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PCOs: Super Antioxidants

Grape Seed & Pine Bark Extracts~

• Are 50x More Potent Than Vitamins C And E

• Enhance Your Body’s Antioxidant System

• Protect You Against Degenerative Diseases                      

Americans Average 25mg Daily Of Plant-Based Antioxidants.

Increase This To150mg Of PCOs And Experience The Difference!

Look Inside And Find Out More…

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As it ages, the body produces greater amounts of free radicals. Investigations of grape seed extract as a protector of the aging brain and central nervous system showed improved antioxidant status and a reduction in the incidence of free radical damage.

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PCOs: Super Antioxidants

Would you be interested in an antioxidant that is 50 times more potent than either vitamin C or E?1 What if this substance was nontoxic and reinforced your body’s own antioxidant system?

What if it protected you against arthritis, allergies, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, DNA damage, eye disorders, and heart disease?

How about protecting you from inflammation and other degenerative conditions associated with free radical damage, including aging?

Well, the good news is that this super antioxidant can be yours and you can choose either grape seed extract or pine bark extract to reap the benefits!


PCOs: Super Antioxidants


1 PCOs are not a substitute for either vitamin. Vitamins have specific life-supporting functions. On the other hand, antioxidant substances are life-enhancing.



PCOs: Defined

These potent plant extracts contain very powerful antioxidant substances called proanthocyanidins, commonly referred to as PCOs (procyanidolic oligomers) or OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins).

These substances are bioflavonoids, a type of pigment that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. Although there are over 800 known bioflavonoids, those found in PCOs are superlative free radical quenchers.

As you may recall, free radicals are potentially harmful oxygen atoms which can damage cell structures so badly that immunity is impaired, and DNA codes can be altered. More than sixty diseases and disorders are associated with free radical involvement.


PCOs: Primary Properties

Introduced to the US in the late 1980s, in just the last six years nearly 700 additional PCO research articles have been published. The research shows that the immense free radical scavenging capability of PCOs can be attributed to several properties.

Primarily, PCOs gravitate preferentially to the vascular system. (This is the system of veins and arteries that transports blood and nutrients to every cell in our bodies, as in the word cardiovascular.)

Further, PCOs can act within the cell membrane where they can neutralize both water- and fat-soluble free radicals simultaneously.

Together, these three properties give PCOs the unique ability to support connective tissue and vascular integrity.



PCOs: Action

Scientific findings indicate that PCOs inhibit the release of certain enzymes which can damage the tissue forming the protective sheath of capillary walls.

PCOs also stabilize this tissue by cross-linking collagen fibers, strengthening the tiny arteries. It follows that PCOs are useful in preventing bruising.

More importantly, they protect against vascular problems, arthritis, allergies, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, DNA damage, eye disorders, and heart disease.

Further, PCOs augment wound healing and skin health, curb inflammation, and help prevent otherwise damaging microbes from causing infection.

And, there’s more.





PCOs: Two Best Known Sources

 The best known sources of PCOs are grape seed extract and pine bark extract. (Pine bark extract is sold as Pycnogenol in the US.)

Interestingly enough, the original patent holder for both the grape seed and pine bark extraction procedure is French scientist Jacques Masquelier. He patented the pine bark extraction method in 1951 and grape seeds twenty years later.

Since then, the two have been marketed in France where grape seed extract has long been approved for medicinal use. In that country, it outsells pine bark extract more than 400 times.

On the other hand, Pycnogenol is the more popular product here in the United States.

In this article, we discuss the overall benefits of PCOs and the specific support they bring. We also address the grape seed versus pine bark issue.







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Sidebar: Grape Seed Extract

There are five valid points that distinguish grape seed extract from pine bark extract:

1. Grape seed extract contains more PCOs: 92-95% compared to 80-85% found in pine bark extract.

2. Grape seeds contain a very potent antioxidant that isn’t found at all in pine bark extract, giving grape seed extract greater antioxidant activity.

3. Binding grape seed extract to phosphatidylcholine makes it three times more effective than pine bark.

4. Grape seed extract is more economical to produce and therefore costs less to purchase.

5. Far more studies of grape seed extract have been completed and published in scientific journals.

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Health Yourself!

Let’s take a closer look the way PCOs protect the body from free radical damage. We’ll do this by exploring some of today’s most prevalent health challenges.

The Heart of the Matter

PCO’s ability to fight free radicals and inhibit vascular damage by destructive enzymes demonstrates that these super antioxidants are wonderful cardiovascular protectors.

Research indicates that PCOs are capable of preventing atherosclerosis and the ensuing complications of heart attack and stroke.

Initially, PCOs protect us by preventing free radical damage to fats and cholesterol. When these lipids are oxidized, they injure the blood vessel walls. When this happens, the body lays down plaque in the arteries in an effort to smooth the damaged walls.

Over time, the plaque stiffens and narrows the vessels. Eventually, they become susceptible to complete closure by blood clots. PCOs make blood cells less likely to clump together.

The tendency of blood cells to clump together is called platelet aggregation. Clumps can result in potentially fatal clots. Clots can be avoided with the use of PCOs.

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“The Big C”

The answer is “Yes, PCOs can help”. PCOs have been found to attack cancer cells in the breast, lung, prostate, and gastro-intestinal tract without damaging healthy cells.

Research also suggests that PCOs could be helpful in managing the damage to normal cells by chemotherapy.

In other words, PCOs could be used to help protect healthy cells while cancer therapies work to get rid of cancer cells.

In one recent study, grape seed extract was found to inhibit cancer growth and help to eliminate advanced human prostate cancer cells. This research is especially significant: Prostate cancer is the second leading cancer diagnosed in older males in the Western hemisphere.

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Relief For Your Muscles

Relief from muscle pain and cramping appears to be among the myriad of potentially positive results from PCO use.

A recent study shows that supplementation with Pycnogenol improves blood flow to the muscles. This speeds recovery after physical exercise.

A study of 113 participants demonstrated that Pycnogenol significantly reduced muscular pain and cramps in both athletes and in healthy, normal individuals.

Furthermore, Pycnogenol has been found to help those who   suffer from diabetic microangiopathy or intermittent claudation.2

In this 4-week study, researchers observed participants for two-weeks. This was followed by a week of Pycnogenol supplementation (200 mg per day), and then completed with a week of observation without the supplementation.

Patients experienced about 21 percent reduction in pain. Control participants who took the placebo reported no decrease in pain.

Relief For Your Muscles


2 Microangiopathy is a disorder associated with diabetes in which the smallest veins are affected. Intermittent claudation is a painful blood vessel disease that causes the legs to cramp.


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Help For Diabetes

Diabetes increases the body’s production of free radicals, causing damage particularly to the vascular system, increasing the risk of heart attack, nerve damage, cataract, and blindness.

With diabetes, circulatory problems become particularly severe in the tiny capillaries, especially those of the eyes (retinopathy). PCOs bring support and healing by decreasing the permeability and fragility of these vessels.

In a series of studies, over 1200 people with diabetes took 20-160 mg of pine bark extract (as Pycnogenol) daily for 6 months. According to Richard Passwater, PhD, “the vision of treated patients not only stopped decreasing further but even improved.”

PCOs are also helpful for peripheral vascular disease, another treacherous side effect of the disease. For more about PCOs and diabetes, see the information on muscle relief below.

Incidentally, individuals who don’t suffer from diabetes or specific visual impairments can also benefit from consuming PCOs regularly. This info is especially important for those who endure daily ocular stress from computer glare.

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Put Out The Fire!

Free radical damage gone berserk is the basis of chronic inflammation. Seemingly unrelated diseases appear to be linked by this inflammation.

Among these diseases are increased risk of osteoporosis, loss of lean muscle mass after middle age, anemia in the elderly, and cognitive decline after 70.

Common disorders such as atherosclerosis, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s are caused in part by chronic inflammation. Also involved are heart valve dysfunction and congestive heart failure, diabetes, digestive system disorders, obesity, gum disease, and others.

One clinical study in Germany indicated that taking Pycnogenol daily lowered the activity of the immune cell “trigger” for inflammation.

In addition, grape seed extract also has been shown to significantly inhibit the formation of a number of pro-inflammatory substances in the body.3

FYI: Inflammation is also a healthy immune response to infection or injury. Here, the role of PCOs is multi-faceted. It includes combating free radicals, fighting infection and inflammation, supporting collagen (which in turn is the support structure of the dermis and blood vessels), and working synergistically with vitamin C.

Grape seed extract has been found to aid wound healing in two ways:

1) It supports the regeneration of damaged blood vessels and

2) Paradoxically, it increases free radical activity at the wound site. Although we typically think of free radicals as negative, they also help to clear potentially pathogenic bacteria from wounds.

Put Out The Fire!


3 These include cytokines, interleukin 1-beta, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha.


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Reducing ADHD

New research shows that Pycnogenol reduces hyperactivity and increases concentration.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 10% of American children have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Many of these children are on prescription medication. Unfortunately, most of the medications can be addictive and may have major side effects.

In one study, 61 children with ADHD took pine bark extract (as Pycnogenol) for one month. The result was a significant reduction in hyperactivity as well as improvement in attention, concentration, and motor-visual coordination.

Sadly, the children’s scores returned to baseline a month after supplementation was discontinued.

The positive results of this study are good news for parents who would prefer a safe, natural approach to help their children.

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A New Skinsation

Skin is the body’s largest organ. Like all other organs and tissues, it is susceptible to free radical damage and the effects of aging.

The free-radical fighting power of PCOs and their ability to maintain vascular integrity definitely prevents skin damage, including protection from sunburn.

Studies using Pycnogenol have shown that it improves the look and quality of the skin by interacting with skin proteins and by improving microcirculation. This brings moisture, oxygen, and nourishment to the skin.

Pycnogenol has also been shown to bind to collagen and elastin, thus protecting these proteins from destructive enzymes.

Since PCOs are consumed as a nutritional supplement, we might consider them to be an “oral cosmetic”.

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Buying & Using PCOs

You may be thinking, “Okay, I get it, PCOs are GREAT!…So where do I get them?”

Since few of us are interested in chewing grape seeds (acrid) or brewing pine needles (just picking them is tedious), the practical solution is taking PCO supplements.

Both grape seed and pine bark extracts are readily available at your local natural products store.

In the US, the average daily intake of all flavonoids is about 25mg. For therapeutic purposes, dosages of grape seed and pine bark extracts range from 150mg to 300mg per day.

When 150mg are ingested, PCOs are found in the saliva within an hour. Compared with common vitamin C which travels through the body in 3-4 hours, traces of PCO remain in the body for about three days.

Some forms of grape seed PCO are bound to phosphatidylcholine, a major component of membrane tissue.

This is a common method of preparing herbal supplements in Europe. Substances prepared this way are called phytosomes. The process is used because it increases the bioavailability of the active ingredients.

A daily intake of 50mg of PCO phytosomes is recommended. For therapeutic purposes, take 150mg. (See sidebar on grape seed extract for more details.)

Both grape seed extract and pine bark extract bring the benefits of PCOs and both have the backing of scientific research.

Since Pycnogenol was introduced to the health food market in 1989, it has been aggressively marketed, making it the predominant PCO in the United States. (See sidebar above.) Read the info and make your choice.

Remember, both products will give you the unparalleled antioxidant protection of PCOs.

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In the winter of 1534 French explorer Jacques Cartier and his crew were stranded in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

They subsisted on salted meat and biscuits. Without vegetables or fruits, the men began to die of scurvy (the vitamin C deficiency disease).

A compassionate Native American taught Cartier to prepare a tea for the sick from the needles and bark of certain pine trees. This concoction was remarkably effective, and the remaining crew were saved.

Almost 400 years later, another Jacques, Jack Masquelier, was determined to find why this tea was so effective. Although there was very little vitamin C in the pine needles, an extract prepared from the bark revealed that it potentiates the effect of vitamin C. The pine bark extract was named pycnogenol.

Although the vast majority of PCO studies are conducted using grape seed extract, virtually all studies using pine bark extract have used the Pycnogenol brand.*

The current patented product is the water extract of the bark of French maritime pines which grow in the southwestern coastal region of France.

* The name Pycnogenol® is now an international registered trademark of Horphag Research.

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Alternative Medicine Review. (November 2003). “Oligomeric proanthocyanidins-OPCs-Monograph”. Retrieved from LookSmart.com on January 19, 2006.

• Digles, J. (2006). Pine Bark Extract Studies. Natural Health Science, Inc, Hoboken, NJ.

• Kaur, M., Agarwal, R. & Agarwal, C. Grape seed extract induces anoikis and caspase-mediated apoptosis in human prostate carcinoma LNCaP cells…. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/medline/abstract/16731759 on June 24, 2006.

• Khalsa, SD. (January 1995). Nutrition News: PCOs: World’s Greatest Antioxidants.

• Khalsa, SD. (2006, in press). Remedies: Pining for the Grapest.

• Ohio State University. Grape seed extract helps speed up wound recovery. Retrieved from http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/gdgrapes.html on June 24, 2006.

• Passwater, R.A. (2005). User’s Guide to Pycnogenol: Nature’s Most Versatile Supplement. Basic Health Publications, Laguna Beach, CA.

• “What is Pycnogenol?” Retrieved from   www.pycnogenol.com on July 28, 2006.