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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 non-prescription treatment. Only a professional has the tools to assess the health of your eyes.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, diabetic retinopathy, a degenerative disease of the retina, is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults in the United States each year, accounting for 8,000 cases annually. Pycnogenol works by improving circulation, protecting small blood vessels and combating and possibly even reversing retinopathy.
According to a recent study published in Phytotherapy Research (15; 1-5; 2001), 30 people with diabetes were treated with 50-mg dosages of Pycnogenol three times per day for two months. Another 10 people with diabetes were treated with a placebo. The researchers found that Pycnogenol had a beneficial effect on retinopathy, while the placebo group's retinopathy only got worse.
Pine-Bark Extract-Improves Blood Vessel and Retinal Health
As the legend of Pycnogenol goes, in 1534 French explorers became trapped by ice on the Saint Lawrence River. To avoid contracting scurvy, the researchers brewed a tea from the needles and bark of local pine trees. Over 400 years later, in 1947, French chemist Jack Masquelier, intrigued by this story, discovered that maritime pine-bark extract duplicated many of the actions of vitamin C. In 1979, the name "Pycnogenol" was coined.
According to "The New Superantioxidant-Plus," (Keats, 1994)" a book by Richard Passwater, PhD, Pycnogenol reduces "vascular fragility," to which people with diabetes are prone. Passwater has written several books on Pycnogenol including "All About Pycnogenol," published by Avery Press in 1998, and "Pycnogenol: The Super 'Protector' Nutrient," published by Yeats in 1994. Both books are available at www.amazon.com.
According to the October 1998 issue of Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, researchers at the University of South Florida demonstrated that Pycnogenol stimulates nitric oxide levels, which counteracts the blood-vessel-constricting effects of epinephrine and norepinephrine in the body. In addition, the researchers found Pycnogenol decreased clogging of the blood vessels and prevented the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Although Pycnogenol has been proven to be a powerful antioxidant and weapon against clogging of the blood vessels, American doctors generally do not recommend it for people with diabetes because they do not know about it.
Getting Pycnogenol in the United States
Horphag Research patents Pycnogenol in the United States. It comes in bottles of 30, 60 and 180 capsules in dosages ranging from 25, 50 and 100 mg. Pycnogenol is available at any health food store, as well as WalMart, Walgreens, Costco and GNC.
According to Victor Ferrari, chief operating officer for Horphag Research in Geneva, Switzerland, you can purchase most bottles for around $20. Ferrari says dosage recommendation for Pycnogenol is 0.5 mg per pound of bodyweight.
"If you weight 200 pounds, a typical single daily dose would be 100 mg," says Ferrari.
For more information, Ferrari says people can log onto Horphag's Web site (www. Pycnogenol.com) or call its American distributor, Natural Health Sciences, at (877) 369-9934.
The original Pycnogenol compound discovered by Masquelier is also available in the United States. The only problem is, it cannot be called "Pycnogenol." Because of a patent dispute with Horphag Research, Masquelier's original Pycnogenol extract is available under three patent names:
Tricia Lefebvre, a marketing communications representative for Primary Source, says a bottle of 60 capsules (100-mg dose) of OPC GrapeGold costs $39.95. A bottle of 90 capsules (50-mg dose) of OPC PineGold costs $39.95. Dosage recommendations for OPC Grape Gold and PineGold are 150 to 300 mg per day. Lefebvre says they should be taken with water on an empty stomach, at least one-half hour before you eat.
To place an order for OPC GrapeGold or OPC PineGold, call Primary Source, Inc at (888) 666-1188 or log onto www.psopc.com
Don Grice, an associate at LifePlus, says Proanthenols are available in bottles of 60 tablets (50 mg) for $24.50; 40 tablets (50 mg) for $91.50 and 60 tablets (100 mg) for $45.50. Dosage recommendations are 1.4 mg per pound of body weight. Therefore, for a 185-pound person, it is recommended that he or she take 259 mg.
To place an order for Proanthenols, call LifePlus at (888) 745-2473 or log onto www.antioxidant.org.
Mike Corrigan, vice president of educational services for Natures Way, says True OPCs are available in 50 and 75 mg tablets. Suggested retail price for a bottle of 60 tablets (75-mg dose) is $19.49 and 90 tablets (75-mg dose) is $26.99.
To place an order for True OPCs, call Nature's Way at (800) 962-8873.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.