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What is Pine Bark Extract?

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  • Written By: Nick Doniger
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Pine bark extract is a dietary supplement that may aid in preventing or suppressing serious diseases and conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, circulatory disease and diabetes. When taken in conjunction with a healthy routine of diet and exercise, it may provide relief for several other potentially less serious ailments as well. Though many of its benefits require further studies from the scientific and medical communities, the extract has been proven to be a potent antioxidant.

Pine bark extract has been used as folk medicine throughout history by Europeans, native Americans and Asians. During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, some small group studies were conducted to support medical use of the extract, and thereby advance its reputation beyond being merely a holistic supplement. Larger human studies are needed, however, in order to prove many of its supposed health benefits, particularly those pertaining to serious diseases and conditions.

Discussion has taken place in the medical community regarding the relationship between vitamin C, vitamin E and pine bark extract. The extract, like vitamins C and E, acts as an antioxidant in the human body, preventing cell damage from free radicals. Advocates of pine bark extract believe that its antioxidant effect may even be more potent than that of either vitamin. It additionally may prolong the effects of vitamin C in the body.

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The extract may also promote blood circulation benefits by controlling the effects of nitric oxide in the body. While nitric oxide is essential in a healthy immune system, too much may be harmful to proper blood flow, as it causes blood vessels to dilate. Chemicals found in pine bark extract constrict blood vessels and suppress the over-production of nitric oxide. The extract additionally is believed to reduce swelling in patients with a circulation disorder known as chronic venous insufficiency.

Most pine bark extract is obtained from the bark of the maritime pine tree, which is native to western Mediterranean soil. The bark contains both the chemical proanthocyanidins and plant compounds known as flavonoids, which are believed to give the extract its powerful antioxidant effect. Some brands of pine bark extract supplements may use different types of pine bark in production.

The extract is generally available in capsule or tablet form, with varying strengths and dosing directions. Dosing often changes after an initial three-week regimen, though the patient's reason for taking the supplement may affect how much is taken. While considered safe, some consumers have reported headaches and nausea after taking such supplements. As the substance is not meant to replace other drugs or treatments for the ailments it may aid in suppressing, it is recommended that a physician or pharmacist is consulted before beginning a pine bark extract regimen.

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