French Maritime Pine Bark Extract: Review of Nootropic Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects

Updated on July 14, 2023
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)

This French Maritime Pine Bark Extract guide will go over how it works in the brain, its benefits, side effects, and how you can use Maritime Pine Bark Extract as a nootropic to take your cognition to the next level.

French Maritime Pine Bark Extract, also known as Pycnogenol, is a natural extract derived from the bark of the maritime pine tree that grows along the coast of southwest France.

It contains a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and organic acids, which have been studied for their potential health benefits.

More recently, researchers have started to study the effects of Maritime Pine Bark Extract on cognitive performance. The results have been promising and show that it can improve some aspects of brain health, especially memory, focus, and mental clarity.

Let's look at how French Maritime Pine Bark Extract works in the body and brain and what Science has to say about its benefits and side effects.

French Maritime Pine Bark Extract Review Summary

French Maritime Pine Bark Extract contains a potent blend of polyphenols, bioflavonoids, and organic acids that have been studied for their potential health benefits. It has been shown to improve memory, focus, and mental clarity when taken as a nootropic supplement. It also shows promise in treating inflammation and improving circulation.

French Maritime Pine Bark Extract helps biohackers feel more energized, clear-headed, and focused by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain, reducing inflammation, and protecting brain cells from damage. A nootropic blend like Mind Lab Pro contains high-quality French Maritime Pine Bark Extract in its list of cognitive enhancers that all work synergistically to power up the effects of Maritime Pine Bark Extract. It is worth considering for anyone looking to boost their mental performance.


  • Improves memory, focus, and mental clarity
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain
  • All-natural with robust evidence from scientific studies


  • Not ideal for people on blood-thinning medications

What Is French Maritime Pine Bark Extract?

French Maritime Pine Bark Extract

Maritime Pine Bark is an evergreen coniferous tree species native to the Mediterranean region. It is commonly known as Pinus pinaster and belongs to the genus Pinus of the family Pinaceae. 

Maritime Pine Bark consists of high levels of polyphenols, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins (OPCs), such as catechin and epicatechin, which are powerful antioxidants (1).

They act as free radical scavengers, eliminating toxic oxygen molecules from the body's cells and helping to maintain cell integrity and health. Other components include tannins, phenolic acids (such as gallic acid), and lignin derivatives (such as syringaldehyde), which also have unique antioxidant properties.

The extract of Maritime Pine Bark called Pycnogenol (PYC) contains 65 – 75% proanthocyanidins (procyanidins) (2). This extract has been used for centuries due to numerous health benefits, such as boosting immune system function, anti-inflammatory effects, and improving circulation by widening blood vessels.

These effects are mainly attributed to the OPCs found in this extract. In addition, studies have suggested that Maritime Pine Bark extract could benefit cardiovascular health by reducing cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, reducing hypertension risk factors, and preventing hardened arteries (3).

As a nootropic, Pine Bark Extract can improve cognitive functioning, elevate cerebral blood flow, and potentially prevent neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. It additionally shows potential in treating conditions like ADHD (4).

How Does French Maritime Pine Bark Extract Work In The Brain?

Maritime Pine Bark Extract has been subject to many rigorous in vitro and animal studies, showing evidence of its antioxidant properties and ability to act as an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor.

The mechanism by which it helps with Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) appears to be related to both getting rid of any free radicals that linger around and providing stability for the collagen subendothelial basal membrane.

When humans were tested using Maritime Pine Bark Extract, there was conclusive evidence: near-immediate relief from pain plus improved circulation in the legs and a decrease in swelling (5).

Maritime Pine Bark Extract supports cognitive performance by decreasing oxidative stress (OS), increasing cerebral blood flow (CBF) and, thereby, oxygenation in the brain (6).

According to Simpson, Tamra et al., French Maritime Pine Bark Extract works in 5 distinct ways in the body and brain:

  1. Regulates and protects cells against oxidative stress
  2. Acts as a potent free radical scavenger
  3. Protects DNA from damage
  4. Increases the synthesis of antioxidant enzymes
  5. Protects other endogenous antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione) from oxidative damage

What Is French Maritime Pine Bark Extract Used For?

Maritime Pine Bark Extract has been used to treat various medical conditions, including Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and cognitive decline. It has also been studied as a potential treatment for diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and asthma.

In addition, it appears to have neuroprotective benefits, making it a potentially useful treatment for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It's also used to improve cognitive function and mental performance.

In a recent study, 60 participants aged 35-55 volunteered to participate in a controlled experiment. Half the group took 50 mg of Pycnogenol 3 times per day for 12 weeks, while the other half followed a healthy lifestyle without supplementation.

After 12 weeks, those taking Pycnogenol experienced an increase in the mood by 16%, mental performance by 8.9%, and sustained attention by 13.4%. Additionally, oxidative stress decreased by 30% (7).

These results are significant considering that the average American's attention span has decreased from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Thus, Pycnogenol can be a viable option for improving focus and concentration, especially in adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

What Are The Benefits Of French Maritime Pine Bark Extract For Cognition?

Numerous studies have shown that Maritime Pine Bark Extract can provide a range of benefits for cognition, including improved memory and concentration.

The most important benefit is its high antioxidant activity, which helps to protect the brain from free radicals. Maritime Pine Bark also contains compounds like flavonoids (8) which help to increase blood flow to the brain and enhance cognitive functioning.

Other notable cognitive benefits of Maritime Pine Bark include enhanced mental clarity, improved mood, better focus, and sharper alertness.

An overview of the benefits of French Maritime Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) for cognition:

  • Improved memory
  • Increased antioxidant protection
  • Enhanced mental clarity
  • Improved mood
  • Better focus and sharper alertness
  • Increased blood flow to the brain

Where To Buy French Maritime Pine Bark Extract Online?

Although Maritime Pine Bark Extract is available in most online supplement stores, the quality of the product can vary significantly. There's also a big difference between whether you stack (combine) Maritime Pine Bark Extract with other nootropic ingredients or take it as a standalone nootropic.

We highly recommend combining Maritime Pine Bark Extract with other synergistic nootropic ingredients, such as Citicoline and Rhodiola Rosea, for the best results. Each ingredient works synergistically, meaning they exponentially enhance each other's effects.

That's why nootropic blends like Mind Lab Pro dominate the market - they combine the best quality nootropic ingredients in effective dosages. Mind Lab Pro, in particular, contains Maritime Pine Bark Extract (95% proanthocyanidins) at 75 mg and 10 other science-backed nootropics.

If you want to get your hands on Mind Lab Pro, you can find it right here:

What Do People Say About French Maritime Pine Bark Extract On Reddit?

Let's look at what people say about Maritime Pine Bark Extract on Reddit.

The most common comment is that Maritime Pine Bark Extract is a great way to improve mood and cognitive performance. People often mention it's one of the best natural nootropics available.

Here's what worldcitizen_7 said:

“I find this to be an AWESOME! natural nootropic. It helps me stay focused and relaxed at the same time. I take it every day and highly recommend it”

Another Reddit user called sajia6 commented:

“I've been taking maritime pine bark extract for a few weeks now, and I can see an improvement in my cognitive performance. My memory has improved, and I can focus better....”

Lastly, here's what Reddit user RozaJ said:

“I totally love Maritime Pine Bark Extract!!! It helps me stay alert and improves my mental clarity. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a natural nootropic!”

How Do You Take French Maritime Pine Bark Extract For Cognitive Enhancement?

For cognitive enhancement, Maritime Pine Bark Extract is typically taken as a capsule or powder and can be taken with or without food. We recommend taking Maritime Pine Bark Extract in the morning, as its effects will last throughout the day.

You can also take Maritime Pine Bark Extract in the afternoon if you need a pick-me-up or an extra cognitive performance boost.

It's important to note that Maritime Pine Bark Extract can have a blood-thinning effect, so if you're taking blood thinners, please consult your doctor first.

Maritime Pine Bark Extract is safe for daily use, which is why cycling isn't needed. However, if you're looking for a break from French Maritime Pine Bark Extract, we recommend taking those breaks in 4 or 8 weeks intervals.

Adults most commonly use Maritime Pine Bark Extract at a dose of 50 mg, taken 2-3 times daily for up to one year.

Studies have used dosages of 300 mg for a single dose and 200 mg daily for 5 days to reach a steady state (9), 150 mg per day in 3 divided doses (10) and 40-60 mg over a prolonged period of time.

Maritime Pine Bark Extract's antioxidant action is observable at a dose of 50 mg/day, and higher doses have been used up to 300 mg/day without major safety concerns.

What Are The Side Effects Of French Maritime Pine Bark Extract?

Pycnogenol's most commonly reported side effects include dizziness, vertigo, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, nausea, irritability, headache, and drowsiness.

It can also increase the chances of bruising with other medications with similar effects.

That said, Pycnogenol is generally well-tolerated for use in adults for up to 12 months. However, suppose you experience any adverse reactions while taking this supplement or have any existing medical conditions that may be affected by its use. In that case, it is best to consult your healthcare provider before beginning supplementation.

What Nootropics Are Similar To French Maritime Pine Bark Extract?

Other nootropics similar to French Maritime Pine Bark Extract include Bacopa Monnieri, Rhodiola Rosea, and Ginkgo Biloba.

  • Bacopa Monnieri is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine that is neuroprotective and has been shown to improve memory formation and recall. It also helps reduce anxiety and stress levels (11).
  • Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen that helps the body cope with stress and fatigue while improving cognitive performance (12).
  • Ginkgo Biloba is another popular nootropic used for centuries for its cognitive-enhancing effects. It helps improve memory formation, concentration, and alertness (13).

These 3 nootropics are all similar to Maritime Pine Bark Extract in that they have all been linked to improved cognitive performance. However, each one also has its unique benefits and potential side effects that should be considered before taking them.

It's worth noting that Mind Lab Pro contains Maritime Pine Bark Extract, Rhodiola Rosea as well as Bacopa Monnieri.

So if you're looking for an all-in-one solution that combines the cognitive-enhancing effects of these 3 nootropics, Mind Lab Pro is an excellent choice.

What Brain Supplements Can French Maritime Pine Bark Extract Be Stacked With?

One of the best supplements to stack with Maritime Pine Bark Extract is a nootropic blend like NooCube, which contains choline (Alpha GPC), an essential nutrient for cognitive function.

Choline helps to support focus, mental speed, and memory. Combined with Maritime Pine Bark Extract, these two compounds can work together in synergy to create a powerful effect on cognition.

NooCube also contains several other ingredients, such as Huperzine A, Cat's Claw Extract, Oat Straw Extract, and Bacopa Monnieri, all known for improving cognitive performance.

Combining these nootropic ingredients with Maritime Pine Bark Extract allows users to experience enhanced focus and concentration and improved memory recall and learning capacity.

NooCube is the perfect foundation for stacking with Maritime Pine Bark Extract because it provides the essential nutrients needed for optimal cognitive performance while providing additional benefits from its unique blend of natural ingredients.

With NooCube as your base supplement, you can easily add other compounds like racetams to enhance your cognitive abilities further.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are the frequently asked questions about French Maritime Pine Bark Extract.

How Long Does It Take For French Maritime Pine Bark Extract To Work?

Maritime Pine Bark Extract contains many beneficial components quickly absorbed into your body and brain within 24-48 hours after consumption. The effects can be felt as soon as 1 hour later, although they may take up to 6 hours depending on individual metabolism or other factors.

How Does French Maritime Pine Bark Extract Make You Feel?

Maritime Pine Bark Extract makes you feel energized, alert, and focused. Many who take it report improved stamina and energy levels after a few weeks, in addition to being able to recall words and names more easily. Long-term users often feel calmer and have better memory and increased mental clarity. The extract can help reduce fatigue and improve your overall feeling of well-being. 

What's The Half-Life Of French Maritime Pine Bark Extract?

With its half-life ranging from 14 to 16 hours, Maritime Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) has two primary metabolites: catechin and taxifolin. While catechin is absorbed quickly into the plasma in about 2 hours, taxifolin remains present for up to 16 hours. As a result, the biological half-life of Maritime Pine Bark Extract will differ based on its concentration and metabolites' pharmacokinetic properties. On average, Pycnogenol has one of the longest possible half-lives in this range and can last up to 14 hours or more.

Is It Safe To Use French Maritime Pine Bark Extract?

Maritime Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) is considered a safe nootropic supplement. It has been extensively researched, with hundreds of studies examining its safety and efficacy. Most users report no side effects when taking moderate doses (less than 200 mg daily) as directed.


So what do we know about Maritime Pine Bark Extract? We know it is a potent nootropic, providing cognitive benefits like improved focus, memory recall, and learning capacity.

It can be stacked with other nootropics for an even greater effect on mental performance. It is generally considered safe with few side effects when taken in moderate doses.

Maritime Pine Bark Extract contains flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant properties that can help protect against damage from free radicals and inflammation.