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Pycnogenol, the number one prescription for retinopathy in France, is unknown to many doctors in the United States who treat people with diabetes. French doctors swear by Pycnogenol's antioxidant powers, but most American doctors cannot even pronounce 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.
Besides the antioxidant abilities of the bioflavonoids, Pycnogenol is also said to improve circulation, a particular concern in diabetes.
Complete Remission of Retinopathy
Tom 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 good. In 1982, doctors told Petersen that his right eye would require laser surgery and his left would be next. Realizing that retinopathy could take his sight one day, he researched treatments on his own. What Petersen came up with was Pycnogenol. His ophthalmologist 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, Petersen's ophthalmologist 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 ophthalmologist says Pycnogenol is the only thing to which he can attribute the improvement.
Petersen recommended Pycnogenol 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."
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.
Getting It Here
Pycnogenol is available in the United States as a dietary supplement. Although Pycnogenol has been proven to be a powerful antioxidant and a weapon against clogging of the blood vessels, American doctors generally do not recommend it for people with diabetes.
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