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Supplement review: Pycnogenol / Modex

Apr 15, 2021

Every week I have clients ask me if they should take a particular supplement. It's a new, sparkly product with unmatched results, "clinically proven" and taken by all the pro's.โ  โ  โ 

But often they're looking for the 1% performance gains without the solid foundations first. They take an expensive supplement, yet don't fuel training properly or under recover or eat crap on the weekends โ ๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿคท๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธโ 


Today on Coffee & Questions I talked about a specific supplement that seems to be prolific in the endurance space at the moment. Modex.

I’ve had a number of people ask me about it recently so I thought it would be useful to share with you in case you’ve got a mate raving about the benefits or you already take it.

I’m going to explain what it is, and walk you through the process I go through when looking into a new supplement/product with the critical eye of an Advanced Sports Dietitian. I don't simply google it, read it's website or a blog. 

On the Modex website, this is what they say it is:

"Modex® is a broad spectrum sports supplement, partly medicinal, predominately performance and recovery focused and a touch on general health and wellness. This is achievable through the unique properties of Pycnogenol, being a Potent Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory Modulator, Nitric Oxide booster and a Collagen & Hyaluronic Acid regenerator. Consumed daily for general health and fitness or as a pre workout for exceptional training benefits."

Immediately I’m thinking this is a typical supplement company using big buzz words to impress its audience, without really giving you too much information. 


What is it?

It's Pine Bark Extract -  specifically Procyanidin compounds.

'Pycnogenol' is a patented formulation of pine bark extract, trademarked for the French formula 

It's Also Known As

Pine Bark Extract, Pine Bark Procyanidins and Procyanidins

Procyanidins can also be extracted from grape seed, witch hazel bark and peanut skin

Claims to be:

  1. Powerful antioxidant
  2. Natural anti-inflammatory
  3. Supports healthy blood circulation – through Nitric Oxide (I found only 3 studies)
  4. Binds to collagen, elastin and helps regenerate hyaluronic acid synthase

So what does the research say?

I spent about half a day deep diving into the literature (not google) to look at the specific studies in the area and came up with a few conclusions:

  1. There are lots of human trials conducted on Pycnogenol, and Modex is quick to state that on their website
  2. BUT lots of them have industry funding (the supplement company runs the trial or pays for it). This doesn't necessarily invalidate the published results but it should always be noted. Always be cautious of research funded by the company
  3. There is a lot of poor quality research
  • There is a big lack of repeatability – So you repeat the study and get the same results (this is not the case). So while there are loads of studies, they all show various different results, positive and negative
  • Research is not double-blinded – so participants know what they’ve been given either the placebo or product. Gold Standard in research is double-blinded so neither the researcher or participant knows what's been given.

  • Very Small sample sizes – As an example, there were only 16 people in the Nitric Oxide study. And only 9 in another cycling time trial study.  The first study was only males, aged 18-29. Obviously this doesn’t really translate to everyone, particularly females. And it's also difficult to draw strong conclusions with such small sample sizes - particularly with low repeatability.

  • Doses of pycnogenol were different to what's recommended on the Modex website. In the Nitric Oxide study, participants were given 180mg for 2 weeks –where the Modex website is suggesting 30ml/day – which is only 78mg.


So Very Quickly I Can See that

  1. Research might be ‘prolific’ but the quality is poor
  2. Specific dosing has been provided which doesn’t seem to match the research – clear guidelines need further, better quality research
  3. The research is not translatable to a blanket market

Is it safe?

It is HASTA certified which means a third party company has/is batch testing it for WADA prohibited substances– great!

But this does not guarantee it’s 100% safe. It is always the athletes responsibility with what they choose to put in their body.


My Final Thoughts 

I talk about supplements as being the sprinkles on the icing on the cake๐Ÿง.

You need to lay a solid foundation with your day-to-day nutrition, the sponge, FIRST before decorating your cake. You'll actually have more performance GAINZ ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ (with a Z) from laying a solid foundation than the 1% sprinkles can provide.โ  โ 

Next, once you've made a great sponge base, you ice it with evidence-based, performance-enhancing Sports Nutrition Principles. Because you've got a wicked Sports Dietitian in your corner helping you nail the fundamentals๐Ÿ˜‰ โ  โ 

Once that area is nailed, only then do you have something for your sprinkles to stick to.โ  โ 

Most athletes start with Supplements first. Because it's almost easier to take simply take a supplement. However it can be expensive (Modex is $70/L!!), maybe dangerous, you run the risk of getting a doping violation and is it really effective?

  1. Start with the FOUNDATIONS, โ 
  2. then the middle SPORTS NUTRITION layer before
  3. finally SPRINKLING on the 1%ers. โ 

How would you build a pyramid?

I hope that has helped those that have been asking me about Modex. But also for anyone looking at taking a supplement in general.

Ask yourself – is it safe?

Does it work/is it effective?

Is it going to benefit me?


are those dollars better redirected to a consultation with a Sports Dietitian to nail some of the fundamentals first.

Taryn ๐Ÿ™‚


If you need help nailing the foundations of your pyramid, here's how you can work with me 1 on 1.

If you're looking for a more cost-effective option, here's how you can get started NOW with one of my online courses


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