Take the Diabetes Health Pump Survey
See What's Inside
Read this FREE issue now
For healthcare professionals only
  • 12 Tips for Traveling With Diabetes
See the entire table of contents here!

You can view the current or previous issues of Diabetes Health online, in their entirety, anytime you want.
Click Here To View

See if you qualify for our free healthcare professional magazines. Click here to start your application for Pre-Diabetes Health, Diabetes Health Pharmacist and Diabetes Health Professional.

Learn More About the Professional Subscription

Free Diabetes Health e-Newsletter
Latest
Popular
Top Rated
Eye Care (Retinopathy) Archives
Print | Email | Share | Comments (0)

Leading Prescription for Retinopathy in France Unknown in United States


Mar 1, 1999

Editor’s note: Diabetes Health encourages every person with diabetes to see an eye doctor at least once per year. A treatment like the one featured here should never replace professional care, and you should always notify your doctors when you take a nonprescription treatment. Only a professional has the tools to assess the health of your eye blood vessels.

"I was shocked."

Tom Petersen had just found out about a treatment for his retinopathy, not from his physician, but on his own.

"It's the number one prescription for retinopathy in France, and my doctor had never heard of it."

Americans are missing out on a seemingly powerful weapon against diabetes complications, Pycnogenol.

When French people with diabetes see their doctors about retinopathy, they are frequently prescribed Pycnogenol, according to several sources. But it is practically unheard of in the United States. French doctors swear by its antioxidant powers but most American doctors cannot pronounce it.

Antioxidants are known to rid the body of free radicals, the harmful molecules that lead to vascular and other problems, and Pycnogenol appears to be the supreme antioxidant.

What Is It?

Pycnogenol is the name for the patented pill form of the French Maritime pine tree bark, one of many pine tree species that contains bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids, also found in fruits, help vitamin C to function.

Pycnogenol is comprised of a particularly helpful group of bioflavonoids, called the proanthocyanidins. Proanthocyanidins have been shown to improve the elasticity of the capillaries, which are small blood vessels.

Thus, besides the antioxidant abilities of the bioflavonoids, Pycnogenol is also said to improve circulation, a particular concern in diabetes.

Complete Remission of Retinopathy

Petersen, a school psychologist from San Francisco, is passionate about Pycnogenol. He credits the product with curing his retinopathy.

Petersen has had type 1 diabetes for 45 years, during which his control has been "pretty good."

"I'm not a fanatic, but my health is good," he says.

Yet in 1982 his right eye required laser surgery and his left would be next, doctors told him. Realizing that retinopathy could take his sight one day, he researched treatments on his own. What he came up with was Pycnogenol.

His opthalmologist had never heard of it and didn't seem very interested in researching it, even after Petersen described its popularity in France. So he began taking it on his own.

After four months of taking Pycnogenol, says Petersen, his opthalmologist reported that his retinopathy seemed to be regressing. After another four months, Petersen says, he experienced "complete remission." After one year of Pycnogenol, he only requires a yearly eye exam and his opthalmologist says Pycnogenol is the only thing to which he can attribute the improvement.

Petersen recommended it to two friends with retinopathy. They too had complete regression of retinopathy.

"I'm not a researcher or a medical expert," he says, "but I am sure about these three cases."

Pycnogenol Studies

Many European studies have proven Pycnogenol's success as an antioxidant, and other studies have linked a depletion of antioxidant vitamins to the onset of diabetes complications.

One study, published in the journal Ophthalmic Research in 1996, proved Pycnogenol's beneficial effects in cow and pig retinas. Performed at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the study looked at antioxidants and flavonoids in treating lipid peroxidation of the retina. The study states, "Lipid peroxidation is considered a prominent feature of diabetic retinopathy."

Lipid peroxidation occurs when the oxygen in the environment attacks the lipids (fats) of the body. When the body has a good supply of antioxidants, no damage is caused. But without antioxidants to fight off the oxygen, free radicals are created. These are the harmful substances that cause vascular problems and advance the aging process.

The researchers induced lipid peroxidation and compared different antioxidants and flavonoids in fighting it. They concluded that they were successful in varying degrees. Pycnogenol had one of the greatest percentages in fighting lipid peroxidation.

Getting It Here

Petersen wants American doctors and people with diabetes to be informed about Pycnogenol. It is available in the United States as a dietary supplement.


Categories: Diabetes, Eye Care (Retinopathy), Type 1 Issues



You May Also Be Interested In...


Comments


Add your comments about this article below. You can add comments as a registered user or anonymously. If you choose to post anonymously your comments will be sent to our moderator for approval before they appear on this page. If you choose to post as a registered user your comments will appear instantly.

When voicing your views via the comment feature, please respect the Diabetes Health community by refraining from comments that could be considered offensive to other people. Diabetes Health reserves the right to remove comments when necessary to maintain the cordial voice of the diabetes community.

For your privacy and protection, we ask that you do not include personal details such as address or telephone number in any comments posted.

Don't have your Diabetes Health Username? Register now and add your comments to all our content.

Have Your Say...


Username: Password:
Comment:
©1991-2014 Diabetes Health | Home | Privacy | Press | Advertising | Help | Contact Us | Donate | Sitemap

Diabetes Health Medical Disclaimer

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of writers, contributors, and commentators, and are not necessarily those of Diabetes Health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.