Pycnogenol is a trademarked name for pine bark extract, and there is little to no difference between the two in terms of composition or effects. You might use pine bark extract or pycnogenol to help treat a variety of medical conditions, including chronic venous insufficiency, retinopathy or erectile dysfunction. Before you take pycnogenol or pine bark extract, consult your doctor to discuss the proper dosage and potential health risks.
French marine pine bark extract is commonly sold under the name pycnogenol. It is used to prevent and treat chronic venous insufficiency, as well as several other medical conditions, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Pycnogenol essentially contains pine bark extract from the Pinus maritima tree. The herbal remedy is sometimes also called French maritime pine bark extract, pygenol or oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC).
Pine bark extract and pycnogenol contain OPCs, also called procyanidolic oligomers (PCOs), which are also found in grape seed extract, reports the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). OPCs appear to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial actions and might act to stimulate your immune system, protect against atherosclerosis and prevent certain types of cancers, according to the Sloan-Kettering. Specifically, the OPCs in pine bark extract and pycnogenol seem to prevent leaking in the blood vessels, and the flavonoids called catechin and taxifolin in the herb stimulate nitric oxide production in the body, which relaxes your blood vessels, DrugDigest.org explains.