Pycnogenol is the registered trade name of product derived from the pine bark of a tree called Pinus pinaster. Pycnogenol is used in the treatment of circulation problems, asthma, erectile dysfunction, a female reproductive system disease known as endometriosis, stroke, heart disease, varicose veins, ringing of the ears, high blood pressure, muscle soreness, diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, an eye disease called retinopathy, osteoarthritis, pain and menopausal symptoms.
Pycnogenol is also used to increase athletic endurance, slow the aging process, maintain healthy skin and improve male fertility. According to WebMD, Pycnogenol contains substances that are thought to stimulate the immune system, contain antioxidant effects and improve blood flow. In the treatment of allergies related to birch, research suggests that people who take Pycnogenol prior to the beginning of the allergy season may reduce the extent of allergy symptoms. It is also possible that Pycnogenol may be effective for treating high cholesterol by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad cholesterol," although further evidence is needed to substantiate this claim. Pycnogenol is generally considered safe when taken in doses of 50-450 mg daily for up to 6 months. Possible side effects include dizziness, mouth ulcers, headaches and gut problems. WebMD suggests that preliminary evidence shows that Pycnogenol might be safely taken later in pregnancies, but it is generally recommended to be avoided until sufficient evidence is made available.