Benefits of High OPC Pine Bark Extract—Combating Free Radicals

Our extract has such a profound effect upon diverse health issues because of its broad-spectrum, complex OPC profile. Research has shown it is unmatched in antioxidant potential—a benefit that has far-reaching results in:

  • Anti-aging
  • Cardio support
  • Brain Health and Performance
  • Circulatory Support
  • Cognition
  • Eye Function
  • Behavior
  • Healthy Skin

Free Radicals: The Cause of Oxidative Stress and DNA Damage

Oxidation is responsible for the rust on a bridge, for the wood on the side of a building that needs to be repainted. It takes place all around us, and it also occurs in our bodies. Millions of chemical reactions involving oxidation take place every second in the human body.

An imbalance of free radicals causes oxidative stress, and oxidative stress can cause damage to the building blocks of our body: DNA, proteins and lipids.

Free Radicals: Fast Facts

Free radicals are unstable, reactive molecules that often contain oxygen. They are unstable because they have one free reactive electron and they desperately want to pair this free electron with another electron to become stable. To get another electron they rob one from anything they can. Healthy cells in our bodies are a good source for these electrons.

Free radicals go about their business in our bodies relentlessly and very quickly, and can cause a lot of damage. It is estimated that our DNA receives about 10,000 "hits" from free radicals per cell per day (Ames, 1993).

An imbalance of free radicals in the body is called oxidative stress. Our cells can cope with some oxidative stress as they have developed endogenous antioxidants that are the defense mechanisms fighting off the constant attack from free radicals. Our cells have also developed repair mechanisms to ensure that damaged molecules and cells do not cause permanent harm to our entire body. However not all damage can be repaired and the unrepaired damage can accumulate.

Major oxidative stress can cause grave disturbances in cell metabolism and contribute to human disease. Tissue damage and injury can also lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause DNA damage, lipid peroxidation, protein damage and ischemic (lack of oxygen) injury.

The human body constantly produces free radicals and other oxygen-derived molecules (such as hydrogen peroxide). It has a relatively small reserve of antioxidant defense capacity.

Today, people continuously subject themselves to many substances and activities that increase the level of free radicals in their bodies, so the body can easily become overpopulated with oxygen-derived species that upset cell biochemistry. Sources of free radicals include metabolism by-products, macrophages and neutrophils, UV radiation, pollution, fatty foods, chemicals, alcohol, cigarette smoke and exercise.

Free Radicals: Associated diseases and conditions

Many conditions have been linked to free radical damage and oxidative stress: Allergies Alzheimer's Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Cancer, including bladder, breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, skin (melanoma), ovarian/endometrial, prostate, stomach, upper digestive tract Cardiovascular Disease Cataracts Cystic Fibrosis Diabetes Diabetic Neutrophy Glaucoma Huntington's Disease Macular Degeneration Multiple Sclerosis Muscular Dystrophy Pancreatitis Parkinson's Disease Rheumatoid Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions Schizophrenia Stroke Tardive Dyskinesia.

Flavonoids: Combating Free Radicals

Flavonoids are antioxidant compounds found in plants, and are natural disease-preventing, health-promoting dietary substances. Epidemiological studies have shown that higher intake of flavonoids is associated with lower disease frequency and better health. However, studies have also shown that our normal intake of flavonoids through eating a range of fruits and vegetables is not adequate with today's average diets.

Flavonoids are some of the most powerful and effective antioxidant compounds available to humans - and since we are unable to produce flavonoids ourselves, we must get them from the food we eat and from supplements.

Pine bark extract is a particularly good source of highly concentrated flavonoid compounds. Enzogenol®, with its pure water extraction process, is one of the most effective ways in which we can stock up on the amounts of flavonoids we need to protect our health.

Flavonoids: More Than Mere Antioxidants

Flavonoids are diverse both in their characteristics and chemical structures. More than 4000 flavonoids have been identified and some say there could be as many as 20,000 in plants.

A well-balanced extract reflects the full spectrum of flavonoid compounds, including proanthocyanidins, across all molecular weights. In addition to the antioxidant activity, plant flavonoids have a wide range of other biological effects including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, collagen stabilizing, and important effects on cell signaling. Flavonoids from many plant sources have been used throughout the world as medical treatments for many ailments and disorders.

All plant extracts are made up of many compounds, with the range related to the biological evolution of the source material. All materials are not equal in this regard. Over time, evolution has developed very complex compounds that provide sophisticated defense mechanisms for plants. Tree bark is nature's ultimate defense system, providing protection to trees for decades and even centuries.

Flavonoid Research

Research into flavonoids has dramatically increased over the past two decades. However, they first came into the spotlight in the 1930s when Szent-Györgyi and his colleagues extracted two flavonoids from citrus fruit. They investigated the effects of the flavonoids and found they decreased the fragility and permeability of people's capillaries. This is why flavonoids were then called "vitamin P" - for permeability.

This was probably the first study to explore the effect of flavonoids on human health, but the work could not be repeated so the claim that flavonoids were vitamins was dropped in the 1950s.

Since then, many biological effects countering inflammatory, bacterial, viral, microbial, hormonal, carcinogenic, neoplastic and allergic disorders (Middleton, 1996) have been reported for flavonoids in in vitro and in vivo systems.

Flavonoids exert these antioxidant effects by neutralizing all types of oxidizing radicals (Bors et al, 1998) including the superoxide (Robak, et al, 1998) and hydroxyl radicals (Husain, et al, 1987) and by chelation. A chelator binds to metal ions in our bodies to prevent them being available for oxidation.