There's insufficient evidence to support the use of Pycnogenol, a dietary supplement extracted from French pine bark, to treat certain chronic disorders, according to a review published Wednesday in The Cochrane Library.
Pycnogenol's main ingredient is procyanidin, a powerful antioxidant that's also found in food such as grapes, berries, pomegranates, red wine, and various nuts, according to the report.
Researchers at the Stellenbosch University in South Africa and elsewhere analyzed data from 15 randomized controlled trials—involving a total of 791 subjects—that evaluated Pycnogenol for asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, chronic venous insufficiency (a condition caused by vein blockage or blood leakage), diabetes, erectile dysfunction, hypertension, and osteoarthritis. Two of the studies were conducted exclusively in children; the others involved adults.
Despite the positive results found in some of the trials, the authors reported that they could reach no definite conclusions on Pycnogenol's efficacy due to limitations of the studies. They cited small sample size, limited number of trials per condition, variation in outcome measures, and risk of bias since a majority of the studies they analyzed had been funded by the manufacturer of Pycnogenol.
Bottom line. Well-designed, adequately powered trials are needed to establish the value of Pycnogenol as a treatment for the seven chronic disorders, the researchers concluded.
Pycnogenol for the treatment of chronic disorders [The Cochrane Collaboration]