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Maritime pine trees (Pinus pinaster) grow in countries on the Mediterranean Sea. Its bark may be helpful for asthma and improved leg circulation.

Maritime pine contains chemicals that might improve blood flow, stimulate the immune system, reduce swelling, prevent infections, and have antioxidant effects. Maritime pine trees that grow in southwest France are used to make Pycnogenol, the trademarked name for a specific maritime pine bark extract.

Maritime pine bark extract is used for asthma, high cholesterol, decline in memory, ADHD, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

Natural Medicines 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.
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  • Asthma.  Oral maritime pine bark extract, taken as an adjunct to conventional asthma medications, may improve symptoms and reduce rescue inhaler use in patients with asthma.
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  • Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).  Oral maritime pine bark extract may improve leg pain and heaviness and reduce edema in patients with CVI.
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  • Osteoarthritis.  Small clinical studies suggest that oral maritime pine bark extract may modestly improve symptoms and reduce the need for analgesics in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
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When taken by mouth: A specific maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) is possibly safe when taken in doses of 50-450 mg daily for up to one year. It might cause dizziness and stomach problems in some people.

When applied to the skin: A specific maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) is possibly safe when used as a cream for up to 7 days or as a powder for up to 6 weeks.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy: Taking a specific maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) is possibly safe when used in late pregnancy. But until more is known, it should be used cautiously or avoided during pregnancy.

Breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if maritime pine is safe to use when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: A specific maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) is possibly safe to take by mouth for up to 3 months in children 6-18 years of age.

"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: Taking high doses of maritime pine might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding conditions.

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.

Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Pycnogenol seems to increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system pycnogenol 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.

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar: Maritime pine might lower blood sugar. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, chromium, and prickly pear cactus.
Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting: Maritime pine might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might increase the risk of bleeding in some people. Examples of supplements with this effect include garlic, ginger, ginkgo, nattokinase, and Panax ginseng.

There are no known interactions with foods.

Maritime pine bark extract has most often been used by adults at a dose of 50 mg, taken 2-3 times daily, for up to one year. It's also used in various products, including creams and topical powders. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

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