Grape Seed Extract / Pine Bark Extract
Both grape seed extract and pine bark are rich sources of the plant flavonoids PROANTHOCYANIDINS (OPCs). The OPCs are the pigment materials which give flavour, colour and aroma to many plants and fruits. The beneficial effects of pine bark were discovered in 1534 when sailors suffering from scurvy, survived by drinking tea made from the bark and needles of pine trees. Masquelier patented the method of extracting OPCs from pine bark in France in 1951 and from grape seeds in 1970. OPCs have been marketed in France for decades where they have been shown to improve retinopathies, venous insufficiency, and vascular fragility. Grape seed extract typically contains 92-95% OPCs while the pine bark extracts vary from 80-85%.
- COLLAGEN PROTECTION - OPCs effectively protect collagen structures in several ways. They reinforce the collagen matrix of connective tissue, protect against free radical damage, and inhibit collagen damage caused by inflammation and infection. OPCs have been shown to be effective in cases of psoriasis and the hyper-pigmentation disorder melasma (chloasma).
- ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY - OPCs protect against free-radical damage, suggested to be a major cause of the ageing process. The antioxidant effect is 50 times greater than that of vitamin C and E. A major advantage of these molecules is that they are taken up into the cell membranes and protect against both water- and fat soluble free-radicals.
- VENOUS SUPPORT - Good clinical evidence has shown OPCs to be effective in treating venous insufficiency, varicose veins, capillary fragility, and disorders of the retina. OPCs appear to improve blood circulation through collagen support and nitric oxide (NO) production.
- VISUAL FUNCTION - Studies in healthy volunteers has shown that an intake of 200mg/day of OPCs significantly improved visual performance in dark and after glare tests. A number of European studies have shown that OPCs from pine bark, greatly improved symptoms in patients with diabetic retinopathies, maculopathies, and other visual dysfunctions.
- CARDIO-PROTECTIVE - OPCs protect fat and cholesterol from oxidation, thus reducing arterial damage leading to heart disease. OPCs have also been shown to lower cholesterol levels, shrink the deposits in the arteries, inhibit platelet aggregation, and inhibit angiotensin 1-converting enzyme (ACE) - much the same effect as ACE inhibitor drugs used in blood pressure regulation. Data suggests that OPC supplementation is effective in reducing systolic blood pressure in mildly hypertensive patients.
- SEXUAL HEALTH / PERFORMANCE
- Antioxidants improve sperm mobility and motility.
- OPCs stimulate NITRIC OXIDE production in the arteries - an essential process needed for healthy male penile erection. The drug VIAGRA works in the same way through increasing nitric oxide. For optimum effects, OPCs along with ARGININE is suggested in cases of erectile dysfunction.
- An intake of 200mg of OPCs has been shown to improve healthy sperm by 100% in 90 days.
- Studies using 60mg OPCs have shown up to 80% improvements in pain reduction in those with endometriosis, period pain, and post-operative gynaecological surgery.
- BRAIN FUNCTION - As well as their potent antioxidant effects, OPCs help maintain neurotransmitters functioning longer and improve the micro-circulation in the brain. The increase in NITRIC OXIDE may also improve learning ability and memory through its effects as a neurotransmitter. Early evidence suggests that OPCs are effective in Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD). These positive results are due to the effects of increased neurotransmitter lifespan, NO production, and improved brain micro-circulation.
It is suggested that 25-100mg OPCs will provide synergy for general antioxidant protection. Therapeutic levels are in the range of 0.5 - 1.0mg per pound of body weight. Best taken in divided doses.
Skin health / sun protection (reduces inflammation of UV exposed skin), wound healing, economy class syndrome / long car journeys, varicose veins, eye health- cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, capillary fragility, micro-vascular disorders, oedema, allergies, hypertension, atherosclerosis, elevated cholesterol, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, ADD/ADHD, anti-mutagenic (DNA protective).
Consult a physician if already using anti-coagulant medication (e.g. warfarin).
Use in conjunction with
- Skin protection - Flax/hemp seed oil, antioxidant complex, beta carotene
- Varicose veins - Horse chestnut, ginkgo biloba, flax seed oil, ester- C
- Cardiovascular health - Co Q10, hawthorn, flax seed oil, antioxidant complex
- Male/Female libido - 'High-five' multi-vit/min, rhodiola / schisandra, ginkgo biloba
Key differences between grape seed and pine bark (pycnogenol):
- Most of the published clinical data over 20 years has been on grape seed
- Grape seed may be more potent than pine bark as only grape seed contains the potent gallic esters of the OPCs, the most active free radical fighting OPCs.
- Textbook of Natural Medicine. 2nd Edition - 1999. J.E Pizzorno. M.T Murray
- Richard. A. Passwater. 2001. Pycnogenol for Superior Health