Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health. This week we are going to talk about Pycnogenol.
One of my patients brought me a book a while back titled “The Pycnogenol Phenomenon: The most unique and versatile health supplement” by two PhDs who have studied this substance their entire lives, Peter Rohdewald and Richard A. Passwater.
After reading this book, I am convinced that this supplement is one you should consider adding to your regimen, especially for anti-aging. I’ve known about Pycnogenol for a while, but this information sealed the deal for me personally. I’m taking it every day now!
What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol is an amazing anti-aging nutrient, a bioflavonoid that comes from the bark of the French maritime pine tree that is harvested right after they cut the tree. Pycnogenol helps other vitamins work better as well as having a lot of unique properties on its own.
Pycnogenol has five mechanisms to help you age better.
- It helps with OXIDATIVE STRESS, which is like rust to your body.
- It helps limit MEMBRANE DAMAGE. Every cell in the body has a membrane, or a covering. That membrane needs to be intact because it keeps bad things out. Membranes are semi permeable which means it can let good things in and keep bad things out.
- It limits DNA DAMAGE. When you think of this, think of cancer, but also think about telomeres. Telomeres are the caps at the end of your chromosomes that become shorter as you age. Think of the cap at the end of your shoelace. When it gets damaged your shoelace unravels. The cap is the telomere. The length of these telomeres can predict how long you’re going to live. There’s good evidence that Pycnogenol limits damage to these telomeres.
- It limits INFLAMMATION, which is the root cause of all disease.
- It limits GLYCATION. Glycation is when sugar, or glucose, bonds to proteins or fats. This is a bad thing. It’s one of the triads (inflammation, oxidation, glycation) that cause your body to rust out. This is why diabetics don’t do well in general. They have too much sugar in the blood which causes damage to the vessels.
Pycnogenol And Your Skin
I’ll explain how this nutrient works with a couple of examples.
A lot of people correctly think that pycnogenol helps your skin. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. But in my opinion, beauty is more than just skin deep. What do I mean by that?
What’s happening on the outside (the way your skin is looking) is a reflection of what is happening on the inside. If your skin is looking bad (i.e., skin cancer, wrinkles, etc.) often the same thing is happening on the inside.
Pycnogenol works by rejuvenating the skin, helping collagen production, increasing elasticity, and preventing the collagen from breaking down. It works internally too by lowering glucose levels and increasing nitric oxide.
Note: One of the main functions of nitric oxide is to expand your arteries and promote healing and performance. Think about dilating your blood vessels, which also lowers your blood pressure (also a good thing).
For skin, Pycnogenol is known to prevent sunburns and wrinkles. You need sun for the Vitamin D and many other good effects, but getting sunburned is bad. Pycnogenol (when taken in a capsule) can protect you from sunburns. It also helps with melasma, which is an abnormal pigmentation in areas of your body. A lot of pregnant women get melasma on the face. It’s semi-permanent.
Pycnogenol And Your Heart
Pycnogenol helps with venous insufficiency (think about swollen legs and spider veins). The blood has to travel from the heart to the feet and back up to the heart. It gets pumped out with the heart muscle through arteries which are strong and durable.
When the blood gets to the feet it has to come back against gravity, without a pump, through thin-walled, fragile veins. These veins have valves. Venous insufficiency is when these valves get leaky and you get back flow. That’s unhealthy because this blood needs to get to the lungs and heart to get oxygen. You can get swollen legs for many reasons, but mostly it’s because of venous insufficiency. If you have a lot of it you can form blood clots, ulcerations of the skin, and infection. Your skin can get so tight it can start to break down and it’s almost impossible to heal. Pycnogenol helps with this.
Pycnogenol also helps with arterial health and that starts with your heart. Many famous physicians have said that you’re only as healthy as your arteries are healthy. This is so true. The biggest killer is heart disease. This is the main reason, in my mind, to take pycnogenol. To protect the heart!
It starts with the endothelium, which is the innermost layer of the arteries. The most important thing in preventing heart attacks and strokes is keeping your endothelium healthy.
Note: This is why I order so many Carotid IMT studies. This test evaluates the health of your endothelium.
Clogging of the arteries happens at the endothelium
Note: Remember cholesterol deposits aren’t what kills you, it’s usually blood clots!
What happens is you get excess platelet activation. This can form blood clots in these small arteries which cuts off blood supply, causing heart attacks and strokes. Pycnogenol helps prevent platelet aggregation or that platelet stickiness by decreasing a clot inducing protein called Thromboxane.
They’ve actually done studies on airline passengers for this. If you’re on a jet for 4-5 hours and you don’t move around, you have a higher chance of getting a DVT, which is a blood clot in your leg that can be fatal. In these studies they’ve found that people who took pycnogenol before and right after plane flights were six times less likely to form blood clots on those flights. It helps that pooling of fluid around your lower legs and ankles when you’ve been on your feet for a while and not moving around.
Other Uses For Pycnogenol
- It decreases blood sugar. It’s great for diabetics. It’s great for anyone who has insulin resistance, which is most of us.
- It protects your brain from oxidation and inflammation, and therefore can decrease the risk of dementia.
- It eases arthritis because of that inflammation, glycation, and oxidation triad. Almost everyone as they age gets some degenerative arthritis. I know I have.
- It helps with allergies and asthma because it blocks histamine. This is especially true in kids.
- It helps with jet lag. It decreases swelling in ankles, but it also helps decrease swelling in the brain which a lot of people think causes jet lag.
- It helps decrease the incidence and severity of hemorrhoids (swollen veins).
- It decreases ringing of the ears (Tinnitus).
- It helps with dysmenorrhea (painful periods).
- It helps with menopausal symptoms.
- It helps with erectile dysfunction, especially when combined with L-Arginine. Prelox from LifeExtension is a natural way to help with ED. It has both Pycnogenol and L-Arginine in it.
Note: We put everyone who has Covid-19 on L-Arginine. It’s a vasodilator that also has a lot of other uses. It’s a good pre workout supplement too.
- Pycnogenol may help with ADHD in kids and adults. I’ve used it for that in some people along with L-Tyrosine.
- It probably increases athletic performance. There was a study on triathletes that showed that this supplement shaved an average of 10 minutes off total time when doing a triathlon and taking Pycnogenol. There was a lot less leg cramping. It increases vasodilation and blood flow.
- It seems like it makes other vitamins work better, especially Vitamin C which can get degraded right after you take it.
- It also works well with CoQ10, a great supplement for energy.
Pycnogenol is an amazing supplement. As you age you really need to think about trying this. You should start to notice a difference in a matter of weeks. It’s very safe with very few side effects.
My motto is to LIVE BETTER LONGER.