Offering an array of benefits – from fewer post-workout muscle aches to relief from menopause symptoms – here’s all you need to know about powerhouse supplement, pycnogenol.
Whether you’re dealing with the post-workout aches or menopause-induced brain fog, pycnogenol has a range of benefits and could offer support. Pronounced ‘pic-noj-en-all’, this natural plant extract originates from the bark of the maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France. It has been found to contain a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and phenolic acids, which offer extensive natural health benefits.
Featuring in more than 420 clinical scientific publications and with more than 40 years of research attesting to its efficacy, pycnogenol has been shown to improve mood and anxiety, reduce fatigue and hot flushes in menopausal women and promote better skin elasticity and cognitive function. Plus, this powerhouse nutrient is also proving popular with athletes thanks to its ability to reduce muscle crampps and achiness.
How pycnogenol eases achy muscles
The day after a tough workout, many people struggle with muscle achiness known as DOMS, aka delayed onset muscle soreness. In a study, pycnogenol was shown to significantly reduce muscular pain and cramps in athletes and healthy, normal individuals.
How does it work? The study found pycnogenol aids the body in producing nitric oxide, which helps to relax blood vessels, enhance microcirculation and improve blood flow to the muscles. In turn, this supports the body in achieving peak muscle performance during workouts, while also speeding up recovery after exercise, which subsequently results in fewer achy muscles the next day.
‘It can benefit everyday exercisers and hard-core athletes alike,’ adds Dr Fred Pascatore, who recommends the supplement for athletes. ‘It can also help with the internal aging of our organs and blood vessels. This is thanks to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.’
Prevent age-related muscle loss with pycnogenol
As well as preventing muscle achiness, research shows this supplement can also protect the muscles as you get older. ‘As we age, muscle loss, or sarcopenia, starts to impact the daily activities we tend to take for granted. For example, climbing stairs, lifting groceries or enjoying walks without getting tired,’ explains Dr Pascatore. ‘New research shows that pycnogenol can help alleviate the symptoms of sarcopenia and can support muscle function as we age.’
In one study, healthy participants aged 70-78, who were exhibiting symptoms of muscle loss, saw a significant improvement in muscular function after taking pycnogenol extract for eight weeks. In fact, 71 per cent of participants reported an improved ability to carry items. What’s more, 52 per cent reported greater ease when climbing stairs. With muscle weakness also being directly linked to decreasing bone strength, this super supplement could be a vital tool for active women as they age.
Does pycnogenol boost your energy?
Alongside supporting your muscles, two clinical studies have shown that pycnogenol may also contribute to improved energy levels and endurance. This link was first studied several years ago at California State University. Here, recreational athletes showed an increase in endurance while supplementing with pycnogenol. This was compared to participants taking a placebo. So, alongside assisting post-workout recovery, this powerhouse pine extract shows promising results as a pre-workout booster too!
Benefits of pycnogenol for menopause symptoms:
Outside of the gym, pycnogenol also offers an array of benefits – particularly for those experiencing menopause or perimenopause. Whether it’s hot flushes, brain fog, fatigue or irritability, it’s no secret that the menopause can come with a lot of unwanted symptoms. It’s good news then that pycnogenol has been scientifically proven to reduce symptoms associated with menopause, from vaginal dryness to joint discomfort, without any impact on hormonal levels.
Best pycnogenol supplements to try
Holland & Barrett Pycnogenol® 60mg
BUY IT NOW:
£25 for 30 capsules, hollandandbarrett.com
Containing natural plant extracts derived from the French Maritime Pine, these vegan-friendly capsules provide a concentrated source of pycnogenol and citrus bioflavonoids.
Eostre Perimenopause and Menopause Support Supplement
BUY IT NOW:
£37 for 30 capsules, eostre.com
This daily supplement offers all-round support for menopausal women. It’s powered by pycnogenol, alongside l-theanine, iodine, ashwaghanda, folate, selenium and vitamins B6, B12 and D,
BUY IT NOW:
£18.95 for 30 capsules, healthspan.co.uk
These vegan-friendly capsules provide a unique blend of naturally powerful bioflavonoids. It uses only the highest quality natural extract of French maritime pine bark,
Find out more about the studies and benefits mentioned at pycnogenol.com
Words: Lily Smith. Images: Shutterstock and various brands.