Maritime Pine trees grow in southwestern France. For centuries locals used its extract as a natural remedy to cure wounds. Later, in the 1940s, a scientist named Jacques Masquelier started exploring the health benefits of pine bark after discovering that North Americans were consuming pine bark tea to treat scurvy and wounds. [Source: Masquelier’s OPCS]
Since then, many studies have investigated the effects of French Maritime Pine Bark extract (also known as Pycnogenol – US registered trademark name). Pine bark extract is also sold under other trademark names. The most common include:
Recent research and studies have shown conclusive evidence that it can also be effective in treating depression.
Benefits of Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Maritime pine bark extract contains health-promoting plant compounds, one of which is polyphenols. Pine bark extract has the following notable polyphenol nutrients:
- Catechins: A antioxidant-like flavonoid family to protect cells from oxidation and free radical damage.
- Procyanidins: A flavonoid that serves as an antioxidant and offers many medicinal properties. All Pycnogenol maritime pine bark extract is standardized to contain at least 75% procyanidins.
- Phenolic acids: A group of polyphenols with high antioxidant activity.
These compounds make the pine bark extract an antioxidant , antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
Thus, Maritime pine bark extract is found to improve physical health and boost overall cognitive performance.Here are a few key health benefits of using Maritime pine bark extract:
- Improved Cardiac Health
A study in 2016 found that 24 high blood pressure patients had improved HDL cholesterol levels and low systolic blood pressure after taking 150 mg Oligopin pine bark every day for five weeks. It also reduces fat buildup, oxidative stress, and the risk of blood clots. [Source: Healthline]
- Improves Asthma
Research shows that Pycnogenol is effective for the prevention and control of allergic asthma.
- Improves Athletic Performance
A study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that Pycnogenol improves athletic performance by boosting muscle performance, increasing endurance, and reducing cramping in recreational athletes and triathletes. [Food Navigator]
It also reduces symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). [Source: PubMed]
- Enhances Cognitive Function
A study published in the Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences reveals that extract from French maritime pine tree bark helps improve memory, attention span, decision-making, and other cognitive functions. 
- Reduces Symptoms Of Depression
A peer-reviewed study of 59 participants (ages 35-55) at Chieti-Pescara University published in 2014 the Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences revealed:
30 participants who took Pycnogenol (50mg/three times a day for 12 weeks) with a controlled health plan (regular sleep, balanced meals, and daily exercise) experienced significant improvement in mood as compared to 29 participants who only followed the controlled health plan.
- Bolsters Immune Defenses
Pine bark extract seems to boost the immune system when it receives a possible threat. For example, taking Pycnogenol for common colds prevents severe symptoms. [Source: PubMed]
- It’s Anti-Inflammatory
A recent study shows that the anti-inflammatory properties of pine bark extract could help people recover from COVID-19.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract and Depression
There is not much evidence supporting how French Maritime pine bark extract improves depression. Still, recent studies do show a connection as it helps in mood regulation and oxidative stress management. Moreover, pine bark extract also improves symptoms of other mental health disorders such as ADHD.
Here is how maritime pine bark extract indirectly helps in preventing and treating depression:
- Contains Polyphenols 
Polyphenols are plant compounds with immense nutritional value. Many studies have investigated the impact of polyphenols on depression and psychiatric disorders. 
Another research called The Polyphenol Intervention Trial (PPhIT) revealed that a high polyphenol diet improves psychological well-being. The results showed heterogeneous findings regarding the effect of a polyphenol on psychological well-being. It also showed positive effects on depressive symptoms.
- Manges ADHD
A study found that one month of taking pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) improved concentration, coordination and made the subjects calmer. And stopping the pine bark extract supplementation worsened their symptoms. The results were conclusive and convincing enough that researchers suggest pink bark extract as an effective natural supplement for relieving ADHD symptoms. [Source: PubMed]
- Lowers Stress Hormones
Another study reveals that Pycnogenol lowers stress hormones by 26.2 percent, playing a significant role in managing depressive symptoms. [Source: Eurekalert]
- Improves Depressive Behaviour
Oxidative stress is a significant mechanism of depression. Research shows that Pycnogenol improves stress-induced depression symptoms due to its potent antioxidant activities. 
How To Use French Maritime Pine Bark Extract?
Nowadays, French Maritime pine bark extract is readily available commercially. Commercial pine bark extracts are commonly sold as supplements in the form of capsules, tablets, and powders. Liquid tinctures are also available.
Though other patented formulas exist, Pycnogenol is one of the most common pine bark extracts available out there. It is also found as the main ingredient in other supplement blends.
Dosage of French Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Pine bark extract’s daily dosage of 60 to 300 mg has been studied in many clinical trials. However, commercial supplements typically suggest a dosage of 150 mg per day.
It is recommended that the amount of pine bark supplementation should be determined by a certified health professional. The dosage may vary depending on factors like age, body weight, health conditions, etc.
That’s why you should consult a physician or doctor before taking pine bark extract, as it is best used under the supervision of a trained healthcare provider as they can help you determine the best dosage for you.
- New Study Shows Pine Bark Can Improve Cognitive Function and Mood: https://www.nutritioninsight.com/news/new-study-shows-pine-bark-can-improve-cognitive-function-and-mood.html
- Pycnogenol Ameliorates Depression-Like Behavior in Repeated Corticosterone-Induced Depression Mice Model by Lin Mei,Miyako Mochizuki and Noboru Hasegawa. 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036684/
- Antioxidant Potential of Bark Extracts from Boreal Forest Conifers by Jean Legault, Karl Girard-Lalancette, Dominic Dufour, André Pichette. 2013. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26784337/
- Psychiatric Disorders and Polyphenols: Can They Be Helpful in Therapy by Jana Trebatická, and Zdeňka Ďuračkova. 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2015/248529/
- Polyphenols and depression: from chemistry to medicine by Antoni Sureda, Silvia Tejada. 2015. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25601603/
- Pine Bark Extract: Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pine-bark-extract
- 7 Health Benefits Of Pine Bark Extract: https://www.naturesfare.com/health/7-health-benefits-pine-bark-extract/
- Maritime Pine: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1019/maritime-pine
- Pine Bark Extract: https://nootropicsexpert.com/pine-bark-extract-pycnogenol/
- Pine bark Shows Brain Health benefits: https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Article/2011/12/07/Pine-bark-extract-shows-brain-health-benefits-Study