Pinus pinaster, generally referred to as maritime or cluster pine, is a type of pine tree that grows in the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Portugal, France and Morocco. What’s hidden beneath those pokey pines and rough bark contains the ingredients to make pine bark extract, a powerful herbal supplement for your health and wellness.
What Is Pine Bark Extract?
Pine bark extract is a natural herbal supplement rich in healthy polyphenols such as procyanidins, catechins and phenolic acids. These are compounds we get through certain plant-based foods that contain antioxidants and potential health benefits. These plant compounds benefit the body with antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Studies show that pine bark extract can positively impact a wide range of medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular illness, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s no wonder this herbal extract is gaining in popularity.
Pine Bark Extraction Process
The first step in the pine bark extraction process is to grind the pine bark; then the substance is washed and soaked in hot water. The next step is to remove any solids from the liquid extract. The liquid extract can be used at that point, or it can be additionally processed into powder form.
History of Pine Bark Extract
Pine bark extract has a long history behind it, going all the way back to 1534. It was then that a French ship sailed by Jacques Cartier got stuck in ice near Quebec, Canada. Unable to access supplies and food, the crew of the ship became very ill with scurvy, which is a potentially fatal disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. A native Quebec Indian recommended that the crew drink a tea made out of pine bark and pine needles, which seemed to be a miracle cure for what ailed the men.
Many centuries later, during the 1950s, a French researcher named Jacques Masquelier discovered why this tea was so effective. A substance found in pine bark has antioxidant qualities, which increases the effectiveness of the vitamin C present in the needles. He was looking into a group of substances called flavonols, which are substances in fruits and vegetables that give them their color. Masquelier learned that these substances have beneficial effects in the body, particularly in improving circulation and repairing tissue. He later found that a plentiful source of these substances was the bark of pine trees that grew in the Mediterranean.
The Science Behind How Pine Bark Extract Works in Our Body
Studies show that pine bark extract contains a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are volatile atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and aging. As Cartier learned, pine bark extract also increases the effectiveness of vitamin C. There are other benefits to pine bark extract, including lowering cholesterol and decreasing the risk of damage to the arteries.
In addition, it may help to strengthen collagen in the body. Collagen is a protein that strengthens connective tissue, skin and blood vessels. Pine bark extract has also been shown to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Scientists have discovered that the following polyphenol nutrients in pine bark extract have health benefits:
- Phenolic acids are a group of polyphenols that show high antioxidant activity and are commonly found in plant foods.
- Procyanidins are a type of flavonoid that acts as an antioxidant and seems to have medicinal benefits.
- Catechins are another antioxidant from the flavonoid family that protects cells from oxidation and free radical damage.
Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy have discovered that nitric oxide plays an essential role in epigenetics—heritable (versus genetic) alterations in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in DNA sequence.
Bioavailability of Pine Bark Extract
Bioavailability refers to the rate or extent to which a drug or substance is absorbed into the bloodstream. Commercial pine bark extracts are sold in many forms, such as capsules, tablets, liquids, liquid tinctures, and creams. You can purchase pine bark extract under a variety of trade names, including Flavangenol, Oligopin, Pycnogenol, etc.
The beneficial elements in pine bark extract, such as proanthocyanidins and vitamin C, are water-soluble, which means that they break down rapidly in your body and absorb into your system.
The Benefits of Pine Bark Extract on Blood Health and Overall Function
As an inflammation reducer as well as potent antioxidant support, pine bark extract can be an excellent addition to your nutritional arsenal. Here are some of the crucial benefits of pine bark extract:
Improves Blood Flow
Pine bark extract has been shown to provide added support for blood health, especially blood flow. There is also evidence that because of pine bark extract’s ability to improve blood flow, nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the muscles more efficiently, leading to enhanced performance for athletes.
Enhances Athletic Performance
In a clinical trial, researchers found that pine bark extract was effective in improving performance, boosting endurance and reducing muscle soreness because it controlled oxidative stress. Oxidative stress creates an imbalance in the body that hinders its ability to repair muscles. The improved blood flow from the pine bark extract increased the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, which is vital for better performance and faster recovery.
Boosts Antioxidant Status
People who are carrying around extra weight, who have poor health or are highly stressed produce an excess of free radical compounds in their bodies. These compounds trigger inflammation, which can damage DNA and compromise overall health. Pycnogenol, a patented formula of pine bark extract, has been shown to minimize and even prevent the damage these free radicals can cause. It’s also essential to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which lays the foundation for healthy antioxidant intake.
Cytokines are pro-inflammatory molecules that are released into the body when you get sick or experience a fall or an injury; overtraining at the gym can also cause an increase in cytokines. People with chronic health conditions may also develop these proinflammatory molecules. Research shows that pine bark extract might be able to reduce these pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause chronic inflammation.
Possible Side Effects
Pine bark extract is considered to be safe when taken in recommended doses, and studies have shown it to be well tolerated in adults. Although most adults can take pine bark extract without side effects, some people experience dizziness, vertigo, or an upset stomach. Because it may stimulate the immune system, people with immune disorders such as lupus and multiple sclerosis may want to avoid pine bark extract.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their health care provider before taking any herbal supplement. Everyone else who is on any medications should also talk to their doctor to learn about possible drug interactions. Some studies have shown interactions with medicines designed to suppress the immune system, blood thinners, and chemotherapy drugs.
Try Pine Bark Extract for Your Health
Remember that a good diet and regular exercise are foundational for enjoying your best health. However, sometimes the body needs a little added support, and supplemental pine bark extract might be just what your body needs to stay strong and healthy. Contact Plasmaide today for more information about how our supplements can improve your blood health—and your overall health.
Sue Collier is a freelance content marketing writer who covers health care, legal, real estate and other topics. Find out more at her website.
- PR Newswire - Study Shows Pycnogenol® Improves Fitness and Muscle Recovery
- University of California – Berkeley - Pine Bark Extract
- Journal of Ethnopharmacology - “A Review on Biological, Nutraceutical and Clinical Aspects of French Maritime Pine Bark Extract”
- Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences - “Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Effects of Pinus pinaster Bark Extract”
- WebMD - Pycnogenol
- Drugs.com - Maritime Pine
- Encyclopedia of Forest Sciences - “Pinus pinaster”
- Encyclopedia - Jacques Cartier
- Medical News Today - How Do Free Radicals Affect the Body?
- The Journal of Clinical Hypertension - “Nutrition and Nutraceutical Supplements for the Treatment of Hypertension: Part III”
- Science Daily - Nitric Oxide Can Regulate Gene Expression
- Eureka Alert - New Study: Pine Bark Extract Reduces ADHD Symptoms in Children