PYCNOGENOL (One of the Original Antioxidants)
Research completed by Dr. Jack Masquelier of the University of Bordeaux, France, was ultimately responsible for the discovery and terminology called Pycnogenol, which means "to condense into one". Twenty years ago Dr. Masquelier began his research in reading the book "Voyages au Canada", which was written by a French explorer, Jacques Cartier. The French explorer and his men were stranded on a ship in the year 1535 in the middle of a severe Winter in an Eastern seaboard harbor of Canada. Being trapped by ice and snow in the harbor, Cartier's men had extremely poor nutrition, became gravely ill, and began to die. Approximately 25% of the men on the ship had died, and Cartier began looking for a solution to keep the remaining men alive. A native Indian from Quebec told the explorer to make a tea from the bark and needles of a pine tree that was indigenous of this area. The same pine tree is also found in parts of Spain and France. It is called the Annedda Pine Tree. They drank the tea and were completely recovered from their illnesses as soon as ten days. It was later established that the illness that plagued them was Scurvy, due to the lack of Vitamin C, but other diseases that the men had were remedied as well.
The classification of this pine bark in the plant kingdom is a Bioflavonoid. There are over 20,000 different identified and registered Bioflavonoids in existence. And it is believed that there are over 20 million Bioflavonoids in the world today. There is some kind of Bioflavonoid in every plant. All Bioflavonoids have been proven to strengthen fiber and protect against Superoxide Free Radicals in tissue.
It has been known for quite some time that there is a biochemical process that takes place in the human body that causes damage in many different ways. Oxygenated Free Radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that have an extra electron that is either added to or taken away from some other adjacent molecules as this alters their chemistry. They are drawn to cell walls where they damage proteins and other genetic material. The largest number of oxygenated free radicals are manufactured by our own body as a bi-product of our own metabolism. We can try to eliminate many of the other causes as society tries to eliminate pollution and chemicals that contaminate our environment. There are damaging molecules that carry this same extra electron that are found in our food, especially in processed food and our water. It is also found in certain drugs, smoke, smog and alcohol. There are many contributing factors why the unstable oxygen molecules are in existence in our body but the main reason being a bi-product of our own metabolism.
Dr. Masquelier created a whole new subclass of Bioflavonoids known as Flavanes. The Flavanes are many times more powerful in strengthening the capillaries and many times more effective as a free radical neutralizer than anything that had been known before. Dr. Masquelier further probed into many of the biochemical flavanes and found that they had a basic molecular structure that is known as Catechin and also Epicatechin. Both Catechin and Epicatechin are found in Green Tea. Many people have claimed the benefits of Green Tea, because of the Flavane molecule that it contains has several of the Phenol groups. Often they are called Polyphenols. This complex Flavane is chemically known as a Polymere, and this is the Catechin and the Epicatechin joined together. The Green Tea contains Tannin and it is found in the bark, leaves, skins and hulls of many nuts and seeds. It is a poor protector against free radicals, but it does make strong fiber. This is one of the reasons for many years, people have used this particular tea to tan animal hides into durable leather.
Further, Dr. Masquelier discovered the mid-range molecules between Flavanes and the Tannin that he called Oligomeres. These medium sized molecules were chemically significant in strengthening cellular structures.
Other scientists in France after Dr. Masquelier's initial research, discovered Oligomere Flavanes also in flowers and fruits, and chose to call these molecules Proanthocyanidins. The word "pro" meaning to form, "antho", flowers or fruits, "cyan" of blue, thus the term Proanthocyanidin. To make it even more complex but complete in nomenclature, some of the scientists went so far to call them Oligomereproanthocyanidins. Doing research with several different types of plants to determine the potency of Proanthocyanidins, Dr. Masquelier found that grape seeds, left over after they had been juiced, were even higher in percentage of the Proanthocyanidin than the original pine bark which he originally utilized. It was more credible to research the efficacy of the grape seeds than it was the pine bark, because the grape seeds could be grown in a season under a tent with Carbon Dioxide injected that had been radiocarbon tagged. As a part of the life cycle of the plant, Carbon Dioxide was absorbed into the leaves, and the carbon content went into the seeds of the grapes. When the grapes were harvested, the Proanthocyanidin was extracted from the seeds, and since it was radio tagged, it was easy to monitor the location of these molecules as it was fed to laboratory mice. As the mice' bodies were exposed to radiographic plates, the Proanthocyanidin could be traced as it gave out a signal as to where it was located in the body of the mouse. It was noted that within 10 minutes after ingestion it was already in the blood and it was very slow in leaving the blood even as much as seven hours later, Proanthocyanidin still in the blood. Most of the molecules had been taken up into the muscles, heart, plasma, lungs, adrenal glands, spleen, skin, kidneys, bronchial tubes, liver and small intestines, with the aorta of the heart containing the largest amounts of Proanthocyanidin. It was further discovered that the Proanthocyanidin had the highest affinity for the body's connective tissues. As an anti-oxidant, it was confirmed that the Proanthocyanidin was 50 times more effective than the typical Vitamin E and 20 times greater than Vitamin C.
Not too many years ago, it was learned that plants as well as living tissues can formulate protective enzymes which are aerobic cells called Superoxide Dismutases or S.O.D.'s. Human beings are considered to be the longest living organism in the world today. It is believed that humans have more S.O.D. defense mechanisms than any other plant or animal. The over production of the oxygenated free radicals have become a concern because it appears as though the polluted environment, x-rays from radiation, sunlight and the destruction of the ozone layer by fluorocarbons, other carcinogens, etc., create a surplus in effect of the oxygenated free radical in the human body, and in many cases can lead to pre-mature death. The oxygenated free radical with its extra electron causes damage to membranes, cells, and RNA/DNA. It has also been determined that skin wrinkles in the aging process is proliferated with free radicals. Researchers have tried to reproduce the Superoxide Dismutase in the laboratory, but they have never been able to duplicate any kind of a molecule that would not be destroyed in the stomach and intestines before it was utilized. Tests and experiments on other chemicals and agents have been administered to determine what would be the best free radical scavenger.
It was ascertained in the process of not being able to duplicate S.O.D.'s, that bioflavonoids could be utilized to strengthen cell membranes and fibers, to protect them from oxygen free radicals. It was also determined that these free radical fighters were readily absorbed or they were Bio-available to specific areas that they were most needed. Laboratory and experimental animals were given large doses of different radioactive elements as well as aspirin to induce bleeding, and other types of damaging treatments. After they were given Proanthocyanidin as an oxygenated free radical scavenger, all of the animals were made healthy again. It was revealed that the ingredients of the extracts from the Proanthocyanidin were fixing on the collagen which is one of the main supporting proteins of the body. It demonstrates there are many vascular protective properties in Proanthocyanidin and it has also been proven to be an excellent anti-inflammatory substance as well. Proanthocyanidin has been effective against peroxides which produce Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the body, and also it is proven that Proanthocyanidin is effective against internal bleeding. It does strengthen and normalize capillary resistance in small blood vessels of the eye as well as other parts of the body and can be used effectively in Gynecological abnormalities as well. One of the primary concerns of any oxygenated free radical fighter is that it is bio-available or can be absorbed readily. The radio tagged grape seed Pycnogenol is absorbed readily or is bio-available from the stomach or small intestines into the blood stream. It does attach itself to cellular walls, it is non-toxic, it does trap and neutralize free radical molecules and it can remain in the system for up to 72 hours. Pycnogenol or Proanthocyanidin has more efficacy in perspective than the "stand alone" Vitamins C and E which have been universally recognized as the best free radical scavengers thus far.
Many names have been coined to commercially produce the pine bark extract or the grape seed extract. A financial backer of Dr. Masquelier and 50% partner by the name of Charles Haimoff, trademarked the Pycnogenol name because he has half of the patent rights. This product seems to be produced by several companies with the name Pycnogenol on the label. Further, it seems that the term itself has become generic.
The value of the product is evident empirically and obviously by the testimonials of those that use it. Caution should be used in purchasing the product. Unfortunately, there are charlatans in every business. No value "Fillers" can be added to the product without consumer knowledge. This product is only as good as the integrity, purity, and honesty of the laboratory or company that produces it. The amount of actual product that is in a capsule will vary from company to company along with the recommended dosage. Most companies are introducing capsules that are 20mg to 25mg of pycnogenol. They are recommending 2.25mg per kg of body weight. This is done for 2 to 4 weeks then a maintenance dosage is suggested, from 25mg to 50mg per day. Since the substance is non-toxic and bio-available, a person does not have to be concerned about "over-dosing" or sloughing non-utilized product. Of the many vitamins, minerals, and food supplements in the market today, this highly recommended product should be a priority in an individual's lifetime protocol of supplements.