Pine bark extract from the French maritime pine tree improves hair density and may reduce hair loss, offering hope to the millions of women affected by thinning hair
About 23% of women between the ages of 40 and 49 experience mild hair loss. This percentage increases with age, as menopause leads to a number of hormonal changes that affect hair growth rate and diameter.
Thinning hair is especially common among postmenopausal women, with an estimated 21 million U.S. women affected.[i] It’s possible to maintain thick, healthy hair at any age, however, and pine bark extract from the French maritime pine tree may help.
Rich in procyanidins, bioflavonoids and phenolic acids, pine bark has been researched for at least 165 diseases. You can read about them in detail at GreenMedInfo.com’s pine bark research database.
Pine Bark Improves Hair Density
A study in postmenopausal women looked into the effects of Pycnogenol, brand name for a proprietary pine bark extract, on hair density, scalp microcirculation and other physiological parameters of the skin.[ii] Digital photographs were used to assess hair density.
Women were assigned to groups taking either Pycnogenol — 50 milligrams (mg) three times a day — or a placebo for six months. Those taking Pycnogenol experienced significantly increased hair density, including a 30% increase — from 225.8 hairs/cm2 to 293.6 hairs/cm2 — after two months of pine bark supplementation[iii] and a 23% boost after six months.
The effect was associated with a decrease in resting flux — a measure of blood volume variations — of the scalp skin, which suggests it may have improved microcirculation.
“A significant transient decrease of transepidermal water loss,” a measure of skin barrier function, was also observed in scalp skin among women taking Pycnogenol. The study concluded that intake of pine bark extract could potentially reduce hair loss in postmenopausal women. Study author Dr. Fred Pescatore explained in a news release:[iv]
“Scalp hair density often decreases with age, leading to a heightened perception of hair thinning. Poor hair quality can have a significant psychological impact and may even lead to increased anxiety and depression.
For women seeking hair health support and those frustrated by hair loss during menopause or a continued pattern of hair thinning, this study reveals a new application for an ingredient that has proven antioxidant and circulatory benefits, in addition to its already established benefits in menopause and skin care.”
An animal study previously found that pine bark extract reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enhanced levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines in hair follicles, while leading to a significant increase in hair growth.[v] The researchers suggested the extract may be useful for both hair loss prevention and promotion of hair growth.
Pine Bark Is Revered for Circulatory Benefits
Part of pine bark’s benefits to hair density may be due to increases in microcirculation. As such, support for chronic venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins is another area where pine bark shines. In a study of 142 people with chronic venous insufficiency, Pycnogenol at a dose of 150 mg a day for eight weeks significantly improved microcirculation and variations in capillary filtration associated with swelling.[vi]
Pycnogenol was also effective in improving varicose veins in postpartum women. After six months of taking Pycnogenol at a dose of 100 mg a day, there was a significant improvement in varicose veins and a decreased need for sclerotherapy, surgery or other treatments. Even spider veins decreased.[vii]
In addition to improving signs and symptoms of postpartum varicose veins, the researchers noted, it appears “venous function and shape seem to return faster to prepartum, physiological pattern” with use of Pycnogenol.
Pine Bark for Your Heart, Sexual Health, Skin and More
While pine bark intake is well-known for its benefits to circulation, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, it may also benefit heart health. Among people with coronary artery disease, for instance, Pycnogenol intake improved endothelial function, leading to an increase in flow mediated dilation after eight weeks.[viii]
It’s also useful for supporting cardiometabolic health, leading to reductions in fasting blood glucose, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol, while increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol.[ix] Further, pine bark deserves special mention for its potential to help:
- Aging skin — Pine bark extract helps reduce the damage ultraviolet radiation causes to the skin. It also led to clinically significant improvements in photodamaged skin when used for 12 weeks.[x]
- Erectile dysfunction — Pine bark extract improved erectile dysfunction by 45% among men with erectile dysfunction and diabetes.[xi] When used in combination with saw palmetto and saffron, pine bark extract also led to significantly improved sexual function and urinary symptoms in people aged 40 to 60.[xii]
- Brain health — Pycnogenol has positive effects in people with mild cognitive impairment, likely due to its benefits to oxidative stress levels.[xiii] It improves cognitive function in adults between the ages of 55 and 70,[xiv] while, even among students, pine bark extract may improve cognitive function, attention and mental performance.[xv]
More Natural Strategies for Hair Loss
If you’re looking for natural ways to slow hair loss or improve hair density, pine bark is a solid option that may offer additional systemic health benefits. However, the underlying causes can be complex and are best targeted in partnership with a holistic health care practitioner.
At GreenMedInfo.com’s hair loss research database, you can learn about 49 natural compounds to support healthy hair growth, from probiotics and ginseng to EGCG and Japanese cypress.
[i] Health Sci Rep. 2023 Jan; 6(1): e1045. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9817492/
[ii] Health Sci Rep. 2023 Jan; 6(1): e1045. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9817492/
[iii] Yahoo February 1, 2023 https://www.yahoo.com/now/study-pycnogenol-shown-improve-hair-181700163.html
[iv] Yahoo February 1, 2023 https://www.yahoo.com/now/study-pycnogenol-shown-improve-hair-181700163.html
[v] Mol Med Rep. 2022 Mar; 25(3): 100. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8822878/
[vi] Minerva Cardioangiol. 2019 Aug ;67(4):280-287. PMID: 31347820 /article/chronic-venous-insufficiency-and-venous-microangiopathy-management-compression
[vii] Int J Angiol. 2017 Mar; 26(1): 12–19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5330748/
[viii] Health Sci Rep. 2023 Jan; 6(1): e1045. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9817492/
[ix] Pharmacol Res. 2019 Oct 1:104472. Epub 2019 Oct 1. PMID: 31585179 /article/meta-analysis-suggests-pycnogenol-may-have-role-preventing-cardiometabolic-dis
[x] Clin Interv Aging. 2012 ;7:275-86. Epub 2012 Jul 27. PMID: 22956863 /article/oral-administration-french-maritime-pine-bark-extract-flavangenol-improves-cli
[xi] Bratisl Lek Listy. 2019 ;120(12):941-944. PMID: 31855055 /article/administration-pycnogenol-leads-improvement-erectile-function-patients-diabete
[xii] Minerva Urol Nefrol. 2016 Sep 1. Epub 2016 Aug 1. PMID: 27583656 /article/pine-bark-extract-saffron-saw-palmetto-three-months-significantly-improved-sex
[xiii] J Neurosurg Sci. 2018 Jun ;62(3):279-284. PMID: 29754480 /article/pycnogenol-has-shown-large-number-positive-effects-subjects-initial-cognitive-
[xiv] J Neurosurg Sci. 2015 Dec ;59(4):437-46. PMID: 26635191 /article/pycnogenol-supplementation-12-months-appears-improve-cognitive-function-and-ox
[xv] Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep ;53(3 Suppl 1):75-82. PMID: 22108481 /article/pycnogenol-supplementation-improves-cognitive-function-attention-and-mental-pe