Maritime Pine Bark (Pinus Pinaster)

Maritime pine bark is the bark of a tree called maritime pine or Pinus Pinaster. This tree is an evergreen pine tree, growing 20-35 meters tall, and having a tree trunk with a diameter up to 120 cm, but often less than 50 cm. It is native to the western and southwestern Mediterranean region, but it has also been planted in many temperate regions around the world. Due to its rapid growth, it has become an invasive and unwelcome tree in some regions as it has overtaken native vegetation.

Pinus Pinaster is widely used for timber production in countries such as France, Spain and Portugal. It is also a popular ornamental tree, often planted in parks and gardens in areas with warm temperate climates.

The bark of Pinus Pinaster, which is normally orange-red and thick, is reported to have several health benefits. The active ingredients in pine bark that produce these effects are something called procyanidins. Procyanidins are a class of what are called flavonoids, and it is thought that these procyanidins play an important role in the pine tree’s defence mechanisms against plant pathogens.

Procyanidins are also found in many other kinds of vegetation such as apples, cinnamon, cocoa beans, grape seeds, bilberry, cranberry, black currant, green tea, etc., however pine bark is often chosen as the source of these procyanidins in supplements due to ease of extraction and availability.

Jacques Cartier was a French explorer in the 1500’s. He was the first European to travel inland in North America and he also claimed what is now Canada for France. In 1535, due to a very harsh winter, his ship got frozen in the St. Lawrence River for several months. As they ran out of food supplies, several of his crew members developed scurvy, a condition typically caused by nutritional deficiency, and particularly a lack of vitamin C. Many of his crew members got so sick that they died from this condition.

Legend has it that when the son of an Indian village chief observed this, he gave the crew a hot brew made of needles of the thuja tree and pine bark. A few days after drinking this brew, the crew members saw significant health improvements and were shortly thereafter cured of scurvy. It has later been discovered that this brew contained substantial amounts of healthy substances such as vitamin C, antioxidants, flavonoids, procyanidins and phytochemicals that were able to treat scurvy in the crew members.

Procyanidins have through research studies demonstrated several heath benefits. One of the key positive impacts on health is their ability to improve bloodflow in the body, primarily through increasing nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide is a crucial element, both in increasing bloodflow in the body generally as well as to the genitals. This is because nitric oxide essentially causes blood vessels to expand, so that more blood can flow through the body. Therefore, an increase in nitric oxide levels will normally support bloodflow in the body and also to the penis, which will normally aid a man in getting and keeping an erection. To learn more about nitric oxide on Truelibido, please go here.

Nitric oxide is produced with the help of a group of enzymes called nitric oxide synthase. Nitric oxide synthase combines a nitrogen atom from l-arginine and an oxygen atom from molecular oxygen to create nitric oxide. It has been demonstrated that procyanidins have the ability to increase nitric oxide levels by making the enzyme nitric oxide synthase more efficient at producing nitric oxide.

Procyanidins are also able to increase nitric oxide levels because of their potent antioxidant properties. Nitric oxide, which is a free radical as it has a single unpaired electron orbiting its nucleus, reacts very easily with other molecules. And when nitric oxide reacts with other elements, it becomes something else than nitric oxide and therefore can no longer perform the functions of nitric oxide.

Two molecules that very easily react with nitric oxide are called superoxide and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL). When nitric oxide reacts with either of these substances, nitric oxide is eliminated. This is where procyanidins can be very helpful to nitric oxide levels. As a powerful antioxidant, procyanidins also react with superoxide and oxidized LDL. As a result, procyanidins are able to reduce the levels of superoxide and oxidized LDL in the bloodstream. This is turn means that fewer of these molecules will react with and eliminate nitric oxide, and as a result levels of nitric oxide are increased.

The smooth muscles in the penis are normally in a state of contraction – this is what keeps the penis flaccid. When these smooth muscles contract, they squeeze around the blood vessels and therefore do not let blood enter the penis other than for maintenance purposes. They are kept in a state of contraction by high levels of free calcium.

However, when nitric oxide is produced by nitric oxide synthase, it is diffused into the smooth muscles of the penis, and through a cascade of events, these free calcium levels are reduced. When free calcium levels are reduced, the smooth muscles let go of the contraction and instead start to relax. When the smooth muscles relax, blood is allowed to flow into the penis and an erection can start to form. Therefore, nitric oxide is paramount to the erection process, and procyanidins can help support this process by supporting increased production of nitric oxide.

In addition, procyanidins bind to collagen in capillary walls which make capillaries stronger and more elastic. This in turn improves circulation, reduces blood pressure and reduces capillary permeability and fragility.

The ability of procyanidins to increase bloodflow in the body as well as to directly improve erectile functioning has been demonstrated in several research studies. One study on 23 people, reviewed the effect of giving persons suffering from coronary artery disease 200 mg/day of Pycnogenol for 8 weeks (in conjunction with standard therapy) followed by placebo or vice versa. Pycnogenol is a patented extract of pine bark that contains 65-75% procyanidins. The study concluded that Pycnogenol was able to improve bloodflow by 32% in patients with coronary artery disease.

Another study on 58 persons, reviewed the results of giving 180 mg/day of Pycnogenol to healthy young men for two weeks. This study reported that Pycnogenol augmented endothelium-dependent vasodilation by increasing nitric oxide production. A study on 16 hypertensive patients given 100 mg/day Pycnogenol over a period of 12 weeks also showed similar results.

One research study reviewed the effect Pycnogenol had on 21 men with erectile dysfunction. The patients were provided with 120 mg/day of Pycnogenol or a placebo for three months. The study reported that Pycnogenol significantly improved erectile dysfunction.

Several studies also show that when Pycnogenol is combined with the amino acid l-arginine, the two supplements work in a synergistic manner to increase the overall nitric oxide levels. Therefore, this combination can be effective in increasing the strength and duration of a man’s erection. To learn about the combined effect of pine bark extract and l-arginine on Truelibido, please go here.

Pine bark extract is often used as a supplement to improve libido and erectile functioning, but it is also used for preventing disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure. It has been shown to improve blood sugar in persons with type 2 diabetes as well as to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and to treat the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

Pine bark extract may also reduce stuffed nose in response to allergies, have fat-burning and anti-obesity effects and improve attention and memory functions. In addition, pine bark has been reported to improve physical fitness and reduce oxidative stress and muscular pain. It is also reported to be antimicrobial and improve asthma conditions.

My Experience

  • Form: Capsules, extracted to at least 50% procyanidins
  • Dose: 3 capsules of 200 mg each (total of 600 mg)
  • When: One hour before sexual activity
  • Effect on Libido: None
  • Effect on Erection: Good
  • Effect on Sensation: Good
  • Taste: Horrific
  • Verdict: A good supplements
  • Noticed Side-Effects: None

Given that I had experienced great results with other supplements when taking about 7 grams in powder form, I decided to try the same with pine bark. My first observation: The taste was simply disgusting, just super bitter and awful. And even after having used it several times by now, I have still not gotten used to the taste. I need to take a teaspoon of honey immediately after to flush away the bad taste.

But after the taste is gone, the effects are quite good. In my experience, pine bark is not as good as Tongkat AliTribulus TerrestrisFenugreekHorny Goat Weed or Maca, but the effects are still definitely noticeable.

I have not experienced any effect on libido after taking pine bark, but my erections have been firmer and more solid. Even before sexual activity, my penis often feels fuller than normal. Not hard, but somewhere in between flaccid and erect.

Pine bark has also amplified the pleasurable sensations I experience while having sex, making sex even better. The sensations are stronger, more present and simply more intense.

I am very happy with the effects I get from taking pine bark, however, because of the (in my opinion) terrible taste, I rarely take pine bark in loose powder form anymore.  Its just too much to handle. I therefore take it in capsule form instead. And I also rarely take pine bark by itself. Instead, pine bark has become part of my staple supplements. I don’t always take supplements before having sex, but when I do, pine bark is normally always among the ones I take.

My staple combination is to normally take three supplements as a base. These are l-citrullineZMA and pine bark. And I normally take 600 mg of pine bark extract when I combine it with other supplements. And then in addition to this, I normally take one supplement such as either Tongkat AliTribulus TerrestrisFenugreekHorny Goat Weed or Maca. And sometimes, I only take the three base supplements l-citrullineZMA and pine bark.

I have found that combining supplements like this has provided results that have been absolutely fantastic! The supplements support sexual functions in different ways, and some of these supplements also have synergistic effects, making the combined outcome more impactful. I have found that combining supplements can produce erections that are just as good as those I have gotten when taken pharmaceutical drugs.

I have also never experienced any side effects from taking pine bark extract.

Research Studies

Blazso G, Gabor M, Rohdewald P. Antiinflammatory activities of procyanidin-containing extracts from Pinus pinaster Ait. after oral and cutaneous application. Pharmazie 1997; 52:380-382.

Carr A, Frei B. The role of natural antioxidants in preserving the biological activity of endothelium-derived nitric oxide. Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 Jun 15; 28(12):1806-14.

Cartledge J, Minhas S, Eardley I. The role of nitric oxide in penile erection. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2001 Jan;2(1):95-107.

Devaraj S, Vega-López S, Kaul N, Schönlau F, Rohdewald P, Jialal I. Supplementation with a pine bark extract rich in polyphenols increases plasma antioxidant capacity and alters the plasma lipoprotein profile. Lipids. 2002 Oct; 37(10):931-4.

D̆uračková Z, Trebatickýb B, Novotnýb V, Žitňanováa I, Brezab J. Lipid metabolism and erectile function improvement by pycnogenol, extract from the bark of pinus pinaster in patients suffering from erectile dysfunction-a pilot study. Nutrition Research 09/2003; 23(9):1189-1198. DOI: 10.1016/S0271-5317(03)00126-X.

Enseleit F, Sudano I, Périat D, Winnik S, Wolfrum M, Flammer AJ, Fröhlich GM, Kaiser P, Hirt A, Haile SR, Krasniqi N, Matter CM, Uhlenhut K, Högger P, Neidhart M, Lüscher TF, Ruschitzka F, Noll G. Effects of Pycnogenol on endothelial function in patients with stable coronary artery disease: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. Eur Heart J. 2012 Jul; 33(13):1589-97. DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr482.

Farid R, Mirfeizi Z, Mirheidari M, Rezaieyazdi Z, Mansouri H, Esmaelli H, Zibadi S, Rohdewald P, Watson RR. Pycnogenol supplementation reduces pain and stiffness and improves physical function in adults with knee osteoarthritis. Nutrition Research, Volume 27, Issue 11, November 2007.

Fitzpatrick DF, Bing B, Rohdewald P. Endothelium-dependent vascular effects of Pycnogenol . J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 1998 Oct; 32(4):509-15.

Grimm T, Schäfer A, Högger P. Antioxidant activity and inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases by metabolites of maritime pine bark extract (pycnogenol). Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Mar 15; 36(6):811-22.

He L, Mu C, Shi J, Zhang Q, Shi B, Lin W. Modification of collagen with a natural cross-linker, procyanidin. Int J Biol Macromol. 2011 Mar 1; 48(2):354-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2010.12.012.

Hosseini S, Lee J, Sepulveda RT, Rohdewald P, Watson RR. 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. 2001; 21:1251–1260.

Iravani S, Zolfaghari B. Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical effects of Pinus pinaster bark extract. Res Pharm Sci. 2011 Jan-Jun; 6(1): 1–11.

Jung HC, Mun KH, Park TC, Lee YC, Park JM, Huh K, Seongh DH, Suh JK. Role of nitric oxide in penile erection. Yonsei Med J. 1997 Oct; 38(5):261-9.

Liu X, Wei J, Tan F, Zhou S, Würthwein G, Rohdewald P. Antidiabetic effect of Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract in patients with diabetes type II. Life Sci. 2004 Oct 8; 75(21):2505-13.

Liu X, Wei J, Tan F, Zhou S, Würthwein G, Rohdewald P. Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract, improves endothelial function of hypertensive patients. Life Sci. 2004 Jan 2; 74(7):855-6.

Liu X, Zhou HJ, Rohdewald P. French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol dose-dependently lowers glucose in type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes Care. 2004 Mar; 27(3):839.

Luzzi R, Belcaro G, Zulli C, Cesarone MR, Cornelli U, Dugall M, Hosoi M, Feragalli B. Pycnogenol supplementation improves cognitive function, attention and mental performance in students. Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep; 53(3 Suppl 1):75-82.

Nelson AB, Lau BH, Ide N, Rong Y. Pycnogenol inhibits macrophage oxidative burst, lipoprotein oxidation, and hydroxyl radical-induced DNA damage. Drug Dev Ind Pharm. 1998 Feb; 24(2):139-44.

Nishioka K, Hidaka T, Nakamura S, Umemura T, Jitsuiki D, Soga J, Goto C, Chayama K, Yoshizumi M, Higashi Y. Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract, augments endothelium-dependent vasodilation in humans. Hypertens Res. 2007 Sep; 30(9):775-80.

Packer L, Rimbach G, Virgili F. Antioxidant activity and biologic properties of a procyanidin-rich extract from pine (Pinus maritima) bark, pycnogenol. Free Radic Biol Med. 1999 Sep; 27(5-6):704-24.

Rezzani R, Porteri E, De Ciuceis C, Bonomini F, Rodella LF, Paiardi S, Boari GE, Platto C, Pilu A, Avanzi D, Rizzoni D, Agabiti Rosei E. Effects of melatonin and Pycnogenol on small artery structure and function in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Hypertension. 2010 Jun; 55(6):1373-80. DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.109.148254.

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. 2002 Apr; 40(4):158-68.

Rong Y, Li L, Shah V, Lau BH. Pycnogenol protects vascular endothelial cells from t-butyl hydroperoxide induced oxidant injury. Biotechnol Ther. 1994-1995;5(3-4):117-26.

Shimada T, Kosugi M, Tokuhara D, Tsubata M, Kamiya T, Sameshima M, Nagamine R, Takagaki K, Miyamoto KI, Aburada M. Preventive Effect of Pine Bark Extract (Flavangenol) on Metabolic Disease in Western Diet-Loaded Tsumura Suzuki Obese Diabetes Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2011 17; 2011:185913.

Toda N, Ayajiki K, Okamura T. Nitric oxide and penile erectile function. Pharmacol Ther. 2005 May; 106(2):233-66.

Torras MA, Faura CA, Schönlau F, Rohdewald P. Antimicrobial activity of Pycnogenol. Phytother Res. 2005 Jul; 19(7):647-8.

Trebatická J1, Kopasová S, Hradecná Z, Cinovský K, Skodácek I, Suba J, Muchová J, Zitnanová I, Waczulíková I, Rohdewald P, Duracková Z. Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006 Sep; 15(6):329-35.

Uhlenhut K, Högger P. Facilitated cellular uptake and suppression of inducible nitric oxide synthase by a metabolite of maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 Jul 15; 53(2):305-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2012.04.013.

Vinciguerra G, Belcaro G, Bonanni E, Cesarone MR, Rotondi V, Ledda A, Hosoi M, Dugall M, Cacchio M, Cornelli U. 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. 2013 Dec; 53(6):644-54.

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