What is Pycnogenol®?

Proven efficacy and safety Pycnogenol® is the registered trademark of Horphag Research (UK) for a standardised extract of bark of the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait). It is certified to be manufactured in accordance to Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines (GMP). The French maritime pine tree used for production of Pycnogenol grows in the South Western part of France, representing Europe’s largest forest. This maintained monoculture is not treated with fertilisers or pesticides. It represents an ideal botanical source as the extracted components are not subject to seasonal variations like in most other plants.

Constituents of Pycnogenol® belong to the group of flavonoids or polyphenols. Pycnogenol® is standardized to contain 70% (±5%) procyanidins, oligomers of catechin and epicatechin subunits, in accordance with the United States Pharmacopoeia. Further to the procyanidins Pycnogenol® bears catechin, taxifolin and a range of phenolic acids [Rohdewald, 2002]. All of these constituents occur in fruits and vegetables and thus are not foreign to the human body.

What are the mechanisms of action of Pycnogenol®?

Pynogenol: nature, science, evidenceSuper-strength antioxidant

Pycnogenol was demonstrated in various in vitro systems to exhibit superior antioxidant activity. The increased antioxidant capacity with Pycnogenol was demonstrated in humans, showing an increase of blood ORAC levels by 40% [Devaraj et al., 2002]. Moreover, Pycnogenol can recycle oxidised (spent) vitamin C to the bioactive form, and protects vitamin E from oxidation, thus prolonging the activity of these vitamins [Cossins et al. 1998].

Binds to collagen: strengthens capilary walls, improves skin elasticity

Pycnogenol® possesses a physical affinity to collagen and elastin, which is suggested to result from interaction with the amino acid hydroxyproline, which occurs exclusively in these connective tissues [Grimm et al., 2004]. Consumption of Pycnogenol was demonstrated to speed-up the healing of wounds in humans, pointing to the possibility that Pycnogenol® could accelerate collagen matrix remodelling [Belcaro et al, 2006]. Pycnogenol® represents an interesting cosmeceutical for significantly improving skin firmness and elasticity as shown in a clinical trial with 62 women [Segger et al., 2004].

Enhances the production of nitric oxide (NO): vasodilation, inhibition of platelet aggregation

Pycnogenol supports healthy cardiovascular function by acting on an important enzyme present in cells of capillary walls, which produces the important vascular mediator nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide plays such an essential role for cardiovascular health that Dr. Louis Ignarro and his co-workers received the Nobel Prize for its discovery in 1987. NO lets blood vessels relax, leaving more space for the blood to flow, resulting in improved blood circulation. In healthy volunteers, Pycnogenol consumption significantly augmented vaso-dilatation [Nishioka et al., 2007]. Studies have shown that Pycnogenol decreases muscle cramps in sports people [Vinciguerra et al., 2006]. The increased NO production with Pycnogenol helps to normalise blood pressure as shown in a series of clinical studies [Hosseini et al., 2001; Zibadi etal., 2008]. Nitric oxide further acts on blood platelets, making them less "sticky" and less likely to clog a blood vessel. Pycnogenol was also demonstrated to prevent thrombosis in 200 flight passengers travelling between the USA and Europe [Belcaro et al., 2004].

Lowers blood sugar

Pycnogenol is a very potent inhibitor of α-glucosidase, the enzyme which liberates glucose from starch [Schäfer et al., 2007]. Several studies have shown that supplementation with Pycnogenol significantly lowers blood sugar, also when taken in addition to anti-diabetic medications (metformin, sulfonylurea, "glitazones") [Liu et al., 2004a, Liu et al., 2004b, Zibadi et al., 2008].

Inhibits the generation of inflammatory enzymes: acts as a natural anti-inflammatory

Pycnogenol was demonstrated in human pharmacologic studies to inhibit the pro-inflammatory transcription factor NF-κB [Grimm et al., 2006]. In consequence, humans leukocytes generate less matrix matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), 5-lipoxygenase, and cyclooxygenase type 2 (COX-2) [Canali et al., 2009]. It is interesting to note that Pycnogenol inhibits the expression of the COX-2 enzyme during inflammation; it does not affect the activity of the COX-2 enzyme.

The benefit of Pycnogenol's anti-inflammatory potency has been subjec t of three clinical studies on osteoarthritis [Farid et al., 2007; Cisar et al., 2008; Belcaro et al., 2008a]. All three studies found a gradual decrease of joint pain and increased joint flexibility with time of supplementation with Pycnogenol. A further study showed that Pycnogenol inhibits the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) in people with more advanced cases of osteoarthritis [Belcaro et al., 2008b]. Several joint health products are marketed with Pycnogenol as anti-inflammatory component in combination with joint cartilage restoration constituents such as glucosamine or hyaluronic acid.

The anti-inflammatory study was found in a series of gynaecologic studies to soothe pain during menstruation [Kohama et al., 1999; Kohama et al., 2004]. A multi-center study demonstrated that women required less NSAIDs during their period [Suzuki et al., 2008]. Another study showed significant pain reduction for women suffering from endometriosis [Kohama et al., 2007].

Who may benefit from taking Pycnogenol?

Pycnogenol: look, feel, and live better Pycnogenol® has a protective role in a range of states/malfunctions/diseases:

  • asthma : improved breathing capacity as well as a significant reduction in concentrations of the leukotrienes responsible for inflammatory conditions
  • disseminated erythematous lupus : significant decrease in levels of auto-immune antibodies and reduction in over-reaction of immune cells
  • diabetic retinopathy : five studies involving more than 1000 patients showed that Pycnogenol® repaired permeable capillaries. Progressive deterioration of vision ceased and in some cases, visual acuity improved.
  • hyperlipidemia: 20% decrease in LDL cholesterol and 15% increase in HDL after 3 months’ daily supplementation with 120mg Pycnogenol®
  • hyperpigmentation: in a clinical trial of 30 women with this condition, Pycnogenol® supplementation at 75mg/day significantly lightened their excess skin pigmentation
  • hypertension : systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced by Pycnogenol® supplementation
  • menstrual pain : women suffering very painful periods were given 30-60mg Pycnogenol® a day for a month, starting 1 week before their period. The majority experienced a significant reduction in cramps.
  • circulation problems : pycnogenol® increases production of nitric oxide and inhibits constriction of the arteries induced by stress hormones. Pycnogenol® improves circulation in elderly individuals. It inhibits superoxide radical in blood flow, helping to maintain a healthy circulatory system, and protects blood vessel walls. The most significant improvements are in peripheral microcirculation (hands, feet, legs and eyes).
  • risk of myocardial infarct and heart attack : Pycnogenol® normalizes platelet activity which is responsible for the development of blood clots following vascular damage, but unlike aspirin, does not affect coagulation in wounds.
  • sports endurance : intense physical activity increases free radical production in the body by 10-20%. Pycnogenol® counters these harmful effects and improves circulation, encouraging an optimal supply of nutrients and oxygen, and helping the body achieve continuous optimal performance. Athletes receiving pycnogenol® showed a 21% improvement in endurance in a controlled treadmill test.
  • internal cosmetic and skin ageing : the constituents of Pycnogenol® have a particular affinity for collagen and elastin which help prevent their destruction by lytic enzymes and free radicals and maintain smooth, firm skin. Pycnogenol® supplementation protects against sunburn: when 21 healthy volunteers were supplemented with Pycnogenol®, it took double the strength of UV radiation before erythema (redness) appeared.
  • Veinous insufficiency : 15 clinical studies involving over 500 patients showed that Pycnogenol® reduces oedema, pain and other symptoms associated with vein problems. These studies were conducted with doses ranging from 30 to 360 mg a day: the highest doses were, in some cases, effective after just five days’ treatment and lower doses were used over several months. It is therefore recommended to take a higher dose at the start of treatment, reducing the dose once the problem has eased


What makes Pycnogenol® special?

Standard Quality

  • a single standard extract from a single source made by a single manufacturer
  • no geographical or seasonal variations
  • Good Manufacturing practice (GMP)

Unique Blend

  • nowhere else in nature are Pycnogenol's specific procyanidins and unique blend of bioflavonoid nutrients found


  • 40 years of intensive research, approx. 100 clinical trials, approx. 250 scientific publications


  • more than 700 Pycnogenol-based products in more than 100 countries worldwide


What makes Flavogard (Pycnogenol, Siema Vital) special?

  • the first of a kind in Hungary: Flavogard is the first product manufactured in Hungary containing Pycnogenol as its active ingredient
  • natural ingredients only: no added sugar, salt, starch, lactose, gluten, yeasts, synthetic flavours, artificial colours or preservatives; no ingredients of animal origin (suitable for vegetarians).
  • purity: manufactured in a pharmaceutical facility


  • Belcaro G et al. Prevention of venous thrombosis and thrombophlebitis in long-haul flights with Pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 10: 373-377, 2004.
  • Belcaro G et al. Diabetic ulcers: Microcirculatory improvement and faster healing with Pycnogenol®. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 12: 318-323, 2006. 
  • Belcaro G, et al. Treatment of Osteoarthritis with Pycnogenol. The SVOS (San Valentino Osteo-Arthrosis Study). Evaluation of Signs, Symptoms, Physical Performance and Vascular Aspects. Phytother Res 22:518-523, 2008a.
  • Belcaro G, et al. Variations in C-reactive protein, plasma free radicals and fibrinogen values in patients with osteoarthritis treated with Pycnogenol®. Redox Report 13: 271-276, 2008b.
  • Canali R, et al. The anti-inflammatory pharmacology of Pycnogenol in humans involves COX-2 and 5-LOX mRNA expression in leukocytes. Int Immunopharmacol 9: 1145-1149, 2009.
  • Cisar P et al. Effect of pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) on symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Phytother Res 22: 1087-1092, 2008.
  • Chovanová Z et al. Effect of polyphenolic extract, Pycnogenol, on the level of 8-oxoguanine in children suffering from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Free Radic Res 40: 1003-1010, 2006.
  • Cossins E, et al. ESR studies of vitamin C regeneration, order of reactivity of natural source phytochemical preparations. Biochem Mol Biol Int 45: 583-598, 1998.
  • Devaraj S, et al. Supplementation with a pine bark extract rich in polyphenols increases plasma antioxidant capacity and alters the plasma lipoprotein profile. Lipids 37: 931-934, 2002.
  • Farid R, et al. Pycnogenol® Supplementation Reduces Pain and Stiffness and Improves Physical Function in Adults with of Knee Osteoarthritis. Nutr Res 2007, 27:692-697.
  • Grimm T, et al. Inhibition of NF-κB activation and MMP-9 secretion by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®). J Inflamm 3: 1-15, 2006.
  • Kimbrough C, et al. Pycnogenol® chewing gum minimizes gingival bleeding and plaque formation. Phytomed 9: 410-413, 2002.
  • Kohama T, et al. The treatment of gynaecological disorders with Pycnogenol®.  Eur Bull Drug Res 7(2): 30-32, 1999.
  • Kohama T, et al. Analgesic efficacy of Pycnogenol® in dysmenorrhea. An open clinical trial. J Reprod Med 49: 828-832, 2004.
  • Kohama T, et al. Effect of French maritime pine bark extract on endometriosis as compared to leuprorelin acetate. J Reprod Med, 52: 703-708, 2007.
  • Hosseini S, et al. A Randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, prospective, 16 week crossover study to determine the role of Pycnogenol® in modifying blood pressure in mildly hypertensive patients. Nutr Res 21: 67-76, 2001.
  • Liu X, et al. French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol® dose-dependently lowers glucose in type II diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 27: 839, 2004.
  • Liu X, et al. Antidiabetic effect of Pycnogenol® French maritime pine bark extract in patients with diabetes type II. Life Sciences 75: 2505-2513, 2004.
  • Nishioka K, et al. Pycnogenol®, French maritime pine bark extract, augments endothelium-dependent vasodilation in humans. Hypertens Res 30: 775-780, 2007.
  • Noda Y, et al. Hydroxyl and superoxide anion radical scavenging activities of natural source antioxidants using the computerized JES-FR30 ESR spectrometer system. Biochem Mol Biol Int 42: 35-44, 1997.
  • Rohdewald P. A review of the French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®), a herbal medication with a diverse clinical pharmacology. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 40: 158-168, 2002.
  • Ruggeri S, et al. French marine bark extract Pycnogenol as a possible enrichment ingredient for yogurt. J Dairy Sci 91: 4484-4491, 2008.
  • Ryan J, et al. An examination of the effects of the antioxidant Pycnogenol® on cognitive performance, serum lipid profile, endocrinological and oxidative stress biomarkers in an elderly population. J Psychopharmacol 22: 553-562, 2008.
  • Saliou C, Rimbach G, Moini H, McLaughlin L, Hosseini S, et al. Solar ultraviolet-induced erythema in human skin and nuclear factor-kappa-B-dependent gene expression in keratinocytes are modulated by a French maritime pine bark extract. Free Rad Biol Med 30: 154-160, 2001.
  • Schäfer A, et al. Oligomeric procyanidins of French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®) effectively inhibit alpha-glucosidase. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 77: 41-46, 2007. 
  • Segger D, et al. Supplementation with Evelle improves skin smoothness and elasticity in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 62 women. J Dermatol Treat 15: 222-226, 2004.
  • Trebaticka J, et al. Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol®. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 15: 329-335, 2006.
  • Suzuki N, et al. French Maritime Pine Bark Extract significantly lowers the requirements for analgesic medication in Dysmenorrhea: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Reprod Med, 53: 338-346, 2008.
  • Vinciguerra G, et al. Cramps and muscular pain: prevention with Pycnogenol® in normal subjects, venous patients, athletes, claudicants and in diabetic microangiopathy. Angiology 57: 331-339, 2006.
  • Zibadi S, et al. Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes by Pycnogenol supplementation. Nutrition Research 28: 315-320, 2008.

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