Treatment of melasma with Pycnogenol

Phytother Res. 2002 Sep;16(6):567-71. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1085.


Melasma (or chloasma) is a common disorder of cutaneous hyperpigmentation predominantly affecting sun-exposed areas in women. The pathogenesis of melasma is not fully understood and treatments are frequently disappointing and often associated with side effects. Pycnogenol is a standardized extract of the bark of the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), a well-known, potent antioxidant. Studies in vitro show that Pycnogenol is several times more powerful than vitamin E and vitamin C. In addition, it recycles vitamin C, regenerates vitamin E and increases the endogenous antioxidant enzyme system. Pycnogenol protects against ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Therefore its efficacy in the treatment of melasma was investigated. Thirty women with melasma completed a 30-day clinical trial in which they took one 25 mg tablet of Pycnogenol with meals three times daily, i.e. 75 mg Pycnogenol per day. These patients were evaluated clinically by parameters such as the melasma area index, pigmentary intensity index and by routine blood and urine tests. After a 30-day treatment, the average melasma area of the patients decreased by 25.86 +/- 20.39 mm(2) (p < 0.001) and the average pigmentary intensity decreased by 0.47 +/- 0.51 unit (p < 0.001). The general effective rate was 80%. No side effect was observed. The results of the blood and urine test parameters at baseline and at day 30 were within the normal range. Moreover, several other associated symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, pains in the body and anxiety were also improved. To conclude, Pycnogenol was shown to be therapeutically effective and safe in patients suffering from melasma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / blood
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Flavonoids / urine
  • Humans
  • Melanosis / drug therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Pinus*
  • Plant Bark / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects
  • Sunscreening Agents / pharmacology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Flavonoids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sunscreening Agents
  • pycnogenols