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Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (
January 2012

Pycnogenol® May Reduce Signs of Skin Aging

Supplementation with Pycnogenol® may improve skin hydration and elasticity in postmenopausal women, according to a recent study.

Pycnogenol® is the registered trade name for a patented water extract of the bark of the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster ssp. atlantica), which grows in coastal southwestern France. Pycnogenol® contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), as well as several other bioflavonoids: catechin, epicatechin, phenolic acids (such as ferulic acid and caffeic acid), and taxifolin. Procyanidins are oligomeric catechins found at high concentrations in red wine, grapes, cocoa, cranberries, and apples. Procyanidins are also often incorporated into supplements, such as Pycnogenol®, for their antioxidative properties. It has been suggested that increased bioflavanoid consumption may underlie the so-called French Paradox, the observation that the French exhibit a lower incidence of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, despite relatively high-fat diets.

Researchers recruited 20 healthy postmenopausal women who received supplementation with Pycnogenol® for 12 weeks. The team assessed the participants' skin condition both before and after treatment.

The results suggested that Pycnogenol® may boost the elasticity of skin and maintain adequate hydration for a younger appearance.

The scientists concluded that supplementation with Pycnogenol® may help reduce the signs of aging in postmenopausal women by improving skin hydration and elasticity.

There has been some confusion in the United States market regarding OPC products containing Pycnogenol® or grape seed extract (GSE), as one of the generic terms for the chemical constituents of OPC, "pycnogenols", is the same as the patented trade name (Pycnogenol®). In addition, some grape seed extract products have been erroneously labeled and marketed in the United States as containing "pycnogenols." Although grape seed extracts and Pycnogenol® do contain similar chemical constituents (primarily in the OPC fraction), the chemical, pharmacological, and clinical literature of the two products is distinct. The term Pycnogenol® should therefore only be used to refer to this specific, proprietary pine bark extract. Scientific literature regarding this product should not be referenced as a basis for the safety or effectiveness of grape seed extract.

Preliminary clinical trials have been conducted in a number of indications and clinical contexts, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction. Positive effects have been noted; however, further well designed clinical trials are still required to establish the clinical efficacy and safety of Pycnogenol®.

For more information about Pycnogenol®, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Marini A, Grether-Beck S, Jaenicke T, et al. Pycnogenol® Effects on Skin Elasticity and Hydration Coincide with Increased Gene Expressions of Collagen Type I and Hyaluronic Acid Synthase in Women. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2012 Jan 21;25(2):86-92. View Abstract
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
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