(NaturalNews) Pine bark extract has shown extraordinary promise as a therapeutic agent used to help stabilize blood sugar and stimulate immunity. The special group of proanthocyanidin antioxidants in pine bark is responsible for its positive health benefits. Pine bark extract has profound antioxidant potential and immune boosting power.
Pine bark extract is made from maritime pine tree (Pinus pinaster) bark, which contains proanthocyanidins. These trees grow natively in the Mediterranean region including Portugal, Spain, France, Morocco and Italy. A patented extract of maritime pine bark called Pycnogenol consists of 65-75% proanthocyanidins.
Proanthocyanidin are a group of water soluble bioflavonoid polyphenols that consist of phenolic acids, catechin, taxifolin and procyanidins. A similar proanthocyanidin antioxidant complex is found in grape seeds but it differs slightly from Pycnogenol. These antioxidants are also found in a smaller degree in cinnamon, cacao and red wine. They are found in the skins and seeds of apples, blueberries, grapes, cherries and plums too.
Improves microcirculation in diabetics:
Pycnogenol has been found to help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics demonstrated that Pycnogenol supplementation was able to improve microcirculation, retinal edema and visual acuity in individuals suffering from diabetic retinopathy. Research over the past decade has indicated that Pycnogenol protects and improves the vision of diabetic patients.
Five large clinical studies with over one thousand diabetic patients using Pycnogenol resulted in noticeable improvements in visual acuity. Scientists are confirming that the proanthocyanidin complex helps to seal leaky capillaries in the eye. This impedes the progression of visual loss in patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy.
Improves attention span:
A 2006 study published in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry demonstrated that pine bark extract had a positive effect on children with ADHD. This double blind study had 61 children taking either 1mg/kg/day of Pycnogenol or placebo over four weeks with the Pycnogenol group seeing significant improvements in attention, concentration and visual-motor coordination.
Improves immune coordination:
A 2010 study published in PhytoTherapy Research demonstrated that Pycnogenol supplementation improved symptoms in individuals with allergic rhinitis. These individuals typically have a large rise in immunoglobin E (IgE) when exposed to birch pollen. The group receiving the Pycnogenol supplementation had significantly reduced IgE levels, indicating less allergenic response to the birch pollen than the placebo group.
An earlier 2007 study published in PhytoTherapy Research showed that Pycnogenol supplementation inhibited a talc induced proliferation of cancerous ovarian cells. Talc is a cosmetic agent that has been linked, along with poor diet and lifestyle, to ovarian cancer cell formation. Pycnogenol supplementation significantly decreased reactive oxygen species generation in the ovarian cells and reduced inflammation and cancer cell formation.
Pine bark as a Th2 stimulator
Some natural health practicioners have labeled pine bark extract as a selective Th2 stimulating agent. Although this has yet to be proven through research, there are various case studies indicating that pine bark may have this effect. This herb would be very helpful for individuals with Th1 dominance, as it will help balance out the immune system.
It is advisable for individuals with Th2 dominant conditions to do a supplement challenge where they intentionally see how there body responds to pine bark extract or another Th2 stimulating compound before they use it indiscretionarily. If it is shown through a cytokine blood test or through a supplement challenge that they have a Th2 dominance, it is best to avoid pine bark extract.
About the author: Dr. David Jockers owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Ga. He is a Maximized Living doctor. His expertise is in weight loss, customized nutrition & exercise, & structural corrective chiropractic care. For more information go to www.drjockers.com To find a Maximized Living doctor near you go to www.maximizedliving.com Dr. Jockers is also available for long distance phone consultations to help you beat disease and reach your health goals
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