Pine bark extract, also known as Pycnogenol, is derived from the Pinus pinaster plant and contains potent antioxidants called proanthocyanidins, which are responsible for most of its effects. Research suggests that supplementing with pine bark extract can provide an abundance of benefits that enhance overall health. Consult your health care provider before taking any supplements.
Boosts Kidney Function
Pine bark extract might improve kidney function and decrease the risk of kidney damage from hypertension, according to a study conducted by lead author Dr. Gianni Belcaro and fellow researchers from G D’Annunzio University in Italy. Their report, which was published in the March 2010 issue of the “Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics,” revealed that hypertensive subjects taking Pycnogenol for six months experienced decreases in blood pressure and improvements in kidney function from increased blood flow compared to those taking a placebo.
Pycnogenol might be effective for treating hemorrhoids, a condition that causes inflammation of the veins surrounding the anus. Dr. Gianni Belcaro led a team of researchers from G D’Annunzio University in Italy who investigated the impact of Pycnogenol on acute hemorrhoidal episodes. At the end of the treatment, which was reported in the March 2010 issue of the journal “Phytotherapy Research,” scientists observed that subjects ingesting Pycnogenol for seven days experienced reductions in intensity and duration of pain and bleeding around the anus compared to those receiving a placebo.
Tongkat ali, also known as eurycoma longifolia jack, is shrub-like plant that grows in parts of southeast Asia. The plant isn’t primarily popular for landscaping uses, however, but is instead prized as an herbal supplement. The effects of this supplement range from hormonal changes to antibacterial activity.
Increasing Sperm Count
Many of tongkat ali’s effects have to do with the reproductive system. One effect that researchers have uncovered is the herb’s ability to increase sperm count by enhancing spermatogenesis, the process by which the body produces sperm. In a study published in the journal “Clinics,” researchers found that 14 days of tongkat ali supplementation improved spermatogenesis and increased sperm count in rats, even after they were treated with estrogen. Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone and caused reductions in sperm counts in the rats of the control group.
Bacterial infections can cause serious health hazards if untreated. Researchers from the “Saudi Medical Journal” found that extracts from the leaves and stems of tongkat ali plants could be potent sources of antibacterial compounds because of their effects on certain bacteria.
Tongkat ali is used by some bodybuilders and other athletes because of its effects on testosterone production. According to a study from the journal “Natural Product Communications,” tongkat ali supplementation significantly increases testosterone levels. However, this study was performed in rats, not humans.
Increased Sexual Arousal
One effect of tongkat ali that is probably related to the enhancement of testosterone levels is the increase in sexual arousal. A study from the journal “Experimental Animals” found that tongkat ali administration in rats was a “potent stimulator of sexual arousal.”
Apoptosis is the medical term for cellular death. In most cases, a supplement causing cell death would not be useful. When treating cancer, however, inducing apoptosis is very valuable. A study from the journal “Anticancer Research” found that tongkat ali extracts could cause apoptosis in targeted cells.