URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/1019.html

Maritime Pine

What is it?

Maritime pine trees grow in countries on the Mediterranean Sea. The bark is used to make medicine. Maritime pine trees that grown in an area in southwest France are used to make Pycnogenol, the US registered trademark name for a commercially available maritime pine bark extract. The active ingredients in maritime pine can also be extracted from other sources, including peanut skin, grape seed, and witch hazel bark.

Maritime pine bark extract is commonly used orally to treat and prevent diabetes, diabetes-related health issues, and problems of the heart and blood vessels among many other uses.

Some people use skin creams that contain maritime pine bark extract as "anti-aging" products. It is also applied to the skin to treat foot ulcers in people with diabetes, hemorrhoids, and mouth ulcers caused by chemotherapy.

There is limited scientific research to support most of these uses.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for MARITIME PINE are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • Allergies. Some research shows that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark before allergy season begins reduces allergy symptoms in people with birch allergies.
  • Asthma. Taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark daily, along with asthma medications, seems to decrease asthma symptoms and the need for rescue inhalers in children and adults with asthma.
  • Athletic performance. Young people (age 20-35 years) seem to be able to exercise on a treadmill for a longer time after taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark daily for about a month. Also, athletes training for a physical fitness test or a triathalon seem to perform better in the tests and competitions when they take this extract daily for 8 weeks while training compared to only training.
  • Circulation problems. Taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth seems to reduce leg pain and heaviness, as well as fluid retention, in people with circulation problems. Some people also use horse chestnut seed extract to treat this condition, but using the extract alone appears to be more effective.
  • Improving mental function. Research suggests that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth for 3 months improves mental function and memory in both young adults and the elderly.
  • Disease of the retina in the eye. Taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth for 2 months seems to slow or prevent further worsening of retinal disease caused by diabetes, atherosclerosis, or other diseases. It also seems to improve eyesight..

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth does not seem to help ADHD symptoms in adults. However, taking it by mouth for one month appears to improve symptoms in children.
  • Common cold. Taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth twice daily starting at the beginning of a cold seems to reduce the number of days with a cold and the number of lost working days. It also seems to reduce the amount of over-the-counter cold products needed to manage symptoms.
  • Clogged arteries (coronary artery disease). There is some evidence that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark three times daily for 4 weeks might help improve some complications associated with clogged arteries.
  • Blood clots in deep veins (deep vein thrombosis, DVT). There is some evidence that taking a specific combination product containing maritime pine might help to prevent DVT during long-haul plane flights. The product combines a blend of standardized maritime pine bark extract plus nattokinase. Two capsules are taken 2 hours before the flight and then again 6 hours later. Also, taking the standardized maritime pine bark extract before a flight, 6 hours after the flight, and the following day appears to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the veins during long flights. In addition, taking the extract for one year eems to reduce the risk of post-thrombotic syndrome. This condition can develop in people who already experienced a blood clot.
  • Dental plaque. Early research suggests that chewing at least 6 pieces of gum with added extract from maritime pine bark for 14 days reduces bleeding and prevents increased plaque.
  • Diabetes. Early evidence suggests that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark daily for 3-12 weeks slightly decreases blood sugar in people with diabetes.
  • Foot ulcers due to diabetes. Early research suggests that taking maritime pine bark extract by mouth and applying it to the skin helps heal foot ulcers related to diabetes.
  • Circulation problems in diabetes. Early research shows that taking standardized maritime pine bark extract three times daily for 4 weeks improves circulation and symptoms in people with diabetes.
  • Swelling (edema). Early research suggests that taking standardized extract of maritime pine bark before a flight, 6 hours after the flight, and once the next day reduces ankle swelling.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED). Early research suggests that standardized maritime pine bark extract, used alone or in combination with L-arginine, might improve sexual function in men with ED. It seems to take up to 3 months of treatment for significant improvement.
  • Heart failure. Early research suggests that taking a specific combination product containing standardized maritime pine bark and coenzyme Q10 for 12 weeks improves some symptoms of heart failure.
  • Hemorrhoids. Early research suggests that taking standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth, alone or in combination with a cream containing this same extract, improves quality of life and symptoms of hemorrhoids.
  • High cholesterol. A standardized extract of maritime pine bark seems to lower "bad cholesterol" (low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol) in people with high cholesterol. However, the extract doesn't seem to improve cholesterol levels in people with other conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and others.
  • High blood pressure. One standardized extract of maritime pine bark (Pycnogenol, Horphag Research) seems to lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) but does not significantly lower diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). This extract might also help lower blood pressure in some patients already treated with the blood pressure-lowering drug ramipril. However, other maritime pine bark extract (Toyo-FVG, Toyo Bio-Pharma) does not appear to lower blood pressure in obese people with slightly high blood pressure.
  • Leg cramps. There is some evidence that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth daily might decrease leg cramps.
  • Menopausal symptoms. Early research shows that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth decreases menopausal symptoms, including tiredness, headache, depression and anxiety, and hot flashes.
  • Metabolic syndrome. Early research suggests that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth three times dialy for 6 months lowers triglycerides, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure, and increases high-density lipoprotein (“good” or HDL) cholesterol in people with metabolic syndrome.
  • Oral mucositis. Applying solution containing a standardized extract of maritime pine bark inside the mouth for one week seems to help heal mouth ulcers in children and adolescents undergoing chemotherapy treatment./li>
  • Osteoarthritis. There is mixed evidence about the effectiveness of maritime pine for osteoarthritis. Taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth might reduce overall symptoms, but it does not seem to reduce pain or improve the ability to perform daily tasks.
  • Pain in late pregnancy. Early research suggests that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine by mouth daily during the last 3 months of pregnancy reduces lower back pain, hip joint pain, pelvic pain, and pain due to varicose veins or calf cramps.
  • Pelvic pain in women. There is early evidence that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth might help reduce pelvic pain in women with endometriosis or severe menstrual cramps.
  • Problems with sexual function. Early research suggests that taking a combination product containing a standardized extract of maritime pine bark, L-arginine, L-citrulline, and rose hip extract daily for 8 weeks can help improve sexual function in women.
  • Improving symptoms of lupus (SLE). Early research suggests that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark by mouth reduces symptoms of SLE in some patients.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Early research suggests that taking a standardized extract of maritime pine bark nymouth reduces ringing in the ears.
  • Stroke prevention.
  • Muscle soreness.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate maritime pine for these uses.

How does it work?

Maritime pine contains substances that might improve blood flow. It might also stimulate the immune system, reduce swelling, prevent infections, and have antioxidant effects.

Are there safety concerns?

A standardized extract of maritime pine bark (Pycnogenol, Horphag Research) is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in doses of 50 mg to 450 mg daily for up to one year, and when applied to the skin as a cream for up to 7 days or as a powder for up to 6 weeks. It may can cause dizziness, stomach problems, headache, mouth sores, and bad breath.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Early research suggests that a standardized extract of maritime pine bark (Pycnogenol, Horphag Research) is POSSIBLY SAFE when used in late pregnancy. However, until more is known, it should be used cautiously or avoided by women who are pregnant.

There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking maritime pine products if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: A standardized extract of maritime pine bark (Pycnogenol, Horphag Research) is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth, short-term.

"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Maritime pine might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it's best to avoid using maritime pine..

Bleeding conditions: In theory, high doses of maritime pine might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding conditions.

Diabetes: In theory, high doses of maritime pine might decrease blood sugar too much in people with diabetes.

Hepatitis: In theory, taking maritime pine might worsen liver function in people with hepatitis.

Surgery: Maritime pine might slow blood clotting and reduce blood sugar. There is some concern that it might cause blood sugar to go too low and increase the chance of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using maritime pine at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Maritime pine might decrease blood sugar levels. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking maritime pine along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to be too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others. The mechanism of action is unclear.
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)
Maritime pine seems to increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system, maritime pine might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.

Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Maritime pine might slow blood clotting. Taking maritime pine along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Maritime pine might lower blood glucose levels. Using it with other herbs or supplements that have the same effect might cause blood sugar levels to drop too low. Some herbs and supplements that can lower blood sugar include alpha-lipoic acid, chromium, devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, Siberian ginseng, and others.
Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Using maritime pine along with herbs that can slow blood clotting could increase the risk of bleeding in some people. These herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, and others.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • Allergies: 50 mg of a standardized maritime pine bark extract has been used twice daily starting 5 weeks before allergy season.
  • Asthma: 1 mg of a standardized maritime pine bark extract per pound of body weight, up to a maximum of 200 mg/day, has been given in two divided doses for one month. Also, 50 mg of the same extract has been used twice daily for 6 months.
  • Athletic performance: 100-200 mg a standardized maritime pine bark extract has been used daily for 1-2 months.
  • Circulation problems: 45-360 mg of a standardized maritime pine bark extract has been taken daily in up to three divided doses for 3-12 weeks.
  • Improving mental function: 150 mg of a standardized maritime pine bark extract has been used daily for 3 months.
  • Diseases of the retina in the eye: 50 mg of a standardized maritime pine bark extract has been used three times daily for 2 months.
CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:
  • Asthma: 1 mg of a standardized maritime pine bark extract per pound of body weight has been taken in two divided doses for 3 months by children and adolescents aged 6-18 years.

Other names

Condensed Tannins, Écorce de Pin, Écorce de Pin Maritime, Extrait d'Écorce de Pin, French Marine Pine Bark Extract, French Maritime Pine Bark Extract, Leucoanthocyanidins, Maritime Bark Extract, Oligomères de Procyanidine, Oligomères Procyanidoliques, Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins, OPC, OPCs, PCO, PCOs, Pine Bark, Pine Bark Extract, Pinus pinaster, Pinus maritima, Proanthocyanidines Oligomériques, Procyanidin Oligomers, Procyanodolic Oligomers, Pycnogenol, Pycnogénol, Pygenol, Tannins Condensés.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

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Last reviewed - 08/16/2018