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How is Pine Bark Extract Made & What are its Benefits and Downsides?

Pine bark extract has a long list of health benefits that keeps getting longer.

Many cultures use bark, needles, nuts, and resins of pine trees as medicine.(1,2,3,4)

Pine bark tea is used by the indigenous people of North America to heal scurvy.

What is Pine Bark Extract?

Pinus pinaster is a type of pine tree found in the Mediterranean including Portugal, Spain, France, and Morocco. They are also known as maritime or cluster pines.

The barks of these pines grow in various shades of brown, orange, and red.

Most of the species of pine have beneficial health properties, but maritime pine bark extract is the most used type in herbal supplements.

How is Pine Bark Extract Made?

Pine bark extract is made by grinding pine bark and washing and soaking it in hot water. The solids present in the mixture are then removed.

The liquid left can be used as it is or can be further processed by freeze-drying and grinding into powder.

Nutrients Present in Pine Bark Extract

Maritime pines are known for their health-promoting compounds like vitamins, phytonutrients, and polyphenols.

The amount of compounds present in the extract also depends on the type of bark used and how it is manufactured.(5,6)

The most notable polyphenols present in pine bark extract are:

  1. Procyanidins: It is a type of flavonoid that has antioxidant and medicinal properties.
  2. Catechins: It is an antioxidant-like flavonoid that protects cells from oxidation and damaging free radicals.
  3. Phenolic acids: These are a group of phenols that exhibit high antioxidant activity commonly found in plant food.

These compounds are known to give pine bark extract their antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.(5,6,7,8)

These properties of pine bark extract can help improve the symptoms of cancer, heart disease, and certain neurodegenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Benefits of Pine Bark Extract

There are numerous test-tube studies and animal studies to support the health benefits of pine bark extract.

Reduces Inflammation

Pine bark extract influences the body’s cellular pathway to regulate inflammation and the immune system.(8,9)

Its benefits in conditions like diabetes, traumatic brain injuries, and heart disease are still being researched.

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is used in the treatment of chronic airway inflammatory conditions such as asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.(10)

Animal studies and test-tube studies show Pycnogenol has the ability to improve inflammation in airway cells.(11) A few human studies also show its effectiveness in alleviating asthma symptoms.(12,13)

During the study 76 asthma patients were given 100mg of Pycnogenol supplement daily for 6 months. It was shown to improve coughing and wheezing dependency on corticosteroids.(13)

Pine barks are rich in procyanidin that may help ease short-term and long-term joint inflammation related to arthritis.(14)

Supports Heart Health

Pine bark has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can therefore support a healthy cardiovascular system.(15,16)

In a study, 24 adults with high blood pressure took oligopin bark daily for 5 weeks. This improved their HDL cholesterol and also lowered systolic blood pressure.(17)

In another study, 23 adults with coronary heart disease took 200 mg of Pycnogenol every day. It improves blood flow, through the arteries and improved the level of isoprostane.(18)

Few studies have determined that there is no link between Pycnogenol and blood pressure.(19)

Other Uses of Pine Bark Extracts

Pine bark extract is also useful in the following conditions:

Downsides of Pine Bark Extract

Pine bark is well tolerated by most patients and has very little evidence that suggests its side effects.

It is therefore considered safe if used in recommended amounts.

Some people may have sensitivities to pine bark they include:

  • Older adults
  • Pregnant females
  • Breastfeeding females
  • Those who have suppressed immune system

As not much research has been done, the above-mentioned group of people should avoid pine bark extract.

Some medicines such as blood clotting, diabetes, and immunosuppressant may interact with pine bark. It is therefore important to check with a healthcare provider before starting it.

Pine bark is an herbal supplement that contains healthy polyphenols, which are known to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.

As not much evidence support its benefits, it is good to consult a trusted medical provider to ensure its safe usage.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 9, 2021

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