Explore the scientific background of Pycnogenol®...
Pycnogenol® (pronounced pick-nah-geh-nol) is a complex of powerful antioxidant nutrients that are patented for use to scavenge free radicals. The derivation of the name "Pycnogenol" has to do with the fact that many complex compounds are formed from simple units.
Translated, this means that this specific mixture of nutrients can help you live better longer, stay healthier and appear more youthful. Pycnogenol® can help protect you from approximately eighty diseases, including: heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and most other non-germ diseases that are linked to the deleterious chemical action of free radicals.
Health benefits of Pycnogenol®
Studies on free radicals
During the past 40 years, the pace of scientific study of the aging process has accelerated and now the free-radical theory of aging is well-supported with numerous studies. During the past five years, these confirming studies have become well known not just to the biochemists, such as your authors, doing the basic research, but even to practicing nutritionists and physicians.
It is now well established that antioxidant nutrients protect the body's cells from attack by very reactive chemicals called free radicals. These free radicals form during normal metabolism and are multiplied by environmental pollutants and radiation.
Nature's best antioxidant
As scientists study the ways in which antioxidant nutrients protect the body from these harmful reactions that speed the aging process, cause cancer, heart disease and many other diseases, we strive to find better and better antioxidants. Nature has supplied us with the best antioxidants, and to our delight, we find that some of the most effective antioxidants are in Pycnogenol®.
The antioxidants of Pycnogenol®, along with other antioxidant nutrients, provide outstanding protection. Besides being a powerful antioxidant in its own right, Pycnogenol® also protects the antioxidant vitamin C.
The super skin nutrient
In addition to its antioxidant protection that slows the damage associated with aging, Pycnogenol® restores elasticity and smoothness to skin via its influence on skin protein formation. What is even more exciting, is that Pycnogenol® is more than a powerful antioxidant.
It nourishes blood cells, blood vessels and the skin. Pycnogenol® is unique because it also alleviates hay fever and other allergies, and strengthens capillaries to reduce edema, bruising, and varicose veins. Together, these actions of Pycnogenol® make it one of the most important nutrients.
Quickening pace of antioxidant research
Still, this information will be new to many, including health professionals. We mentioned that the pace of antioxidant research is quickening, but it hasn't been an easy accomplishment. In the 1970s, whenever one of your authors described the health benefits of antioxidants, medical professionals would scoff at the idea that so many conditions could be alleviated or prevented with antioxidants.
The health professionals did not understand how free radicals attacked the body to cause or be involved with nearly eighty diseases. Nor did they understand how antioxidant nutrients protected against free-radical damage. Without this knowledge, it was impossible for them to understand how antioxidants protected us from so many different diseases. The typical reaction was disbelief and ridicule.
Educated public and health professionals
Fortunately, through the years many research reports appeared in medical as well as scientific journals. Now cardiologists, oncologists and many other medical specialists and health professionals understand how one group of nutrients can protect us against so many different - and seemingly unrelated - diseases.
Just as fortunately, the general public was educated right along with the health profession as almost weekly reports in major newspapers and magazines kept abreast of the exciting research.
Why did medical and science writers report on these studies? Because antioxidant nutrients could save many, many people from the ravages of cancer and premature heart disease. In 1993, the Pracon Study found that the antioxidant nutrients could save the U.S. public about nine billion dollars every year by reducing illness from the five leading causes of death, including cancer and heart disease.
Pycnogenol in Europe since 1950s
This book, "Pycnogenol® The Super Protector Nutrient", will bring more exciting research on a powerful antioxidant to the public, as well as show other important benefits of Pycnogenol®. European physicians have known since 1950 that Pycnogenol® strengthened capillaries and reduced swelling in the legs and ankles. They have used Pycnogenol® with great success against hay fever and allergies since 1960. In the 1970s, enthusiastic users called Pycnogenol® "the skin vitamin" and the "skin cosmetic in a pill." However, it wasn't until 1986 that the great antioxidant power of Pycnogenol® was fully realized
Clinical tests used a precise Pycnogenol® blend
When reading the clinical studies in this book, three things should be kept in mind. First, Pycnogenol® is not a single nutrient, but a mixture prepared under a commercial process and this fact necessitates that we consider commercial aspects. Pycnogenol® is a blend of monomers, dimers, oligomers and organic acids, and this blend must be consistent from production lot to production lot to achieve the wide range of benefits.
Secondly, it is this precise blend that has been used in the tests described in the book. Thirdly, other preparations must be proven in their own clinical studies. One cannot assume that a similar preparation will be equivalent because Nature gives each plant a unique mix of bioflavonoids, and, because of extraction differences, even with the same plant source, the resultant blend may not be identical.
Pycnogenol® and the FDA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) essentially defines nutrients and drugs as compounds that are one or the other. They consider that a nutrient only provides nourishment and does not aid any health disorder except a deficiency caused by a lack of that nutrient. A compound that claims to have any other effect on the body other than simple nourishment is considered a drug and must pass rigorous and expensive testing to demonstrate those effects.
Nutrients affect health
However, many of us have provided evidence that nutrients alleviate or prevent many diseases in addition to the known deficiency diseases. In 1992, a major conference was sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences entitled "Beyond Deficiency: New Views on the Function and Health Effects of Vitamins."
For the first time, the vast body of the "establishment" nutritionists and medical researchers witnessed a large body of very convincing evidence from academic biochemists that nutrients do indeed affect the health in areas beyond deficiency diseases. The media, including the New York Times, TIME magazine, and Newsweek picked up on the quiet revolution.
Nature's great efficiency
Nature doesn't go by our rules and definitions. The great efficiency and economy of Nature lets compounds perform many tasks. But, according to FDA regulations, even a vitamin is ruled a drug if it helps cure a disease, or is advertised as affecting other body conditions or diseases.
For instance, according to FDA regulations, if vitamin C prevents scurvy at 60 milligrams per day, it is indeed a vitamin. But, if the vitamin C is used to help control an allergy or to ward off a cold, then it is considered a drug and cannot be sold until it passes millions of dollars worth of tests and studies.
Pycnogenol® is not a herb or a drug
In this writing, we will follow the teachings of Nature and not worry about artificial definitions. Is Pycnogenol® a nutrient, or an herb, or a drug? Pycnogenol® is a nutrient, even though it has historical use and application as an herb.
As mentioned earlier, a pine-bark extract that seemed to be very similar to Pycnogenol® was indeed used as an herb by North American Indians as far back at least as the 1500s to treat what is now known as scurvy. The usage was to potentiate the action of vitamin C.
Pycnogenol® restores missing nutrients. Pycnogenol® is not an herb or drug. We really don't have to worry about semantics when considering the actions of Pycnogenol® regarding whether it is a nutrient or a drug. Even when Pycnogenol® is correcting bodily disorders, it is achieving the correction through nourishing the body.
Pycnogenol® is a nutrient that corrects conditions because it strengthens capillaries, nourishes the skin, balances histamine production, etc. By restoring optimal health to body components such as capillaries, Pycnogenol® can correct disorders such as edema and microbleeding. Pycnogenol® does not create an artificial compensatory mechanism to correct, but restores normal function and condition.
The FDA and the public's interest
The FDA does have a reason for making the definitions to distinguish between nutrients and drugs. They are rightfully concerned that nutrients might be sold with unproven drug claims. They are also concerned with the public safety and they wish to make sure that quantities used are indeed safe. Primum non nocere -- first do no harm.
Even though most nutrients are not subjected to extensive toxicity test because of the expense of such tests, Pycnogenol® has been extensively tested with proper toxicity studies over decades. The studies include acute and gross toxicity, mutagenicity, carcinogenic and teratogenic studies (birth defects). Pycnogenol® is extremely safe, in the same class as vitamin C.
Pycnogenol®'s proven safety
Pycnogenol® has been tested and tested again according to conventional safety standards at several prestigious centers, including: The Pasteur Institute in Lyon, France, and Cytotest Cell Research (CCR) in Darmstadt, Germany. Researchers at these world-renowned centers concluded that Pycnogenol® is nontoxic, nonteratogenic, nonmutagenic, noncarcinogenic and nonantigenic.
Pycnogenol® has received extensive toxicity testing in comparison to food supplements such as vitamins, because of its widespread use by physicians in Europe. The manufacturer of Pycnogenol, Horphag Research Ltd., continually monitors its safety with routine toxicological tests. The manufacturing plant performing the Pycnogenol® production makes no other products which could cross-contaminate the Pycnogenol®.
Pycnogenol® is licensed to Horphag Research Ltd., and has been sponsoring research for decades. Over the decades of clinical testing and use, the blend of catechins, dimers, oligomers and organic acids of the maritime pine has proven particularly effective. Remember that each plant specie produces its own array of flavonoids. The oligomers of the maritime pine are unique and account for the power and versatility of Pycnogenol®.
Pycnogenol® and Brain Function
Pycnogenol® is important to brain function, not only because it protects blood vessels, but also because some of its bioflavonoids readily cross the blood-brain barrier to directly protect brain cells. Brain cells need a lot of oxygen. (It is amazing how much oxygen this organ consumes!) Blood supplies the brain with oxygen, but since brain cells are very sensitive to some compounds that normally circulate in the blood -- even though those compounds may not damage other cells in the body or may even be needed by other cells -- the brain filters out as many nonessential compounds as it can. This is accomplished by the so-called blood-brain-barrier.
13 Doctors Talk About Pycnogenol®:
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