OPC Pycnogenol General Health Benefits

Also known as:  Catechin Polymers;  Condensed Tannins;  Flavanolic Oligomers;  Leukoanthocyanidins;  Leukocyanidol;  Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Complexes;  OPC;  OPCs;  PCO;  PCOs;  Proanthocyanidins;  Procyanidins;  Procyanidols;  Procyanidolic Oligomers;  Procyanolic Oligomers;  PACs;  Phenolic Proanthocyanidins;  Procyanidines;  Pycnogenols
Description

Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins are a group of colorless Flavanols composed of bonds (oligomers - i.e. dimers and trimers) of linked Flavan-3-ols (Catechins - Catechin and/or Epicatechin).


Nomenclature
The term Proanthocyanidins is derived as follows pro = before, anthocyanins = red, referring to their colorless property and their ability to be transformed into (red) Anthocyanins.
OPC's, extracted from grape seeds and pine bark, provides superior antioxidant protection that is 50 times more powerful than vitamin E and 20 times more powerful than vitamin C. And, OPC's helps all other antioxidants (including vitamins C and E) work better! OPC's protect your cells against free radical attack and support the collagen structure of all the organs in your body.

Why do we need antioxidants?

The oxygen atom, which in a stable state has four pairs of electrons, becomes unstable when it loses an electron. An oxygen atom with seven electrons is referred to as a free radical. This name aptly describes its action in the body, too. Just as water pools, and vacuums are filled quickly in nature, free radicals quickly attach themselves to something - in this case body tissues - in order to stabilize themselves. What happens is the free radical takes an electron from the membrane of a body tissue and by doing so, produces yet another free radical, which then is obliged by its charge to seek out another electron - in your body. What results is a cascade of oxidations - a "rusting" of body tissues.

Cigarette smoke, air pollution, alcohol, drugs, radiation from televisions and computers, chemicals and a busy life generate free radicals, which cause "oxidative stress". Free radicals attack all your vital cellular structures, such as cell membranes and stimulate processes that have been linked to accelerated cellular aging. An antioxidant's job is to neutralize the free radical cells thus protecting the cells in our body from accelerated aging. By neutralizing the free radicals, these once free radical cells are able to assist with nutritional distribution, proper circulation and overall better health.

8 Out of 10 Doctors Take an Antioxidant For Long Term Health

1992 Medical Tribune

Studies from the National Cancer Institute on Aging, John Hopkins University and the American Heart Association have found how antioxidants isolated from fruits and vegetables and natural herbs function within our body's cellular and tissue systems. Fruits, vegetables and other plants have hundreds of protective nutrients that protect our bodies from "free radicals" which enter and destroy our bodies. In some instances, the damage can even be reversed by antioxidants.

Scientific studies have shown that OPC, which stands for oligomeric proanthocyanidins, is one of the most powerful antioxidant free radical scavengers known to man. After decades of research, OPC has been given the official recognition and distinction as "Vitamin P."
Additionally, this extraordinary nutrient has been scientifically proven to be 50 times more effective than Vitamin E and 20 times more effective than Vitamin C as a free radical scavenger. OPC is 100% bioavailable in humans, can be found in the blood within 20 minutes, and remains in the body for up to 72 hours. Unlike other anti-oxidants, OPC has a unique ability to cross the blood brain barrier providing direct protection to the brain and the central nervous system.

Extensive testing has proved OPC to be non-toxic, noncarcinogenic, non-antigenic, and non-tetratogenic (no birth defects). Professor Jacques Masquelier of Bordeaux University discovered OPC in 1951. After more than 40 years of extensive clinical, analytical, toxicological and pharmacokinetic studies, OPC has never provoked a toxic effect.

In comparing OPC derived from its two predominant sources, grape seed and pine bark, grape seed has a higher OPC content than pine bark and grape seed also contains gallic esters. Gallic esters are also powerful anti-oxidants found in grapes, which work together with OPC. This synergistic blend is only available from OPC derived from grape seed.

OPC is also a Vitamin C potentiator, meaning OPC supports Vitamin C’s function in the body. Some antioxidants are protectors of other antioxidants, some increase the potential of others and some can even regenerate other antioxidants. OPC protects Vitamin C, thus delivering more Vitamin C to the cells for nourishment.

As an effective antioxidant, OPCs help our body resist blood vessel and skin damage, mental deterioration, inflammation and other damages caused by harmful free radicals. However, their function is more than protection. They help repair by improving and stabilizing the skin protein collagen and improving the condition of arteries and capillaries.

OPCs have four biochemical properties which are beneficial to our body:

  • 1. free radical scavenging
  • 2. collagen binding
  • 3. inhibition of inflammatory enzymes
  • 4. inhibition of histamine formation


Health Benefits of OPCs
Aging & Life Extension

  • OPCs may inhibit some aspects of the Aging Process (by enhancing the body's renewal of Collagen and inhibiting excessive Cross-Linking):
  • OPCs may inhibit excessive Cross-Linking (yet they allow optimum Cross-Linking that is necessary for the structural integrity of Scleroproteins).
  • OPCs may remove Lipofuscin from the Brain and may inhibit its formation in the Brain and Heart.

Cardiovascular System

  • OPCs may help to prevent Bleeding (by strengthening the walls of Blood Vessels, reducing their susceptibility to leakage).
  • OPCs may help to prevent abnormal Blood Clotting.  references
  • OPCs may improve the strength and elasticity of the walls of Blood Vessels (especially Capillaries) and may reduce their permeability (by enhancing the synthesis and metabolism of Collagen and Elastin within the Blood Vessels).
  • OPCs may facilitate the removal of and prevent the formation of Lipofuscin from the Heart. 
  • OPCs may help to prevent Hypertension and OPCs may lower Blood Pressure in Hypertension patients (by inhibiting Angiotensin Converting Enzyme).
  • OPCs may help to prevent and alleviate Microangiopermeability (fragile Capillaries)
  • OPCs may reduce the risk of Thrombosis.  [more info]
  • OPCs may alleviate Varicose Veins.  references
  • OPCs may be a useful treatment for Venous Insufficiency. 

Cells

  • OPCs may help to prevent damage to the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) content of Cells.  references

Digestive System

  • OPCs may help to prevent Gastric Ulcers (by inhibiting the excessive production of Histamine within the Gastric Mucosa by the Histidine Decarboxylase enzyme).

Eyes/Vision

  • OPCs may help to prevent Bloodshot Eyes (by increasing the strength of the Capillaries, thereby preventing their unwarranted leakage as occurs in Bloodshot Eyes).
  • OPCs may help to prevent Cataracts.
  • OPCs may protect the Cornea from degradation by Proteolytic Enzymes such as Collagenase. 
  • OPCs may alleviate Eye Fatigue.
  • OPCs may alleviate Night Blindness.
  • OPCs concentrate in the Retina of the Eyes and may thereby enhance the health of the Eyes.  references
  • OPCs may be a good treatment for (diabetic) Retinopathy (OPCs strengthen the Capillaries that supply the Retina).  references
  • OPCs may help to prevent Short-Sightedness (by improving the structural integrity of the Capillaries that supply the Retina).  references
  • OPCs (100 - 200 mg per day) may improve various aspects of Sight (including the ability to adapt to glare and dark lighting).

Hair

  • OPCs (especially Procyanidin B2) may stimulate Hair growth in persons with Hair Loss:
  • A study on mice has demonstrated that the constituents of Grape Seeds stimulate the proliferation of Hair Follicles and convert the Hair growth cycle from the telogen phase to the anagen phase.
  • OPCs (especially Procyanidin B2 applied topically) may facilitate Hair growth in persons afflicted with Male Pattern Baldness.

Immune System

  • OPCs may help to prevent the mutations that underly some forms of Cancer and help to kill some types of Cancer cells:  references
  • OPCs may help to kill Breast Cancer cells.
  • OPCs may stimulate the apoptosis (cell death) of Colon Cancer cells.
  • OPCs may help to kill Lung Cancer cells.
  • OPCs may reduce the risk of developing Mouth Cancer (by 20 - 50%).
  • OPCs may reduce the risk of developing Pharyngeal Cancer (by 20 - 50%).
  • OPCs (consumed orally or applied topically) may help to prevent Skin Cancer (by inhibiting the activation of Ornithine Decarboxylase).
  • OPCs help to kill Stomach Cancer cells.
  • OPCs may help to prevent Inflammation (by preventing the release of Collagenase and Elastase from Cells):
  • OPCs may alleviate and prevent Allergies (by inhibiting the Inflammation that occurs in Allergies)
  • OPCs may enhance the function of NK Lymphocytes.

    Metabolism
  • OPCs are a potent Antioxidant:  references
  • OPCs may deactivate Hydroxyl Free Radicals.  references
  • OPCs may inhibit the peroxidation of Lipids (Lipid Peroxides).  references
  • OPCs may inhibit the process of Cross-Linking.  references
  • OPCs may reduce the deposition of oxidized LDL Cholesterol within the walls of Blood Vessels and may inhibit the oxidation of LDL Cholesterol.  references
  • OPCs may inhibit the damage to Liver Cells (hepatocytes) that occurs as a result of Paracetamol overdose.


Nervous System

  • OPCs may facilitate the removal of Lipofuscin from the Brain and may prevent the formation of new Lipofuscin within the Brain (note that OPCs effectively cross the body’s Blood-Brain Barrier).

Orthodox Medical Procedures

  • OPCs (150 - 300 mg per day) may reduce the Edema and Inflammation that occurs following Surgery.

Skin

  • OPCs may help to prevent Bruising (by increasing the strength of the Capillaries and other Blood Vessels).
  • OPCs (applied topically or consumed orally) may maintain the integrity of the Skin's Collagen and Elastin - by quenching the Xanthine Oxidase enzyme that catalyzes the production of the detrimental Collagenase and Elastase enzymes.  This activity may help to prevent some aspects of Skin Aging.
  • OPCs may inhibit the development of Wrinkles (by enhancing the body's renewal of Collagen and inhibiting excessive Cross-Linking).

Water/Water Balance

  • OPCs may reduce Edema (by improving the structural integrity of Blood Vessels).
  • OPCs may Enhance the Function of these Substances
  • Carbohydrates
  • OPCs may inhibit the destruction of Hyaluronic Acid by the Hyaluronidase enzyme

Elements

  • OPCs may stimulate the production of optimal amounts of Nitric Oxide in the Endothelium of Blood Vessels.  references
  • Nucleic Compounds
  • OPCs may help to prevent damage to the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) content of Cells. 

Polyphenols

  • OPCs can be converted by enzymes to Anthocyanins (i.e. OPCs are a precursor for Anthocyanins).

Proteins

  • OPCs bind to many types of endogenous Proteins:
  • OPCs may enhance the renewal and production of Collagen - when OPCs bind to Collagen, it helps to prevent the destruction of Collagen by Collagenase.  references
  • When OPCs bind to Elastin, they may help to prevent the destruction of Elastin by Elastase.


Vitamins

  • OPCs may enhance the function of and are synergistic with Vitamin C (OPCs reduce the body's daily requirement for Vitamin C).  references
  •  OPCs may help to prevent the degradation of Vitamin E and helps to recycle Vitamin E.  references
  • OPCs may Inhibit these Potentially Toxic Substances


Enzymes

  • OPCs may inhibit Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE).
  • OPCs may inhibit the activity of Beta-Glucuronidase.
  •  When OPCs bind to Collagen, they may help to prevent the destruction of Collagen by Collagenase.
  • OPCs may inhibit the activity of Cyclooxygenase.
  • OPCs may inhibit the activity of Elastase.
  • OPCs may inhibit the Histidine Decarboxylase enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of Histidine to Histamine.
  • OPCs may inhibit the activity of Hyaluronidase.
  •  OPCs may inhibit the activity of Lipoxygenase.
  •  OPCs may inhibit Ornithine Decarboxylase.
  •  OPCs may inhibit the activity of Phospholipase A2.
  • Some types of OPCs may inhibit Protein Kinase C.
  •  OPCs may inhibit the activity of Xanthine Oxidase.


Minerals

  • OPCs may chelate with free Iron molecules, thereby preventing Iron-induced Lipid Peroxidation. 


Pharmaceutical Drugs

  • OPCs may inhibit the damage to Liver Cells (hepatocytes) that occurs as a result of Paracetamol overdose.

Recreational Drugs

  • OPCs may inhibit the ability of Alcohol (ethanol) to stimulate the production of Lipofuscin in the Brain.

Dietary Sources of OPCs  references
(mg of OPCs per 100 grams)

  • Alcoholic Beverages: Wine (Red) 30  
  • Fruit: Apple  Bilberry
  • Grapes (especially Grape Skins)  Cranberry
  • Blueberry  Cherry
  • Strawberry   
  • Grains: Barley  Sorghum
  • Herbs: Hawthorn (berries)  Cola Nuts
  • Cat’s Claw  Pine Bark (Pycnogenol)
  • Witch Hazel  Cocoa
  • Blackjack Oak  Horse Chestnut
  • Cinnamon   
  • Legumes: Peanuts   
  • Processed Foods: Chocolate (especially Dark Chocolate)   
  • Seeds: Grape Seeds   
  • Vegetables: Rhubarb   
  • The OPCs content of Plants increases as the Fruit becomes more mature.


Obscure Sources of OPC
High concentrations of OPCs are found in the Seed Pods of the Honey Locust (Gliditsa triacanthos) and the Seed Pods of Chinese Wisteria (Wistaria sinensis).


OPCs Compared to other Flavanols
Many of the therapeutic benefits of OPCs also apply to Catechins and to Tannins, however OPCs [in-vitro] appear to be approximately 400% more bioavailable/potent than Catechins and 300% more potent/bioavailable than Tannins.
Grape Seed (extract) vs. Pycnogenol (as a source of OPCs)

Dosage Recommendations

  • The usual therapeutic dosage of OPC is 98 - 380 mg per day.


Bioavailability

  • OPCs are regarded as the most bioavailable of all of the Polyphenols.
  • OPCs are very efficiently absorbed when administered orally (due to their water-solubility):
  • High levels of OPCs can be detected within the Blood ten minutes after their ingestion and maximum Blood levels of OPCs occur approximately 45 minutes after their ingestion.
  • The biological half-life of orally administered OPCs is five hours.
  • After their ingestion, OPCs are transported via the bloodstream to all of the organs and tissues of the body:
  • OPCs effectively crosses the Blood-Brain Barrier.
  • Commercial Availability of OPCs Supplements


Oral Pycnogenol Products

The patented Bioflavonoid mixture Pycnogenol contains 84% OPCs and is widely available through health food stores and mail order supplement companies in the form of:

  • 25 - 100 mg capsules (containing 21 - 84 mg of OPCs)
    • 25 - 100 mg tablets (containing 21 - 84 mg of OPCs)


Oral Grape Seed Extract Products
Commercial preparations of Grape Seed Extract (sometimes known as Endotelon) are (almost always) standardized to contain 95% OPCs and these Grape Seed Extracts are available from most health food stores and mail order supplement companies (worldwide) in the form of:

  • 30 - 250 mg capsules (containing 28.5 - 237.5 mg of OPCs)
  • 100 - 200 mg tablets (containin 95 - 190 mg of OPCs)

In-Tele-Health © 2008  (from Hyperhealth Pro CD-ROM)