Capillaries are the body’s smallest blood vessels, so narrow that they can only carry red blood cells in single file. Capillaries enable the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues throughout the body, as well as enabling the removal of wastes.
Capillaries are permeable in that they selectively allow compounds to enter and leave the body’s tissues. This includes small molecules, like water and nutrients to larger cells, such as immune cells and blood cells.
When capillaries become inflamed or structurally damaged, excessive permeability may result. Some capillary problems resulting from this damage may include:
- Edema: A swelling problem caused by excess fluid from “leaky” capillaries.
- Spider Veins: Just like varicose veins, but affecting the capillaries.
- Broken Capillaries on Face (Telangiectasia): Damaged (not actually “broken”), permanently dilated capillaries.
- Diabetic Retinopathy: High blood sugar weakens retinal capillaries in the eyes, leading to blurring, double vision and vision loss..
PYC has been suggested to assist with permeability problems in capillaries by nourishing and supporting their structural integrity.
In one study that investigated how Pycnogenol might help to support capillaries in patients with retinal problems, researchers made the following observation:
It has been suggested that Pycnogenol may bind to the blood vessel wall proteins and mucopolysaccharides and produce a capillary ‘sealing’ effect, leading to a reduced capillary permeability and edema formation.
The researchers went on to report Pycnogenol benefits for diabetic retinopathy, suggesting it appeared to not only slow the progression of retinopathy, but also enhance visual acuity in some of the study subjects.
In conclusion, this study’s authors confirm PYC’s multiple biological activities, naming three of its four health-promoting actions: “The mechanism of action of Pycnogenol may be related to its free radical (FR) scavenging [antioxidant], anti-inflammatory and capillary protective activities.”
Due to these actions, some supplement with Pycnogenol for spider veins, broken capillaries and edema concerns — reinforcing PYC’s reputation for optimizing circulatory health, including the microcirculation that is so important for overall health.
Spadea L, Balestrazzi E. Treatement of Vascular Retinopathies with Pycnogenol. Phytotherapy Research 15, 219-223 (2001)