Source Plant: French Maritime Pine (Pinus maritima)
Brand Names: Pycnogenol® (pick-NAH-ja-nol)
Formulated and Trademarked by: Horphag Research Ltd.
What Is Pycnogenol®?
Pycnogenol® is the brand name of an extract formulated and trademarked by the British company Horphag Research, Ltd. This natural remedy available as a nutritional supplement is a mixture of water-soluble proanthocyanidins, chemicals derived from the bark of the European coastal pine (Pinus maritima); a tree which grows along the coast of southwest France.
What is Pycnogenol® Used For?
Pycnogenol® has been studied in clinical trials for its effectiveness in treating a wide range of disorders, including adult ADHD, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), lupus, vascular retinopathy, osteoarthritis, hypertension and asthma, to name just a few. The company recommends the extract as a general health supplement and for the treatment of disorders that have shown improvement with its use.
How Do I Take Pycnogenol®?
There are many companies that manufacture products containing this proprietary extract, and it is available in a range of formulations and doses, most containing between 20mg-100mg of Pycnogenol®. For general use as a supplement, a standard daily dosage is 1 mg per kilogram of body weight. Because the extract has an astringent taste that occasionally causes mild stomach discomfort, it is recommended that Pycnogenol® be taken with or after meals.
How Does Pycnogenol® Work?
Little is known about specifically how the extract works as a supplement and treatment, but the product website indicates that it has four main properties. Pycnogenol® acts as:
· an antioxidant
· a natural anti-inflammatory
· a molecule that selectively binds to collagen and elastin
· an aids in the production of endothelial nitric oxide, a substance that helps vasodilate blood vessels
Is Pycnogenol® an Effective Treatment for Adult ADHD?
There is still limited clinical information regarding the effectiveness of Pycnogenol in the treatment of ADHD, and, as far as this author is aware, there have been no formal clinical studies conducted involving adults with ADHD.
In 2006, there was a study published in the European Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychology which examined the effectiveness of this supplement in treating children with ADHD.
In the study, sixty-one children were supplemented daily for four weeks with either placebo or a dose of with 1 mg per kg Pycnogenol®. The patients were examined using standard ADHD questionnaires and rating scales at the start of trial, one month after treatment began and one month after the end of treatment period.
One month of treatment with Pycnogenol® resulted in a significant reduction of hyperactivity, as well as an improvement in attention, visual-motor coordination and concentration of children with ADHD. The examination that took place one month after termination of Pycnogenol® treatment showed a relapse of symptoms.
Is Pycnogenol® Safe?
Pycnogenol® has been subjected to efficacy and safety tests. Toxicity test results suggest that Pycnogenol® is safe, even at high doses for long periods of time. To date, there have been no serious adverse side effects observed or reported in clinical trials.
Mild side effects may include gastro-intestinal discomfort, headache, nausea and dizziness. No contraindications, toxicities or interactions have been identified. Some of the children have taken Pycnogenol® for ADHD became irritable and showed decreased energy; but, overall the supplement appears to be well tolerated.
Although no adverse effects have been documented, pregnant women and small children are advised against taking Pycnogenol®.
Total Treatment of ADHD
Pycnogenol®, or any medication used to treat ADHD, should be used as a part of a total treatment program. Comprehensive treatment of the adult ADHD often includes education, support groups, regular doctor appointments and therapy or counseling.
Horphag Research Official Pycnogenol Website: http://www.pycnogenol.com/
Trebaticka, J., et al. (2006) Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol®. Eur. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry; Vol. 20 : No.20: 1-7.