Everything You Need To Know About Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Maritime pine bark is a relatively new ingredient to find its way into the nootropics industry.
It is a recent addition to the Mind Lab Pro ingredients list, and we are sure that more stacks are going to follow int he near future.
We’d be very surprised if you’ve heard of this stuff before now. As far as we know, no widely used nootropics stack has included this ingredient before, and we’ve never seen it discussed on any of the major nootropics forums.
Indeed, Maritime pine bark isn’t widely used as a supplement at all right now.
So why has it been introduced into one of the leading pre-made nootropic stacks today?
What even is Maritime Pine Bark?
What are its supposed effects?
Does it carry any side effect risks?
Should you add it to your daily nootropic supplement regimen?
Is there a cheaper alternative out there?
Let’s find out. This article will try to cover everything you really need to know about Maritime Pine Bark. We will go into as much detail as possible without being excessive. This article is supposed to be a good basis for you to go on and do your own research if you really want to. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments section.
What Is Maritime Pine Bark?
Maritime pine is a species of tree more formally known as Pinus Pinaster. It is found along coastal areas around Southern Europe, although it has emigrated from its native Mediterranean home to other parts of the world including the UK, US, and parts of South America.
Currently, there is a huge Pinus Pinaster population on France’s southwestern coast. In fact, the forest at Les Landes is currently the largest man-made forest in the world (although big planting campaigns across India and the UK might put and end to that soon). There are larger distributions across Portugal, but they are quite dispersed and naturally occurring.
The trees can grow pretty tall; up to 35m tall, with trunk diameters of between 1.2-1.8m.
It grows at low altitudes (obviously close to sea level), and it favors hot, dry summers and colder, rainy winters.
It exists in fairly harsh environments, with their native home being a wind-battered, salt-swept coast. It can grow in very low quality soils, and even in soils that are mostly sand. This makes it much hardier than most plant species, especially those commonly grown for commercial purposes or supplementation.
Obviously, in this article we are specifically talking about the bark of this tree species.
What Does Maritime Pine Bark Do?
On to the good stuff; what you’ve all come here for!
What does Maritime Pine Bark do exactly?
Why is it now being used in premium supplements?
Why should you care?
Well, Maritime Pine Bark has a couple of properties that make it extremely interesting.
One historical use for Maritime Pine Bark Extract was for the treatment of scurvy. In the mid-1500’s a French explorer was reported to have used a brew made from Maritime Pine Bark to ward off scurvy in his sailors after their ship became ice-locked.
While this is not a good use for Maritime Pine Bark Extract, it does give you a hint as to what this stuff has to offer.
Today, the main reason MPBE is used is because it contains some extremely powerful antioxidant compounds.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract contains a very specific complex of compounds called proanthocyanidin antioxidants, which are sometimes referred to as tannins.
These proanthocyanidin antioxidants have some amazing properties.
For one thing, proanthocyanidin antioxidants are incredibly effective at removing free radicals from the blood.
Free radicals are essentially bundles of atoms with an ‘odd’ number of electrons, meaning that they are highly reactive. They are formed during the breaking of a chemical bond; typically when oxygen interacts with some other molecule.
They are naturally occurring in humans (as they result from oxygen metabolism), but their production is massively increased by environmental pollutants, drug use, and certain dietary conditions.
Consuming anti-oxidants effectively removes these free radicals from circulation, thereby significantly reducing the oxidative damage inflicted on your cells by these free radicals.
Reducing oxidative damage, either by reducing free radical formation or increasing your anti-oxidant intake, has extensive and wide ranging health benefits.
More and more diseases are being linked to free radical damage. A number of very serious conditions are now thought to have their origins in free radical damage. These include:
- Some cancers
- Atherosclerosis (fatty blockages in blood vessels)
- Degenerative eye disease
If these diseases are either initiated or exacerbated by free radical damage, then reducing free radical damage would be a good way to reduce your chances of developing these conditions.
If these conditions are intensified by free radical damage, then increasing your anti-oxidant intake may help attenuate their symptoms or help a great deal in the cessation (or perhaps in some cases, reversal) of these conditions.
What About Proanthocyanidin Antioxidants In Particular?
It’s all very well talking about anti-oxidants in general, but that doesn’t explain why you should care about proanthocyanidin antioxidants.
They are, after all, what makes Maritime Pine Bark so appealing.
So what’s so special about these particular anti-oxidants?
Well, for one thing, proanthocyanidins seem to be particularly adept at crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Many antioxidants will struggle to actually reach the brain, which is obviously what we’re most interested in.
This means that proanthocyanidin antioxidants are particularly suited to ridding the brain of potentially damaging free radicals, reducing oxidative damage inflicted on your brain cells, and thereby promoting long-term brain health and performance.
By reducing oxidative damage in the brain, you not only potentially reduce the risk of developing degenerative brain diseases like dementia.
You also reduce your risk of developing atherosclerosis, which can prevent proper blood flow to areas of the brain.
On top of that, you protect your neurons from oxidative stress, which will support proper brain function on a day-to-day basis.
The benefits of Maritime Pine Bark Extract and its proanthocyanidin antioxidant content are not solely limited to free radical reduction, however.
Another property that these proanthocyanidins seem to have is the boosting of Nitrous Oxide production.
NO is what keeps your blood running smoothly.
You can think of NO as ‘greasing the wheels’ of your circulatory system.
Basically, your blood vessels release NO through their endothelium (interior walls). This keeps everything running smoothly, as it is supposed to do.
NO also relaxes constricted blood vessels, expanding them, which allows for more nutrient rich blood to flow through them to your ravenous cells.
This isn’t theoretical conjecture; NO is used as a treatment for vascular constriction. It is an incredibly powerful weapon against heart failure.
Diets rich in leafy green vegetables, which contain high concentrations of nitrogen, are known to improve blood flow and to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
The positive effects of NO on circulation has been proven beyond doubt by many clinical studies.
This trial looked at cerebral circulation in particular. The researchers compared the effect on cerebral blood flow (CBF) of consuming oxygen alone, or a mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide. The results speak for themselves: “CBF was significantly greater with 30% (0.01 > P > 0.001) and 60% nitrous oxide (P < 0.001) compared with baseline, although the difference between 30% and 60% nitrous oxide was not significant.”
Nitrous oxide clearly has a profound effect on brain blood flow, even in relatively small quantities.
By boosting nitrous oxide production, Maritime Pine Bark Extract, or rather the proanthocyanidins in Maritime Pine Bark Extract, can improve the delivery of blood to the brain.
This means more efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your brain cells.
It means more efficient delivery of free radicals to the brain.
It may also mean that areas of the brain which currently receive too little blood start getting the fuel they need to thrive.
It is becoming increasingly clear that age-related cognitive decline, at least in some cases, may be caused in large part by the degradation of blood vessels in certain parts of the brain.
Introducing more nitrogen-rich foods, like arugula, spinach, and beetroot may help stave off cognitive decline, or at least to lessen its impact.
Introducing more anti-oxidants that boost NO production, like proanthocyanidins, may also play a big part in protecting your long-term brain health.
By protecting your long-term brain health, you protect your long-term mental performance.
As far as we’re concerned, that is the best natural nootropic of all.
Should You Use Maritime Pine Bark Extract?
Whether or not you should introduce Maritime Pine Bark Extract into your daily supplement regimen really depends on your priorities, your own needs, and your current stack set-up.
One thing to consider is that this stuff is not widely available.
More common anti-oxidant supplements are readily available from health food stores around the world. If you walk into any vitamin and mineral store, you are likely to find things like red grape extract (resveratrol heavy), “supergreen” powders, and so on for relatively little money.
Sure, these supplements are more expensive than plain-old vitamin stacks, but they wont break the bank either.
But you would be hard pressed to find Maritime Pine Bark Extract in your local supplement store.
You would certainly struggle to find a high quality, super-concentrated extract, treated to deliver a large quantity of proanthocyanidins.
At present, Maritime Pine Bark Extract is relatively expensive, so unless it is bought as part of a comprehensive nootropic stack (with the manufacturer using economies of scale to reduce costs), you might be better off opting for a cheaper anti-oxidant.
Of course, if you can find it and afford it, Maritime Pine Bark and the proanthocyanidins that it delivers seem to have standout benefits.
These benefits really do seem to set this anti-oxidant complex apart from other similar compounds. The added NO-boosting properties in particular really set it apart from more common anti-oxidants like resveratrol.
Whether or not you need to introduce an anti-oxidant component to your daily nootropic stack also depends on your goals.
If your goal is promoting long-term brain health, then a potent anti-oxidant is a must-have for your daily stack.
Anti-oxidants aren’t something you take in abundance to treat a problem. They are things you consume throughout your life to prevent a problem ever arising.
If your goal is maximizing cognitive function over the long-term, supporting memory function, focus, and sharpness over decades, then anti-oxidants are worth incorporating into your daily regime.
But if your goal is a quick mental energy and focus boost, you will get very little from an anti-oxidant, even one as seemingly powerful as the proanthocyanidin complex in Maritime Pine Bark Extract.
Sure, the increase in cerebral blood flow can have an almost immediate effect on cognition, but the effect from MPBE is not as powerful as that delivered by a big dose of Ginkgo Biloba or a good serving of Vinpocetine. So if you are purely short-term oriented, one of these ingredients might serve you better there.
- Hajhashemi V, Vaseghi G, Pourfarzam M, Abdollahi A. Are antioxidants helpful for disease prevention?. Res Pharm Sci. 2010;5(1):1-8.
Johnson, B. “Mind Lab Pro Review: The complete package nootropic?.” Safety 9 (2019): 10.