Antioxidant derived from the bark of the French Maritime pine tree. The term pycnogenol was previously used generically, but is now a U.S.-registered trademark. Only one company (Horphag Research, Ltd.) has access to this ingredient, and it is patent-protected.
There is a great deal of research on pycnogenol. However, most of the research dates back to 1990 and earlier (Source: U.S. Patent No. 4,698,360 entitled “Plant Extract with a Proanthocyanidins Content as Therapeutic Agent Having Radical Scavenging Effect and Use Thereof”). Prior to and even after pycnogenol was trademarked, it was used freely as a generic term for procyanidins. Procyanidins (also known as proanthocyanidins) are pigments belonging to the flavonoid family of ingredients. In addition to being derived from pine bark, procyanidins occur naturally in grape seeds (so red wine is a good source), peanut skins, unripe strawberries, apples, and cocoa beans.
There are studies supporting the notion that pycnogenol is a potent antioxidant with strong free-radical-scavenging properties (Source: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 1999, pages 704–724). The most recent studies examined the effect of pycnogenol when taken as an oral supplement for various conditions, most often circulation problems (Sources: Angiology, October–November 2006, pages 569–576; and Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis, April 2006, pages 205–212). However, there is no research showing that it can have any effect on wrinkles (Source: Dermatologic Surgery, July 2005, pages 873–880).