Maritime Pine

Scientific names: Pinus pinaster Aiton.

Common names: Maritime pine extract, pine bark extract, Pycnogenol

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Maritime Pine?

P. pinaster Aiton (previously named Pinus maritima Mill.) is a medium-sized pine growing up to 100 ft tall with bright red-brown, deeply fissured bark. It has stout needles occurring in pairs, and the plant produces oval cones 10 to 20 cm long. The tree is native to the western and southwestern Mediterranean regions but has rapidly naturalized to other countries, including the US, England, South Africa, and Australia. The largest man-made forest in the world, the 900,000 hectare Les Landes on the Atlantic coast of southwestern France is populated almost entirely by P. pinaster.

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What is it used for?

Miscellaneous uses

In 1535, a French explorer is reputed to have used tea made from the bark of the maritime pine to treat scurvy among his sailors when his ship became icebound. The name Pycnogenol is a trademark of the British company Horphag Research, Ltd. for a proprietary mixture of water-soluble proanthocyanidins derived from the bark of the European coastal pine, which grows along the coast of southwest France in Gascogne.

Pine bark extract is available without a prescription in US health food stores and pharmacies. Product literature indicates that the dietary supplement is a free radical scavenger, and claims for its effects include improving circulation, reducing inflammation, and protecting collagen from natural degradation.

General uses

Pine bark extract demonstrates antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions and has been studied for a wide range of ailments, including long-term vein blood flow problems, heart/blood vessel conditions, and erectile dysfunction. However, many clinical studies have been small and poorly designed.

What is the recommended dosage?

Doses of pine bark extract have been studied in clinical trials, most commonly at 150 mg of Pycnogenol per day.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Contraindications have not been identified.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Pine bark extract is generally well tolerated, with minor stomach discomfort, dizziness, nausea, and headache occasionally noted. Clinical studies using Pycnogenol report no clinically important adverse events.

Toxicities

Pine bark extract is generally recognized as safe (GRAS), based on data from clinical trials. Limited toxicological data are available.

References

  1. Maritime Pine. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health; January 2012.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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