely tied to development of chronic disease, reduced immunity (i.e. greater chance of getting sick frequently) and an overall sense of reduced well-being. When inflammation is high in the body, your blood work will show a greater presence of cytokines, or pro-inflammatory cells. Research indicates that pine bark extract is capable of reducing these cytokines, thereby, lowering inflammation in the body.

2. Protects Skin from Sun Damage

I’m a real sun goddess, as many of you already know, so I can’t help but share with you this wonderful benefit of pine bark extract related to the sun. Pycnogenol has been shown to offer protection from harmful UVB rays and may reduce hyperpigmentation and improve skin barrier function. This is great, since getting enough sun is also crucial to increase your vitamin D stores, the sunshine vitamin!

3. Helps Balance Blood Sugar

I need to be careful about my blood sugar. I tend to lean on the side of hypoglycemia and have a history of diabetes in my family. Pine bark extract is beneficial to those, like me, who suffer from blood sugar disorders like diabetes or insulin resistance. A study done of diabetic patients taking their prescriptions, as well as 100mg of pycnogenol, found greater improvement in blood sugar control and cardiovascular health. It may be warranted to talk to your doctor about adding pine bark extract to your health routine if blood sugar fluctuations are a common occurance for you.

4. Supports Brain Function

Researchers believe that the potent antioxidant effects of pine bark extract can also be helpful in reducing oxidative stress that leads to cognitive decline. If you find yourself forgetting things quite easily lately and can’t focus, supplementing with pine bark extract could be helpful to you.

5. Reduces Erectile Dysfunction

As men age, changes with blood flow and other factors may lead to difficulty in this area. Because pine bark extract helps with circulation and blood flow, as well as, reducing inflammation, it can be helpful in decreasing erectile dysfunction as well.

A study done in Japan where male participants took pycnogenol and l-arginine in combination, over 16 weeks, showed increased sperm concentration and improved orgasmic functioning. There were no negative side effects in contrast to its synthetic alternative.

6. Helps with Recovery and Athletic Performance

Given the high amount of antioxidants pycnogenol holds, it has been looked at to improve athletic performance as well. Studies indicate that it provides benefits to endurance performance in trained athletes by increasing the time it takes the body to reach a fatigued state. Athletes have also noted less cramping and muscle pain when using pine bark extract.

The benefits of pine bark extract are some of the most important areas of your overall well-being. In combination with a healthy diet, stress reduction strategies and regular moderate exercise, adding in this natural supplement can be a harmless way of upping your overall well-being. I can say it really has done so for me!

Got more questions? Comment below and ask away!