Pycnogenol for men’s health: part II

Frank Schoenlau, PhD, Scientific Director at Horphag Research, presents a comprehensive literature review of the company’s French maritime pine bark extract and its applications in men’s health

In addition to its many cardiovascular applications, as listed in Part I, Pycnogenol likewise augments cognitive function by supporting greater oxygen use, glucose delivery and antioxidant protection, a series of clinical studies has proven.

A recent study verified the effect of Pycnogenol supplementation in individuals who have early stage cognition problems. Although the trial participants were aged 55–75, daily supplementation with Pycnogenol increased their cognitive performance by 18%, which was significantly greater than the improvement in the control group (a meagre 2.5%).14

A further clinical investigation verified that regular Pycnogenol intake for a period of 12 months significantly benefits cognitive performance in healthy individuals aged 55–70 years and concomitantly quenched oxidative stress.15

Upon supplementation for 8 months, Pycnogenol was demonstrated to improve cognitive function and performance in 53 healthy students. This study proposes that regular supplementation with Pycnogenol will generally support greater brain performance.16

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 101 elderly participants verified that the antioxidant protection activity of Pycnogenol correlates with the protection of delicate lipids in the brain, which, in turn, benefits significantly better cognition.17

A further clinical investigation explored the efficacy of Pycnogenol to improve cognition as well as mood in 60 healthy professionals aged 35–55.18 Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study is currently ongoing in Australia.19

The arterial relaxation of the corpus cavernosum facilitates engorgement with blood for an erection. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was done in which 53 participants (25 with early stage diabetes mellitus) were assigned to one of two groups (placebo and Pycnogenol).

The study outcome revealed that supplementation with Pycnogenol significantly improved erectile function by 45%. The placebo control group presented with decreased erectile function (20%). Total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol significantly decreased with Pycnogenol intake.20

Prostate health

Benign prostate hypertrophy represents a normal development in ageing males. However, benign prostatic enlargement may be counteracted with, for example, regular supplementation with Pycnogenol, a study comprising 75 healthy men with benign prostate hypertrophy suggests.

Two comparable groups with benign prostate hyperplasia were either provided standard treatment or the same condition management with additional supplementation with Pycnogenol.

Compared with the group of men that were not supplemented with Pycnogenol, the active group presented with a remarkable improvement in their ability to empty their bladders and relieve their symptoms after 60 days.21

Sport and fitness

For all men who enjoy sports, Pycnogenol is the supplement of choice. A series of studies has corroborated that Pycnogenol improves physical performance. One hundred and twenty five recreational sportspeople were distributed into one of two groups.

The group supplemented with Pycnogenol and amino acids (isoleucine, arginine and valine) easily outperformed the control group. The researchers concluded that the antioxidant performance of Pycnogenol also contributed to fewer cramping incidents.22

Further studies corroborated the finding that supplementation with Pycnogenol elevates physical capacity during a triathlon. Two groups of athletes of both genders were trained for 4 weeks, one with 32 participants in the control group and a second group with 22 participants who were supplemented with Pycnogenol.

The study outcome presented a significantly better performance in the Pycnogenol group compared with the control athletes.23

Joint Support

A very sophisticated research project showed that Pycnogenol consumption leads to an accumulation of its active metabolites in joint tissues where they exert their pronounced anti-inflammatory potency. Further investigations exploring joint synovial fluid pointed to improved inflammation arrest and greater cartilage regeneration.24,25

Further to the exploration of mechanisms of action, the most important outcome for a suffering individual is pain relief and regaining mobility. The latter is commonly assessed by the maximum walking distance of an individual on a treadmill.

The corresponding controlled, double-blinded clinical trial found that joint pain continuously subsides with significant improvement after 60 days. Even better results were achieved after 90 days of daily supplementation with Pycnogenol.26

Three further and independent controlled clinical trials have unilaterally reached the conclusion that supplementation with Pycnogenol significantly benefits joint health recovery. Within 30 days of daily supplementation, knee joints recovered with pain and knee stiffness subsiding and walking distance extended.27–29

Muscle Loss

A peer-reviewed study shows that a French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol, may be effective in curbing the muscle loss that occurs with ageing — a natural process that leads to sarcopenia, a common condition affecting adults as early as 65 years of age.

The study, published in the Journal of Orthopedics and Traumatology, revealed that daily supplementation with Pycnogenol helps to stabilise muscles through this natural process and supports muscular function and endurance.30

In the study, otherwise healthy participants aged 70–78 exhibiting symptoms of muscle loss, sarcopenia and fatigue reported feeling increased muscle endurance when completing daily task such as walking and stair climbing, and improved overall muscular function (30%). After just 8 weeks of taking 150 mg of Pycnogenol, the study results showed that

  • participants who took Pycnogenol daily demonstrated greater muscular function and endurance in daily tasks such as carrying items (4–5 lb), climbing stairs and distance walked
  • Pycnogenol measurably reduced oxidative stress, a common measurement of sarcopenia that prevents the body from normal detoxification and repair
  • supplementation with Pycnogenol reduced proteinuria — the presence of protein in urine which, with normal kidney function, can indicate waste from muscle erosion
  • individuals who took Pycnogenol demonstrated improved general fitness scores in comparison with a control group who did not take the natural antioxidant.


14. M. Hosoi, et al., “Pycnogenol Supplementation in Minimal Cognitive Dysfunction,” J. Neurosurg. Sci. 62(3), 279–284 (2018).

15. G. Belcaro, et al., “The COFU3 Study: Improvement in Cognitive Function, Attention, Mental Performance with Pycnogenol in Healthy Subjects (55–70) with High Oxidative Stress,” J. Neurosurg. Sci. 59(4), 437–446 (2015).

16. R. Luzzi, et al., “Pycnogenol Supplementation Improves Cognitive Function, Attention and Mental Performance in Students,” Panminerva Med. 53(3), 75–82 (2011).

17. J. Ryan, 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(5), 553–562 (2008).

18. G. Belcaro, et al., “Pycnogenol Improves Cognitive Function, Attention, Mental Performance and Specific Professional Skills in Healthy Professionals Aged 35–55,” J. Neurosurg. Sci. 58(4), 239–248 (2014).

19. T. Simpson, et al., “Assessing the Efficacy and Mechanisms of Pycnogenol on Cognitive Aging From In Vitro Animal and Human Studies,” Front. Pharmacol. 10, 694: doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.00694 (2019).

20. B. Trebaticky, et al., “Natural Polyphenols Improve Erectile Function and Lipid Profile in Patients Suffering from Erectile Dysfunction,” Bratisl. Lek Listy 120(12), 941–944 (2019).

21. A. Ledda, et al., “Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy: Pycnogenol Supplementation Improves Prostate Symptoms and Residual Bladder Volume,” Minerva Med. 109(4), 280–284 (2018).

22. G. Vinciguerra, et al., “PycnoRacer, a Fitness Drink Including Pycnogenol, Improves Recovery and Training in the Cooper Test,” Panminerva Med. 61(4), 457–463 (2019).

23. G. Vinciguerra, et al., “Evaluation of the Effects of Supplementation with Pycnogenol on Fitness in Normal Subjects with the Army Physical Fitness Test and in Performances of Athletes in the 100-Minute Triathlon,” J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness 53(6), 644–654 (2013).

24. S. Jessberger, et al., “Cellular Pharmacodynamic Effects of Pycnogenol in Patients with Severe Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study,” BMC Complement Altern. Med. 17(1), 537: doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-2044-1 (2017).

25. M. Mülek, et al., “Distribution of Constituents and Metabolites of Maritime Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) into Serum, Blood Cells and Synovial Fluid of Patients with Severe Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Nutrients 9(5), E443: doi: 10.3390/nu9050443 (2017).

26. R. Farid, et al., “Pycnogenol Supplementation Reduces Pain and Stiffness and Improves Physical Function in Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis,” Nutrition Research 27(11), 692–697 (2007).

27. G. Belcaro, et al., “Treatment of Osteoarthritis with Pycnogenol. The SVOS (San Valentino Osteoarthrosis Study). Evaluation of Signs, Symptoms, Physical Performance and Vascular Aspects,” Phytother. Res. 22, 518–523 (2008).

28. P. Cisar, et al., “Effect of Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) on Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis,” Phytother. Res. 22, 1087–1092 (2008).

29. B. Feragalli, et al., “Pycnogenol: Supplementary Management of Symptomatic Osteoarthritis with a Patch. An Observational Registry Study,” Minerva Endocrinol. 44(1), 97–101 (2019).

30. G. Belcaro and M. Dugall, “Preservation of Muscular Mass and Strength in Aged Subjects with Pycnogenol Supplementation,” Minerva Ortopedica e Traumatologica 67(3), 124–130 (2016).