What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol® French maritime pine bark extract is extracted from the bark of mono-species pine trees grown exclusively in Les Landes de Gascogne forest in southwest France. The forest is unspoiled and natural, with no pesticides, no herbicides.
The premium quality of Pycnogenol® components comes from the fact the bark is not subject to seasonal variations, unlike other plants, which makes it an ideal botanical source. The extraction process of Pycnogenol® is patented, and complies with the highest quality standards. The manufacturing plant is GMP(1) compliant, and the production process does not include any toxic solvent.
What are the Men’s Health Benefits of Pycnogenol?
Researchers have developed a unique natural strategy for management of erectile dysfunction that includes a blend of Pycnogenol® (French maritime pine bark extract) and L-arginine aspartate, an amino acid chelate; combined with icariin, a flavonoid compound used in Chinese herbal medicine.
The interaction of these three ingredients creates a unique strategy that promises to tackle erectile dysfunction from multiple angles.
The nutrients’ underlying mechanisms of action are innovative yet elegantly simple. Here’s how it works: to get an erection, you need adequate blood flow. This requires the relaxation of the smooth muscle in the arteries of the penis. The chemical compound nitric oxide triggers this process of relaxation, increasing the blood flow to the penis required for an erection.
Endothelial cells are responsible for nitric oxide production. They release nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme that catalyzes the production of nitric oxide from L-arginine. This process is essential to maintaining an erection. Dysfunctional endothelial cells, disabled by plaque buildup, can no longer produce enough of this enzyme.30
How Does Pycnogenol Work?
Pycnogenol® stimulates endothelial nitric oxide synthase to produce nitric oxide in the artery linings from the amino acid L-arginine, yielding sufficient bioactive nitric oxide to maintain an erection.31 At the same time, icariin acts to block the enzyme responsible for causing erections to subside, known as phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5).32
Interestingly, these nutrients not only promote erections, but also enhance male fertility and endo-thelial health. In other words, numerous distinct modes of action work together to produce a broad array of clinically proven health benefits. Meanwhile, prescription erectile dysfunction drugs such as
Viagra® support penile erection primarily by blocking the action of PDE5, without delivering any other benefit.
Pycnogenol® and L-arginine Aspartate: A Clinically Proven, Long-Term Alternative to ED Drugs
The efficacy of Pycnogenol® and L-arginine aspartate has been tested in five independent clinical studies. All of these studies showed that male sexual function was restored during supplementation with these ingredients.33-37 Patients also reported an increase in sexual dreams and fantasies and more frequent morning erections. Their partners noted higher sexual interest and enhanced sexual performance.38
The first clinical trial to report successful treatment of erectile dysfunction with Pycnogenol® and L-arginine aspartate involved 40 men between 25 and 45 years of age suffering from mild ED. After treatment with arginyl aspartate (which provided the equivalent of 1.7 g L-arginine per day) for one month, only 2 patients (5% of all patients) experienced normal erections. During a second month of treatment, 80 mg Pycnogenol® per day was added to the arginine regimen and yielded a significant improvement, with 32 patients (80%) enjoying normal erections. A third month’s treatment with L-arginine, together with an increased amount of Pycnogenol® (120 mg per day), further increased the number of patients with restored normal erectile function. At the end of the trial, 37 patients, equivalent to 92.5% of all participants, achieved normal erectile function.35
A Natural Approach to Erectile Dysfunction
A blend of Pycnogenol® and L-arginine aspartate, combined with icariin, work together to restore healthy endothelial function and promote optimal sexual performance. This nutrient combination promotes healthy erections without the adverse side effects associated with drugs prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction.
Prescription drugs can temporarily restore erectile function for some individuals, but they do not treat chronic endothelial dysfunction, an underlying cause of heart disease, peripheral artery disease, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction.
Five clinical studies have found that Pycnogenol® and L-arginine aspartate work together to restore sexual function, enable erections, boost libido, performance, and sperm motility, viability, and quantity.
Pycnogenol®, L-arginine aspartate, and icariin promote the synthesis of nitric oxide, which is essential for healthy vascular function, providing body-wide benefits.
Icariin herbal extract act as a PDE5-inhibitor, the same mode of action as Viagra®, Cialis®, and Levitra®. Icariin has been shown to enhance the production of nitric oxide in human endothelial cell culture and in animal models, and exhibits testosterone-like activity.
More Clinical Proof…
A second clinical study examined 50 middle-aged men with low testosterone levels who suffered from ED as well as from poor fertility due to impaired sperm motility and morphology.36 Men were given 3 g L-arginine aspartate and 120 mg Pycnogenol® plus 120 mg testosterone undecanoate over a period of 11 months. A statistically significant 76% of men achieved normal sexual function and this effect was sustained during the entire treatment period. The researchers found that this treatment improved sperm quality and quantity at the end of the 1-year treatment and an astounding 40% (20 of 50 patients) achieved fertilization.
A third study—this one a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study—evaluated the effects of Pycnogenol® and L-arginine aspartate on spermatozoa parameters in 50 middle-aged men diagnosed with infertility.37 Investigators found improvement of sperm quality in all participants, with better results in younger men. Study results confirmed that this treatment improved sperm parameters in men with infertility.
A fourth clinical study, which used a randomly allocated, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design, examined 50 middle-aged men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction who were treated for one month with placebo or with Pycnogenol® and L-arginine aspartate.33 Study participants recorded their sexual function/dysfunction in diaries. Investigators monitored testosterone levels and endothelial nitric oxide synthase levels along with routine clinical chemistry. Treatment with Pycnogenol® and L-arginine aspartate for one month restored erectile function to normal, and intercourse frequency doubled. Investigators found that endothelial nitric oxide synthase in spermatozoa and testosterone levels in blood increased significantly, while blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure were lowered.
The fifth clinical study used a randomly allocated, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design.34 It examined 50 infertile men who were treated for one month with placebo or Pycnogenol® and L-arginine aspartate. Investigators tested semen samples at four-week intervals and found that treatment with this formula significantly increased semen volume, concentration of spermatozoa, percentage of motile spermatozoa, and percentage of spermatozoa with normal morphology compared with placebo treatment. Intake of Pycnogenol® and L-arginine aspartate for one month restored the fertility index to normal values. After treatment, the fertility index decreased again to infertile status. No adverse events were reported.
Is Pycnogenol® Safe?
Pycnogenol® is one of the most researched food supplements and has passed extensive safety tests. Toxicity test results demonstrate that Pycnogenol® is safe, even at high doses for long periods of time. To date, no serious adverse side effects are observed or reported in clinical trials. Mild side effects as gastro-intestinal discomfort, headache, nausea and dizziness were seldom reported. Because of its astringent taste, which occasionally causes minor stomach discomfort, it is best to take Pycnogenol® with or after meals. Pycnogenol® is certified kosher, halal and is “self-affirmed” GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe).