"Pycnogenol (pronounced pick-nodge-en-all) is the brand name of an extract taken from the bark of the Maritime Pine, which grows along the Atlantic Coast of southwest France. The extract is rich in antioxidants and has been used by physicians in Europe for over thirty years to deal with a large range of health conditions.
It has also been the subject of numerous controlled scientific studies and is now being hailed as one of the nutritional breakthroughs of the late twentieth century. As Professor Ronald Watson of the University of Arizona stated, Here's a completely natural substance with remarkable activity, producing effects within minutes. It may have important health implications for an aging population.
Pycnogenol has recently been granted GRAS status in the US. This means that it is now affirmed for use in various foods and beverages, and is currently available in hundreds of dietary supplements, multivitamins and health products.
The remarkable health properties of Pycnogenol are due to it being a rich source of compounds known as proanthocyanidins (OPCs or PCOs). These are powerful antioxidants that are important for their role in removing damaging free radicals from the body. OPCs have greater antioxidant properties than customary sources such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta-carotene. The OPCs in Pycnogenol are very similar to those found in grape seeds, and are 20 times more potent than Vitamin C and 50 times stronger than Vitamin E.
It is well known that free-radical damage is a major cause of aging and degenerative disease. The body obtains antioxidants from many of the whole foods that are eaten as part of a normal healthy diet. Unfortunately, many people in the West dont eat enough of these foods, and, in addition, their bodies have to cope with an overload of free radicals from environmental sources such as smoking and pollution. For this reason, the taking of an antioxidant-rich supplement like Pycnogenol is vital for many people.
Antioxidants also assist in the prevention of plaque formation within arteries, thus effectively reducing the incidence of heart attack and stroke. OPC compounds also serve to prevent blood from becoming sticky and forming potentially dangerous clots. Speaking at a Washington D.C. conference, Professor Ronald Watson stated that a single, small dose of Pycnogenol was as effective as a five-time larger amount of aspirin. Further, Pycnogenol did not increase bleeding, while aspirin did, he said.
Numerous other studies and trials have shown that Pycnogenol is beneficial in the treatment or prevention of ADHD, Alzheimer's, cancer, arthritis, allergies, blood vessel strengthening, peripheral vascular problems, diabetes, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, sperm health, skin health, PMT, and the lowering of bad cholesterol."