Pine bark extract (pycnogenol) is another in a long line of male enhancement ingredients that claims it can help to boost your testosterone levels. But is that actually true? Can it really boost testosterone production or is it just another pill that lacks the science to back up its claims?
In this article, we shall explore the idea of pine bark and testosterone, and will examine its many pycnogenol benefits. More importantly, we shall uncover the truth behind its bold claims…
What is Pine Bark Extract?
Pine bark extract (popularly traded under the name of Pycnogenol) is an extract taken from the inner bark of the Pinus Pinaster tree. It is well-known for being a rich and natural source for numerous bioactive compounds, phenolic acids, bioflavonoids and antioxidants, including proanthocyanidins and catechins which make up to 75-80% of its weight.
Now, Pycnogenol has been linked to many treatments – heart health being one of them. Yet this versatile extract is mostly marketed as a product that can assist with muscle soreness, poor circulation, osteoarthritis, ADHD, skin problems, menopause, chronic venous insufficiency, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, sports stamina, inflammation, diabetes and tinnitus (ringing you sometimes hear in your ears).
In fact, its high antioxidant content means it can help to repair tissues; increase Vitamin C absorption and reduce the impact of oxidative stress on your body (primarily on your circulation) because it is able to scavenge for free radicals.
Similarly, the presence of proanthocyanidins means you can benefit from its antibacterial, antiviral, anticarcinogenic, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.
However, the one we’re most interested in today is its ability to boost testosterone levels. Can it really help to elevate your T levels? Let’s find out…
Health benefits of pine bark
Okay, we now know that when it comes to the pine bark extract vs pycnogenol debate, they are basically the same thing – only marketed/branded differently. Yet how do they work? What pine bark extract benefits can you expect?
Below, is just a number of the pycnogenol benefits you can enjoy:
Reduced risk of heart disease/strokes – by inhibiting lipid peroxidation, platelet aggregation and capillary stability, whilst also affecting your enzyme systems. In addition, it has been celebrated for its ability to reduce high blood pressure, inflammation and other problems that can increase your chances of developing heart disease.
Improved diabetes – pine bark extract may be able to lower blood glucose levels. During a study by the Chinese Medical Science Research Institute, when the 77 male participants (with Type 2 Diabetes) were given 100mg of pycnogenol a day for 12 weeks (alongside continued anti-diabetic treatments), the extract helped to significantly lower their blood glucose levels and improve their endothelial function (compared to those given the placebo). In a separate small study on 48 people (who had Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure); when given this extract every day for 12 weeks, it caused significant improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. NOTE: this extract has also been found to improve the vision of those with early stage diabetic retinopathy (which can lead to blindness due to leaking blood vessels damaging your retina) by stimulating circulation in your retina and preventing swelling.
Prevents hearing loss and improves balance – ear poisoning (ototoxicity) can happen when you’re exposed to chemicals such as cisplatin. This can damage your inner ear impairing your balance and hearing (by sending signals to your brain). Studies suggest pine bark extract may be able to alleviate these symptoms due to its high antioxidant content – making it an ideal ear infection remedy.
Fights off infections – numerous reviews of this extract into its effects on pseudomonas infectious wounds (often seen in hospitals or on people with weak immune systems – after surgery), staph infections and E. coli have found that its antibacterial properties can help stave off infections (as it helped to inhibit their growth). It was particularly effective at preventing infections and showing anti-pseudomonas activity.
Protects your skin (from UV exposure) – once more this antioxidant dynamo has been revealed to offer users beautiful skin by protecting it from the damaging effects of the Sun’s rays (UV). It achieves this by offering your skin photoprotection, as well as reducing the hyperpigmentation of your skin (by improving the functionality of your skin barrier and extracellular matrix homeostasis).
Decreased Erectile Dysfunction – according to a Japanese study, taking a combination of pycnogenol and L-arginine may help to reduce symptoms of erectile dysfunction. When given to 47 participants (with mild erectile dysfunction), after 8-16 weeks it helped to elevate sperm concentrations, as well as improve the quality of their orgasms. Similarly, its knack for boosting blood flow and nitric oxide production can help you to stay harder for longer. In fact, studies have shown that 92.5% of participants experienced normal erections after 3 months.
Reduced inflammation – pine bark extracts rich antioxidant content can help to scavenge damaging free radicals helping to decrease inflammation. During a study on patients who’d undergone abdominal surgery, when they were given pycnogenol for 10 days it helped to enhance their healing/recovery time as it proved effective against surgery related lesions.
Boosts athletic performance – research implies pine bark extract can increase an athlete’s physical endurance by increasing serum NAD+ levels. In addition, pycnogenol can alleviate oxidative stress and inflammation; increase recovery time, and reduce cramping and muscle pain.
Relieve menopausal symptoms – this is achieved through a combination of pine bark extracts antioxidant properties and its ability to improve the functionality of the endothelium (the thin membrane found inside your heart). By increasing the availability of nitric oxide, this helps to improve circulation whilst maintaining vascular homeostasis.
Chronic venous insufficiency – studies have found that pycnogenol can reduce swelling and pain within people suffering from this condition by improving circulation and ensuring that blood flows are efficiently returned from your legs to your heart.
Tinnitus – if you’re unfamiliar with this one, Tinnitus is triggered by low/high blood pressure, and is when you can hear continuous noise or ringing in your ears. Pine bark extract was found in one 6 month study to make 45% of participants completely asymptomatic after 3 months, compared to 23% of controls. In addition, it bolstered better blood flow.
Skin – pine bark extract is believed to increase collagen and hyaluronic acid production which can help to hydrate your skin, improve elasticity and keep you looking youthful.
Respiratory issues – taking 100mg of pycnogenol a day for 6 months has been found to assist asthmatic patients and reduce their medication. In addition, in just 8 weeks it improved their blood flow and blood pressure.
Can pine bark increase your testosterone?
We’ve talked a lot about pycnogenol benefits, but what about pine bark and testosterone? Is there a positive link?
Well, there is no denying that this extract crops up a lot in male enhancement supplements, so its presence would suggest that it is able to help. But let’s take a closer look and see if any of it is true…
Now, the purpose behind most male enhancement supplements is to help bolster testosterone (an androgenic hormone). And this is an important job as healthy testosterone levels are essential for strength, muscle mass development, optimal body composition, endurance, energy, libido and a balanced sex drive.
As we mentioned earlier, there are multiple studies pointing towards pine bark extracts’ ability to reduce symptoms of erectile dysfunction, and as a result of this, this ingredient is fairly common in male enhancement products.
YET, in all of these studies on its impact on erectile dysfunction; none actually measured its role in testosterone production. And the ones that have? Well, the relationship between pine bark and testosterone hasn’t been promising; weak at best.
A Japanese study that gave participants 60mg of pine bark extract a day (with l- arginine and D-aspartic acid) saw improvements to ED after 8 weeks, but only a small, statistically insignificant boost in testosterone. NOTE: researchers believe it was the presence of D-aspartic acid (a known testosterone booster) that enabled pine bark extract to raise their T levels.
A study published in BJU International in 2010, measured the pine bark and testosterone relationship. Of the 124 patients (aged 30-50 years old) given pink bark and arginine over 6 months; they saw testosterone improvements of 15.9nmol/L to 18.9nmol/L. NOTE: given the youthful age of the participants – and the length of the study – this T level increase is considered quite low. Similarly, the presence of other nutrients makes it difficult to determine how much of these gains came from pine bark extract.
There are NO human studies in existence that have tested the reliability of pine bark extract to boost testosterone levels without the assistance of other nutrients. This makes it hard to determine if this extract can boost testosterone.
So what does this all mean? Well, whilst it is clear that pine bark extract can definitely help to improve your health in a number of different ways. This lack of scientific evidence between pine bark and testosterone means you cannot reliably trust it to help you in this particular area.
If anything, its presence in testosterone boosters is more of an assistive role due to its ability to increase your physical performance/endurance and blood flows, as well as alleviate symptoms of ED (two areas of which are often negatively affected by drops in testosterone).
Possible side effects of Pycnogenol
Whilst many of the studies we have listed above have shown no indication that pycnogenol can cause any major side effects; it has been linked to the following issues which you should take into consideration before trying:
Fatigue/low energy levels (when used to treat ADHD)
Sores in mouth
Blood thinners – if you use these, DO NOT take pine bark extract unless your doctor has approved it.
Increased blood pressure – this only occurs if you have hypertension and take pycnogenol and Vitamin C supplements at the same time.
There are instances where you should avoid taking pine bark extract altogether – if you’re a child, pregnant, a nursing mum or if you’ve got medical conditions i.e. autoimmune disease (as it may stimulate your immune system) or a bleeding disorder. Although considered safe, it may interfere with certain drugs used in chemotherapy, radiotherapy or diabetes (as it lowers blood sugar).
How to use pine bark extract?
Pine bark extract/pycnogenol traditionally comes in three forms: liquid, tablet or capsule form. Yet it can also be found in creams, lotions and ointments (with 0.5-2% concentration).
The amount you need will depend on your needs. For instance:
3 xt 50mg tablets (taken in the morning) has been found to be useful for treating retinopathy in those with diabetes
100mg dose a day can help to lower your blood sugar levels
45- 360mg a day can improve your circulation (or 50-100mg three times a day)
2 x 50mg a day can help with allergies
200mg a day can help reduce mild high blood pressure
200mg a day can improve your physical endurance and capabilities.
Now, to keep your body safe, we recommend following the dosage instructions on the label and listening to your doctor. They’ll be able to tell you an accurate dosage to suit your requirements.
It is clear that pine bark extract does have a lot to offer. The fact that it is so rich in antioxidants means you can enjoy numerous pycnogenol benefits – improved sexual function, physical performance, diabetes, heart health, skin etc.
Yet, can pycnogenol really help to raise your testosterone levels? That one is hard to confirm, as it has never been tested on its own to see if there is a connection. To date it has only been used to support other well-known testosterone boosters.
For that reason, we recommend sticking with proven testosterone boosters such as TestoGen. Naturally formulated and ram-packed with high quality ingredients; every element of this formulation has been designed to boost natural testosterone production and ensure that your sexual and physical health remain in tip top condition.