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Pycnogenol extract is made from fresh bark, which is powdered and extracted with 30% water and 70% ethanol in a patented process.5 The result is a very fine, brown-colored, water-soluble powder. Pycnogenol contains mainly procyanidins and phenolic acids. The total amount of procyanidins is standardized to 70 ± 5%.4 Pycnogenol meets the specifications for Maritime Pine Extract detailed in the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).16

The procyanidins are biopolymers consisting of units of catechin and epicatechin, with chain lengths of 2-12 monomeric units. The more common dimers, B1 and B3, have been identified as consisting of epicatechin-catechin and catechin-catechin units, respectively, linked with a C4-C8 bond. Less common are dimers B6 and B7, which are catechin-catechin and epicatechin-catechin units, respectively, linked with a C4-C6 bond. A trimer, C2, consisting of catechin-epicatechin-catechin, also has been identified. Catechin, epicatechin, and taxifolin represent the “monomeric procyanidins,” of which catechin is the most common.3

The phenolic acids in Pycnogenol are derivatives of benzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid, protocatechuic acid, gallic acid, and vanillic acid) or cinnamic acid (caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and p-coumaric acid). The phenolic acids are found in free form and as glucosides or glucose esters.4

Free glucose is present in small amounts, and other sugars including arabinose, rhamnose, and xylose are detected following glycolysis.17

Inorganic substances include calcium, potassium, and iron, with traces of manganese, zinc, and copper.3