The healing power of maritime pine

This straight pine originally occurs in the west of the Mediterranean, in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy and in the North African countries of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. In South Africa the tree was planted for commercial reasons and you now see it everywhere. The maritime pine can grow 20 to 35 meters high. The wood from this tree can be used to make various products. In addition to the wood, the bark is useful because it contains many oligomeric procyanides. These substances have all kinds of medicinal qualities. It is especially good for the strength of blood vessels and capillaries. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of maritime pine / Source: Aylmer Bourke Lambert (1761–1842), Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Contents:

  • Healthy bark
  • Pycnogenol in neurodegenerative diseases
  • Scientifically proven effects
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Maritime pine, good for the blood vessels
  • Maritime pine bark for capillary problems
  • Dose and safety

Healthy bark

Maritime pine has a bark that contains many antioxidants. The bark can be prepared as a tea. In European folk medicine, maritime pine bark tea was sometimes served to prevent scurvy. Today you can buy a standardized extract called pycnogenol. This is also the name of the most powerful antioxidant in the bark of the maritime pine. Pycnogenol has a synenergetic effect with vitamins A and E and with the carotenoid lutein. This means that pycnogenol strengthens the effect of these substances many times over. This has a beneficial effect on the entire body.

Pycnogenol in neurodegenerative diseases

Pycnogenol can prevent and cure neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases. Perhaps not on its own, but in combination with ginkgo biloba, according to scientific research. Like many other diseases, degenerative diseases of the brain are caused by inflammation at the cellular level and can be counteracted by consuming plenty of antioxidant-rich foods or preparations.

Scientifically proven effects

All kinds of positive effects have been measured from pycnogenol. The drug has been extensively scientifically researched. A meta-study identified a large number of diseases that could be treated or prevented with pynogenol. This generally proves that it is good to eat antioxidants in fruit and vegetables. Pycnogenol can be used as a supplement if you have an illness, especially because it boosts the intake of antioxidants such as vitamins A and C and because it contains many oligomeric proantocyanides. In addition to its antioxidant effect, pycnogenol has bactericidal and virus-killing properties. In addition, it has strong anti-inflammatory properties. The diseases that, according to scientific research, pycnogenol would generally help with are:

Pinus pinaster / Source: Drow male, Wikimedia Commons (GFDL)

  • Heart and vascular disease,
  • menstrual problems,
  • Pain during childbirth,
  • Allergy,
  • Asthma,
  • Metabolic syndrome, diabetes,
  • Diseases of the blood vessels.

Naming

In Latin, maritime pine is called Pinus pinaster . The name pinus is given to many pine species. Etymologically speaking, Pinus probably has something to do with ‘pin’, which means needle in French. After all, it is a coniferous tree, a tree with needles instead of leaves. Pinaster is a combination of pinus and aster which literally means ‘imitation of a pine tree’. The tree is called ‘maritime pine’ in Dutch because it mainly grows by the sea.

Active substances

The bark of the maritime pine is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. This contains the following medicinal substances: Oligomeric proanthocyanides or OPCs and other bioflavonoids such as phenolic acid. The OPCs of the maritime pine are also called pycnogenols.

Maritime pine, good for the blood vessels

In phytotherapy, the broad healing spectrum that maritime pine has to offer is not used. This is mainly because most medicinal qualities have been known for less than 10 years and people first want to see whether it can actually offer benefits in practice. However, it has been known in phytotherapy for some time that antioxidants and high concentrations of OPCs have positive effects on blood vessels and capillaries. The vein wall is protected against free radicals. In addition, the connective tissue of the vein wall is strengthened. The blood vessels become smoother, stronger and more elastic, which has a distinctly positive effect on blood flow and circulation in general.

Maritime pine bark for capillary problems

If the strength of the capillaries leaves something to be desired, maritime pine bark is an excellent remedy. A disadvantage to using maritime pine bark is that it takes several weeks before it works. On the other hand, there are few to no side effects and maritime pine bark tea can be taken for a long time. In phytotherapy it is used for the following indications:

  • Fragile capillaries,
  • Hematomas,
  • Diabetic retinopathy or retinal damage,
  • Cold feet,
  • Chronic venous insufficiency or poor venous blood circulation,
  • Varicose veins,
  • Hemorrhoids,
  • Poorly healing skin of the lower legs,
  • Varicose ulcers,
  • Nocturnal calf cramps,
  • Restless legs or restless legs,
  • Swollen and tense legs,
  • Burning and stinging legs.

Dose and safety

Ask your herbalist or GP about the correct way of dosing. In general, the bark extract must provide 110 to 150 mg of OPC per day to be effective. This drug is safe when used at this dosage. There have been rare cases of nausea when taken on an empty stomach. Pregnant women should only take maritime pine bark tea or a pycnogenol preparation if prescribed by a doctor.

Bark Pinus pinaster / Source: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-3.0)

Some specific dosages per indication are:

  • Anti-inflammatory effect: 30 mg per day.
  • Antioxidant: at least 20 mg per day
  • Asthma: 0.5 mg per kilogram of body weight per day
  • Cardiovascular disease: 25 mg per day
  • Chronic venous insufficiency: 150 to 360 mg per day
  • Osteoarthritis: 100 to 150 mg per day
  • Diabetic retinopathy: 20 to 160 mg per day