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INTRODUCTION

Activities:

Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, photoprotective, antimicrobial

Important Chemical Components:

Flavonoids, primarily procyanidins (which are biopolymers of catechin and epicatechin subunits),1 taxifolin,2 and phenolic acids (i.e., ferulic, caffeic, p-hydroxybenzoic, vanillic, gallic, and protocatechuic acids)1,3–5

Origin Classification:

Pycnogenol is a legal trademark for a process of extracting flavonoids and other compounds from French maritime pine bark.6 Thus, its origin is natural but the marketed standardized pine bark extract product is synthesized and processed in the laboratory.

Personal Care Category:

Anti-inflammatory, hydrating

Recommended for the following Baumann Skin Types:

DRNT, DRNW, DRPW, DSNT, DSNW, DSPW, ORNT, ORNW, ORPW, OSNT, OSNW, and OSPW

SOURCE

Growing in the coastal areas of southwest France, Pinus pinaster (previously known as Pinus maritima) is the source of the procyanidin (also known as proanthocyanidin)-rich standardized extract Pycnogenol.7,8 Twenty years ago, it was found that procyanidol oligomers (PCOs) bind to elastic skin fibers when intradermally injected into young rabbits. Research showed that PCOs and (+) catechin (catechins are the fundamental antioxidant elements in green tea) bound to insoluble elastin significantly decelerating the rate of degradation engendered by elastases, which is characteristic of inflammatory processes.9 Since this time, a small but cogent body of research has evolved regarding PCOs (now referred to as oligomeric proanthocyanidins, or OPCs), particularly in grape seed extract and French maritime pine bark extract. OPCs, usually referred to simply as proanthocyanidins, are the most potent antioxidant free-radical scavengers yet identified. Great varieties of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, flowers, and bark, particularly, grape seed, grape skin, bilberry, cranberry, black currant, green tea, black tea, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, black cherry, red wine, red cabbage, and red apple skins are the sources of widely available OPCs.10 Grape seed and pine bark are the most commercially viable sources. P. pinaster, like the extract of grape seed, is emerging as a versatile component in the medical armamentarium against several diseases, and appears to offer potential dermatologic applications.

HISTORY

“Pycnogenols,” based on the ancient Greek puknos (“condensed”) and genos (“class, family”), is a term originally coined to describe a class of polyphenols (flavan-3-ol derivatives), but “Pycnogenol” has come to refer to the patented name for a proprietary mix of procyanidins extracted from French maritime pine bark, Pinus pinaster, standardized, and sold primarily as a nutritional supplement.3,11 The use of pine bark itself dates back to the 4th century BCE and records showing that Hippocrates recommended it to treat inflammation.3

Native Americans are said to have been well aware of pine bark’s medicinal benefits for centuries, as far back as the 1500s, and reportedly used pine bark (thought to be white pine) to treat scurvy during the winter in Canada in 1535.12–14 It has been used as a health supplement since 1853.15 Today, Pycnogenol continues to be used worldwide as a nutritional supplement ...

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