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What Are the Dangers of Pycnogenol?

author image Allison Adams
Allison Adams has worked as a registered dietitian since 1996. She began writing professionally in 2000, with work featured in a variety of medical publications such as "Women's Health Magazine" and the "New England Journal of Medicine." Adams holds a Master of Science in nutrition and food sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
What Are the Dangers of Pycnogenol?
Man too dizzy to drive. Photo Credit: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images

Pycnogenol is a substance taken from the pine bark of trees found in the southwest region of France. Pycnogenol has several benefits to your health and beauty. However, it is also important to see beyond the pyncogenol marketing campaign and understand the possible dangers associated with this natural supplement.

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Pycnogenol and Your Blood

According to the National Institute of Health, studies have shown that pycnogenol extract improves circulation. This benefit can help people with cold hands or those with a tendency to bruise easily. Further studies by the National Institute of Health show pycnogenol can also act as an anticoagulant. This means that it makes it more difficult for blood to clot. While this may help prevent a stroke, it can also be very dangerous if you have bleeding disorders and it can even increase the risk of hemorrhaging.

Dosage Concerns

While some people take this herb to feel more alert and energized, you need to take care not to take too much pycnogenol. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, some people taking pycnogenol report difficulty falling asleep at night. Other reported side effects include dizziness, headaches, upset stomach and nausea. The National Health Institute recommends not taking pycnogenol for more than six months or in quantities that exceed 450 mg per day.

Allergic Reactions

According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, pycnogenol also shows effectiveness in treating allergies, and some people take it before the onset of allergy season. For some, however, pyncogenol is actually an allergen. Some rare and possibly fatal allergies can develop for people taking pycnogenol. Signs of an allergic reaction to pcynogenol mimic typical allergy symptoms including wheezing or shortness of breath, rash, chest pain, and swelling of body parts including the face, hands or feet. To avoid potential allergic reactions to this drug, you should take pycnogenol under the supervision of a medical professional.

Interaction with Medications

One of the reported benefits of pycnogenol is that it boosts the immune system. However, this quality also means that it can cause harmful interactions with some other medications, such as immunosuppressant drugs. These are commonly referred to as anti-rejection drugs, and they are taken following organ transplants to aid your body in accepting the new organ. Be sure to consult a medical professional and inform them of any other drugs you currently take prior to taking pycnogenol.

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