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Pycnogenol

Uses

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
3 Stars
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
150 to 300 mg per day
A controlled study reported that supplementing daily with Pycnogenol improved symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency and reduced associated leg swelling.
A controlled study reported that 150 mg per day of Pycnogenol improved symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and reduced associated leg swelling.1 Double-blind trials have also found that 100 mg of Pycnogenol two to three times daily reduced symptoms of CVI and improved measurements of blood flow and pressure inside of the veins.2 , 3 A controlled trial found that 150 mg per day of Pycnogenol was more effective for CVI than use of elastic stockings alone, but that a combination of the two was better than either treatment alone.4 Several preliminary studies of CVI have investigated pycnogenol in comparison to or combined with other flavonoid extracts. These studies reported that Pycnogenol (150 to 300 mg per day) was more effective than 1,000 mg per day of a flavonoid mixture of 90% diosmin and 10% hesperidin,5 that 360 mg per day of Pycnogenol was more effective than 600 mg per day of horse chestnut seed extract,6 and that a daily combination of 40 mg Pycnogenol and 940 mg hydroxyethylrutosides was more effective than 1,200 mg per day of hydroxyethylrutosides alone.7
3 Stars
Hypertension
100 to 200 mg per day
Pycnogenol has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure in people with mild hypertension.
In a small double-blind trial, 200 mg per day of Pycnogenol lowered systolic blood pressure by about 5 mmHg in a group of people with mild hypertension.8 Another double-blind trial found that 100 mg per day of Pycnogenol made it possible to significantly reduce the amount of blood pressure medication necessary to normalize blood pressure.9 In a controlled study, hypertensive patients with signs of early kidney dysfunction were treated with blood pressure medication and either 150 mg of Pycnogenol or placebo.10 After six months, the group receiving Pycnogenol had a greater reduction in diastolic blood pressure and improved in some measures of kidney function.
3 Stars
Retinopathy
120 to 150 mg per day
Preliminary and double blind studies have shown that daily supplementation with Pycnogenol may slow the progression of retinopathy and improve vision.  
Preliminary and double blind studies have shown that Pycnogenol slows the progression of retinopathy and improves vision when given in typical amounts of 120 to 150 mg per day.
2 Stars
Age-Related Cognitive Decline
150 mg per day
A study of healthy senior people reported that supplementing daily with Pycnogenol improved some measures of memory after three months, compared with a group taking a placebo.
A double-blind study of healthy senior people reported that 150 mg per day of Pycnogenol improved some measures of memory after three months, compared with a group taking a placebo.11
2 Stars
Asthma
1 mg per pound of body weight per day, in two divided doses
In one trial, supplementing with Pycnogenol improved lung function and asthma symptoms and reduced the need for rescue medication in children with asthma.
In a double-blind trial, supplementing with Pycnogenol significantly improved lung function and asthma symptoms and significantly reduced the need for rescue medication in a group of children (ages 6 to 18 years) with asthma.12 In contrast, no significant changes were seen in the placebo group. The amount of Pycnogenol used was 1 mg per pound of body weight per day, in two divided doses, for three months.
2 Stars
Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder
1 mg daily per 2.2 pounds body weight daily
Though another story did not find effect, one study reported that Pycnogenol reduced symptoms of hyperactivity and improved attention, coordination, and concentration after one month in a group of children with ADHD.
A double-blind study in Slovakia reported that 1 mg daily per 2.2 pounds body weight of Pycnogenol reduced symptoms of hyperactivity and improved attention, coordination, and concentration after one month in a group of children with ADHD.13 However, a double-blind study in adults with ADHD did not find 1 mg Pycnogenol per pound of body weight daily was effective for ADHD symptoms.14
2 Stars
Dysmenorrhea
60 mg per day
Preliminary research and double-blind research has reported that pycnogenol may reduce severe abdominal and back pain during menses.
Preliminary research reported that 60 mg Pycnogenol twice daily for two months reduced abdominal and back pain during menses.15 A double blind trial by the same researchers using 60 mg Pycnogenol per day confirmed these findings for women with more severe pain, but not for those whose menstrual pain was mild.16
2 Stars
Erectile Dysfunction
120 mg daily
In one study of men with erectile dysfunction, supplementing with Pycnogenol improved erectile function.

In a double-blind study of men with erectile dysfunction, supplementing with 120 mg per day of Pycnogenol improved erectile function, whereas placebo treatment had no effect.19

2 Stars
Gingivitis
6 pieces chewing gum per day containing 5 mg each
In a double blind trial, people with gingivitis who chewed six pieces daily of a gum had less gum bleeding and no additional plaque formation, compared with a placebo group.  
In a double blind trial, people with gingivitis chewed six pieces daily of a gum, each containing 5 mg Pycnogenol.20 While a group chewing gum without pycnogenol experienced continued gum bleeding and plaque formation after 14 days, the pycnogenol group had less gum bleeding and no additional plaque formation.
2 Stars
Jet Lag
150 mg per day for seven days, beginning two days before travel
In controlled studies, Pycnogenol taken for two days before and five days after air travel led to milder symptoms that lasted for a shorter period of time, compared with untreated control groups.  
In controlled studies, 150 mg of Pycnogenol was taken for two days before and five days after air travel.22 Jet lag symptoms were milder and lasted for a shorter period of time compared with untreated control groups.
2 Stars
Lupus
60 to 120 mg per day
In a small, controlled study, Pycnogenol seemed to help decrease systemic lupus erythematosus activity, measured with a combination of signs, symptoms, and blood measurements.

In a small, controlled study, people with SLE were given medication and either a placebo or Pycnogenol in the amount of 120 mg per day for 30 days followed by 60 mg per day for another 30 days. SLE disease activity, measured with a combination of signs, symptoms, and blood measurements, declined further in the group taking Pycnogenol.23

2 Stars
Menopause
200 mg per day
In a double-blind trial, perimenopausal women who took Pycnogenol experienced reduced menopause symptoms.
In a double-blind trial, perimenopausal women who took 200 mg per day of Pycnogenol experienced reduction of menopausal symptoms as measured by a women’s health questionnaire.24
2 Stars
Osteoarthritis
100 to 150 mg per day
Double-blind research has shown that Pycnogenol may improve symptoms of osteoarthritis, including reducing pain and the use of pain-relieving medication and improving walking performance.

In a double-blind trial, 100 mg per day of Pycnogenol reduced pain and other osteoarthritis symptoms, improved walking performance, and reduced the use of pain-relieving medication.25 Another double blind trial found that 150 mg per day also improved symptoms and reduced use of pain-relieving medication.26

2 Stars
Skin Ulcers
150 mg per day orally, along with topical application of 100 mg daily
In a controlled study, symptoms of diabetic skin ulcers improved in those treated with standard medications plus oral and topical Pycnogenol.
In a controlled study, diabetic skin ulcers were treated with standard medications plus either 150 mg per day of Pycnogenol orally, 100 mg Pycnogenol topically applied to the ulcers daily, or a combination of oral and topical Pycnogenol treatment.27 All treatments produced complete healing in more subjects after six weeks compared with a control group receiving no Pycnogenol treatment, but the group receiving oral and topical Pycnogenol had the greatest reductions in ulcer size and in pain and other associated symptoms. In a small controlled study of venous skin ulcers, the same combination of oral and topical Pycnogenol was more effective for healing than oral Pycnogenol treatment alone.28
2 Stars
Sunburn
1.1 to 1.66 mg per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of body weight per day during periods of high sun exposure
Proanthocyanidins (flavonoids found in pine bark, grape seed, and other plant sources) may increase the amount of ultraviolet rays necessary to cause sunburn.

Proanthocyanidins (OPCs) are a group of flavonoids found in pine bark, grape seed, and other plant sources. In a preliminary trial, volunteers were supplemented with Pycnogenol, an extract of French maritime pine bark rich in OPCs, in the amount of 1.1 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day for the first four weeks, and 1.66 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day for the next four weeks.29 Compared with ultraviolet sensitivity before supplementation, the lower amount of Pycnogenol was found to significantly increase the amount of ultraviolet rays necessary to cause sunburn, and the higher amount was significantly more effective than the lower amount.

2 Stars
Type 2 Diabetes
100 to 150 mg per day
Preliminary research has suggested that Pycnogenol might help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes and slow progression of complications such as retinopathy.

Preliminary research has suggested that Pycnogenol might help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.30 Double-blind trials have shown that 100 to 125 mg per day of Pycnogenol lowers blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, but improvement in measures of long-term blood sugar control has not been consistent.31 , 32

Preliminary and double-blind studies have also shown Pycnogenol (typically 120 to 150 mg per day) slows the progression of diabetic retinopathy and improves vision.33 , 34 , 35 , 36 In a controlled trial of diabetic patients with symptoms of damage to the small blood vessels of the lower legs and feet, 150 mg per day of Pycnogenol improved measures of skin health and blood flow to the feet.37 In another controlled study, diabetic skin ulcers were treated with standard medications plus either 150 mg per day of Pycnogenol orally, 100 mg pycnogenol topically applied to the ulcers, or a combination of oral and topical Pycnogenol treatment.38 All treatments produced complete healing in more subjects after six weeks compared with a control group receiving no Pycnogenol treatment, but the group receiving oral and topical Pycnogenol had the greatest reductions in ulcer size and in pain and other associated symptoms.

2 Stars
Venous Thrombosis
For plane travel: 200 mg two to three hours before a flight, 200 mg six hours later, and 100 mg on the following day
People at risk for venous thrombosis during plane travel were shown a video explaining in-flight exercises to prevent venous thrombosis and also followed a regimen of Pycnogenol, which appears to reduce frequency of episodes of venous thrombosis.

In a controlled study, people at risk for venous thrombosis during plane travel were shown a video explaining in-flight exercises to prevent venous thrombosis and also followed a regimen of 200 mg of pycnogenol two to three hours before the flight, 200 mg six hours later, and 100 mg on the following day.39 Compared with a similar group who only viewed the video, the group taking pycnogenol experienced fewer episodes of venous thrombosis.

1 Star
Endometriosis
60 mg per day
In a preliminary study, symptoms of endometriosis gradually declined when women took Pycnogenol.

In a preliminary study,40 symptoms of endometriosis gradually declined when women took 60 mg per day of Pycnogenol, which is high in flavonoids. Double-blind research is needed to confirm these findings.

1 Star
High Cholesterol
150 mg per day
Preliminary research suggests that Pycnogenol may lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol in people with normal cholesterol levels.
A preliminary study reported that 150 mg per day of Pycnogenol lowered LDL cholesterol and raised HDL cholesterol in two-thirds of a group of people with normal cholesterol levels.41 Double-blind research is needed to confirm these findings.
1 Star
Leg Cramps
Refer to label instructions
A preliminary study of people experiencing at least four episodes per week of leg cramps due to either athletic activity, circulatory disorders, or unknown causes reported that Pycnogenol significantly reduced cramping.  
A preliminary study of people experiencing at least four episodes per week of leg cramps due to either athletic activity, circulatory disorders, or unknown causes reported that 200 mg per day of Pycnogenol significantly reduced episodes of leg cramps.42 Double-blind research is needed to further explore this use of Pycnogenol.
1 Star
Melasma
75 mg per day
Preliminary research shows that melasma, a disorder of increased skin pigmentation, may be improved by Pycnogenol supplementation.
Melasma is a disorder of increased skin pigmentation. In a preliminary study, 80% of women with melasma who took 75 mg per day of Pycnogenol experienced lightening and shrinking of the pigmented area of the skin.43 More research is needed to evaluate Pycnogenol for this condition.
1 Star
Pregnancy and Postpartum Support
30 mg per day
In a controlled study, pregnant women who took Pycnogenol reported some relief of pain in the legs, pelvis, hip, and low back.
In a controlled study, pregnant women who took 30 mg per day of Pycnogenol reported some relief of pain in the legs, pelvis, hip, and low back.44 Double-blind research is needed to confirm these findings.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

While the French maritime pine has been used as an ornamental tree and for wood products, it has not been used in traditional herbal medicine. Pycnogenol was developed and patented in the 1980s as a rich source of proanthocyanidins.

How It Works

How It Works

Pycnogenol is a mixture of many substances belonging to the flavonoid family, primarily proanthocyanidins and phenolic acids.45 Test tube, animal, and preliminary human research has shown Pycnogenol to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity through several biological mechanisms, as well as blood-thinning, blood vessel–relaxing, and connective tissue–strengthening effects.46 , 47 , 48

How to Use It

60 to 300 mg daily

Interactions

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Pycnogenol has been well tolerated in clinical trials, with only occasional gastrointestinal complaints reported.49 , 50

References

1. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Rohdewald P, et al. Rapid relief of signs/symptoms in chronic venous microangiopathy with pycnogenol: a prospective, controlled study. Angiology 2006;57:569-76.

2. Petrassi C, Mastromarino A, Spartera C. PYCNOGENOL in chronic venous insufficiency. Phytomedicine 2000;7:383-8.

3. Arcangeli P. Pycnogenol in chronic venous insufficiency. Fitoterapia 2000;71:236-44.

4. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Rohdewald P, et al. Improvement of signs and symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency and microangiopathy with Pycnogenol(R): A prospective, controlled study. Phytomedicine 2010 Jun 23. [E-pub ahead of print]

5. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Rohdewald P, et al. Comparison of Pycnogenol and Daflon in treating chronic venous insufficiency: a prospective, controlled study. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2006;12:205-12.

6. Koch R. Comparative study of Venostasin and Pycnogenol in chronic venous insufficiency. Phytother Res 2002;16:S1-5.

7. Riccioni C, Sarcinella R, Izzo A, et al. Effectiveness of Troxerutin in association with Pycnogenol in the pharmacological treatment of venous insufficiency. Minerva Cardioangiol 2004;52:43-8 [in Italian].

8. Hosseini, S, Lee, J, Sepulveda RT, Fagan T, et al. A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, prospective 16 week crossover study to determine the role of Pycnogenol(R) in modifying blood pressure in mildly hypertensive patients. Nutr.Res 2001;21:67-76.

9. Liu X, Wei J, Tan F, et al.. Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract, improves endothelial function of hypertensive patients. Life Sci 2004;74:855-62

10. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Stuard S, et al. Kidney flow and function in hypertension: protective effects of pycnogenol in hypertensive participants--a controlled study. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther 2010;15:41-6.

11. Ryan J, Croft K, Mori T, et al. An examination of the effects of the antioxidant Pycnogenol on cognitive performance, serum lipid profile, endocrinological and oxidative stress biomarkers in an elderly population. J Psychopharmacol 2008;22:553-62.

12. Lau BH, Riesen SK, Truong KP, et al. Pycnogenol as an adjunct in the management of childhood asthma. J Asthma 2004;41:825–32.

13. Trebatická J, Kopasová S, Hradecná Z, et al. Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2006;15:329-35.

14. Tenenbaum S, Paull JC, Sparrow EP, et al. An experimental comparison of Pycnogenol and methylphenidate in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). J Atten Disord 2002;6:49-60.

15. Kohama T, Suzuki N, Ohno S, Inoue M. Analgesic efficacy of French maritime pine bark extract in dysmenorrhea: an open clinical trial. J Reprod Med 2004;49:828-32.

16. Suzuki N, Uebaba K, Kohama T, et al. French maritime pine bark extract significantly lowers the requirement for analgesic medication in dysmenorrhea: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Reprod Med 2008;53:338-46.

17. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Ricci A, et al. Control of edema in hypertensive subjects treated with calcium antagonist (nifedipine) or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors with Pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2006;12:440-4.

18. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Rohdewald P, et al. Prevention of edema in long flights with Pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2005;11:289-94.

19. Durackova Z, Trebaticky B, Novotny V, et al. Lipid metabolism and erectile function improvement by Pycnogenol®, extract from the bark of Pinus pinaster in patients suffering from erectile dysfunction—a pilot study. Nutr Res 2003;23:1189–98.

20. Kimbrough C, Chun M, dela Roca G, Lau BH. PYCNOGENOL chewing gum minimizes gingival bleeding and plaque formation. Phytomedicine 2002;9:410-3.

21. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Errichi B, et al. Pycnogenol treatment of acute hemorrhoidal episodes. Phytother Res 2010;24:438-44.

22. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Steigerwalt RJ, et al. Jet-lag: prevention with Pycnogenol. Preliminary report: evaluation in healthy individuals and in hypertensive patients. Minerva Cardioangiol 2008;56(5 Suppl):3-9.

23. Stefanescu M, Matache C, Onu A, et al. Pycnogenol efficacy in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus patients. Phytother Res 2001;15:698-704.

24. Yang HM, Liao MF, Zhu SY, et al. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the effect of Pycnogenol on the climacteric syndrome in peri-menopausal women. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2007;86:978-85.

25. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Errichi S, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with Pycnogenol. The SVOS (San Valentino Osteo-arthrosis Study). Evaluation of signs, symptoms, physical performance and vascular aspects. Phytother Res 2008;22:518-23.

26. Cisár P, Jány R, Waczulíková I, et al. Effect of pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) on symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Phytother Res 2008;22:1087-92.

27. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Errichi BM, et al. Diabetic ulcers: microcirculatory improvement and faster healing with pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2006;12:318-23.

28. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Errichi BM, et al. Venous ulcers: microcirculatory improvement and faster healing with local use of Pycnogenol. Angiology 2005;56:699-705.

29. Saliou C, Rimbach G, Moini H, et al. Solar ultraviolet-induced erythema in human skin and nuclear factor-kappa-B-dependent gene expression in keratinocytes are modulated by a French maritime pine bark extract. Free Radic Biol Med 2001;30:154–60.

30. Liu X, Zhou HJ, Rohdewald P. French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol dose-dependently lowers glucose in type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 2004;27:839 [letter].

31. Liu X, Wei J, Tan F, et al. Antidiabetic effect of Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract in patients with diabetes type II. Life Sci 2004;75:2505-13.

32. Zibadi S, Rohdewald PJ, Park D, Watson RR. Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes by Pycnogenol supplementation. Nutr Res 2008;28:315-20.

33. Schönlau F, Rohdewald P. Pycnogenol for diabetic retinopathy. A review. Int Ophthalmol 2001;24:161-71 [review].

34. Schönlau F, Rohdewald P. Pycnogenol for diabetic retinopathy. A review. Int Ophthalmol 2001;24:161-71 [review].

35. Spadea L, Balestrazzi E. Treatment of vascular retinopathies with Pycnogenol. Phytother Res 2001;15:219-23.

36. Steigerwalt R, Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, et al. Pycnogenol improves microcirculation, retinal edema, and visual acuity in early diabetic retinopathy. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther 2009;25:537-40.

37. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Rohdewald P, et al. Improvement of diabetic microangiopathy with pycnogenol: A prospective, controlled study. Angiology 2006;57:431-6.

38. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Errichi BM, et al. Diabetic ulcers: microcirculatory improvement and faster healing with pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2006;12:318-23.

39. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Rohdewald P, et al. Prevention of venous thrombosis and thrombophlebitis in long-haul flights with pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2004;10:373-7.

40. Kohama T, Herai K, Inoue M. Effect of French maritime pine bark extract on endometriosis as compared with leuprorelin acetate. J Reprod Med 2007;52:703-8.

41. Devaraj S, Vega-López S, Kaul N, et al. Supplementation with a pine bark extract rich in polyphenols increases plasma antioxidant capacity and alters the plasma lipoprotein profile. Lipids 2002;37:931-4.

42. Vinciguerra G, Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, et al. Cramps and muscular pain: prevention with pycnogenol in normal subjects, venous patients, athletes, claudicants and in diabetic microangiopathy. Angiology 2006;57:331-9.

43. Ni Z, Mu Y, Gulati O. Treatment of melasma with Pycnogenol. Phytother Res 2002;16:567-71.

44. Kohama T, Inoue M. Pycnogenol alleviates pain associated with pregnancy. Phytother Res 2006;20:232-4.

45. Rohdewald P. A review of the French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol), a herbal medication with a diverse clinical pharmacology. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2002;40:158-68 [review].

46. Rohdewald P. A review of the French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol), a herbal medication with a diverse clinical pharmacology. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2002;40:158-68 [review].

47. Packer L, Rimbach G, Virgili F. Antioxidant activity and biologic properties of a procyanidin-rich extract from pine (Pinus maritima) bark, pycnogenol. Free Radic Biol Med 1999;27:704-24 [review].

48. Canali R, Comitato R, Schonlau F, Virgili F. The anti-inflammatory pharmacology of Pycnogenol in humans involves COX-2 and 5-LOX mRNA expression in leukocytes. Int Immunopharmacol 2009;9:1145-9.

49. Liu X, Zhou HJ, Rohdewald P. French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol dose-dependently lowers glucose in type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 2004;27:839 [letter].

50. Liu X, Wei J, Tan F, et al. Antidiabetic effect of Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract in patients with diabetes type II. Life Sci 2004;75:2505-13.

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