Pycnogenol: What the Heck It Is, and Why You May Want to Win Some

Hint: it comes from here.

Yes, this is indeed another review/giveaway post. But I realize it might take a little bit of explaining to get you all pumped up to win a 12 week supply of...

Pine bark pills.

But wait, don't go away!  These are "French Maritime" pine bark capsules! Doesn't that sound a bit more jaunty? Picture 'em sauntering around in sailor suits eating croissants and smoking Gauloises if that makes them sound more intriguing.

Does that help?
(Image swiped from La Maison Boheme)

Actually, there's a fair amount of research that supports a long list of potential health and cosmetic benefits for pine bark supplements. Part of the reason I took on this review/giveaway is that I was greedy to try some free for myself.

So, are you curious about what pycnogenol does, why it's awesome, and how you can win some? (And folks from Canada and Europe are eligible to win too for a change!)

I got a nifty press kit with all kinds of research on the benefits of pycnogenol, and the studies look pretty darn official and persuasive. But the problem? You'd have to come over to my house to read them yourself. I was hoping to link to the research library over at the pycnogneol website, because there's no way in hell I'm retyping a whole thick stack of studies.  But guess what?  It seems to be undergoing construction and making it extremely hard for lazy bloggers to just link over. UPDATE! It's apparently only the U.S. site that's still under construction, and there is tons of lovely pycnogenol research at their international website. Plus there's the stodgy government National Institutes of Health site MedlinePlus, which also has an impressive list of possible pycnogenol health benefits. However, they are a bit more cautious in their endorsement of the stuff.

Or heck, you can skip the actual research and just take a little informative quiz!

1. What is Pycnogenol?

a) A super antioxidant, natural anti-inflammatory which selectively binds to collagen and elastin and aids in the production of endothelial nitric oxide which helps to vasodilate blood vessels;

b) A potent recreational drug which will cause you to see purple iguanas crawling out of people's ears;

c) A placebo made of powdered Kool-Aid and pine scented air-freshener as an elaborate prank to fool greedy unsuspecting health bloggers; or

d) A large anal suppository noted for its ability to raise your speaking and singing voice 3 octaves higher.

2. Which one of the following health or cosmetic benefits is Pycnogenol supplementation NOT associated with in at least some study or other?

a) Asthma and allergy relief;
b) Increasing skin elasticity, smoothness and wrinkle reduction;
c) Lowering blood pressure;
d) Improvements in cardiovascular health;
e) Reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis;
f) Improved cognitive function;
g) Reducing pelvic pain and menstrual disorders;
h) Fighting diabetes;
i) Lowering inflammation;
j) Reducing tinnitus (ringing in the ears);
k) Fighting varicose veins;
l) Increasing athletic endurance;
m) Enabling time travel up to 500 years forwards or backwards;
n) Reducing circulation problems like leg pain and fluid retention;
o) Treating retinal disease;
p) Improving joint health.

3. Possible Side Effects of Pycnogenol May Include:

a) the sudden appearance of extra toes or fingers;
b) a boost to the immune system, which can be problematic for auto-immune disorders; dizziness; gut problems; headache; and mouth ulcers;
c)  a French accent;
d)  invisibility.

Answers: 1: a; 2: m; and 3: b... but you knew that!

What Did Crabby Notice Most From Trying Pycnogenol for 12 weeks?

It was actually first pitched as a way to "maintain beautiful skin from the inside out." Which sort of assumes you have beautiful skin to maintain in the first place. Sadly, after 5 decades of playing out in the sun, that's not what I'm starting with. Can't say I noticed a huge difference, but maybe a bit more color? I will spare you before and after photos, mostly because I forgot to take any.

However, during the testing period I found it noticeably easier and easier to extend the duration of my cardio workouts, even at a challenging intensity! The whole "increasing athletic endurance" was definitely true in my case. Was it due to the pycnogenol or some other aspect of my ever-changing routine? I have to confess I was not the least scientific about my personal experimentation. During the same period I also switched up my method of HIIT, started eating nutritional yeast, discovered mushroom powder, and had a bikini wax. So it remains unclear the exact cause of my newfound ability to dance around like an absolute ass on the elliptical machine for twice as long. But I'm superstitious enough not to want to abandon the pycnogenol at this point.

And reading the research, there were so many potential health benefits to this stuff and no side effects that were relevant to me, so it seemed a reasonable thing to keep taking just on general principle. Plus it's not outrageously expensive or anything.

So, would you like to win some stuff that might get you glowy skin, super-endurance, relief from a bunch of nagging health problems? Just leave a comment below! I'll announce the random winner in a week. Be sure to check back before the end of the day Wednesday Feb 15th to claim your prize or a new random drawing will be held.

Do you guys have any favorite supplements? Or do you try to get everything you need from your healthy diet?

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