Pycnogenol OPC (oligomeric proanthocyanidin) compounds form a powerful antioxidant complex that neutralizes dangerous free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules — short one electron — that smash wildly against other cells, seeking to knock free and “steal” the electron that will bring them stability and balance.
Free radicals damage healthy cells. This damage, also known as “oxidative stress,” has been linked to many different health concerns, including heart disease, macular degeneration and cognitive decline. Plus, free radicals’ constant cellular smashing and damage has been theorized to accelerate the aging process.
In order to combat free radicals, the body needs substances called antioxidants to be freely flowing through the body and blood plasma. Antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals, peacefully neutralizing them and ending their cellular smashing rampage. For this reason, antioxidant compounds are often regarded as having anti-aging benefits.
Pycnogenol may perfect anti-aging supplement because of its unique antioxidant properties:
- It is one of the most potent antioxidants known.
- It is actually a network of different flavonoids. This is significant because antioxidants are believed to work best in concert with one another.
- It has been found to boost other antioxidants: It “recycles” vitamin C and protects vitamin E. and glutathione from degrading.
- It has been found to block certain enzymatic reactions within the body that result in the creation of more free radicals.
So what happens to overall antioxidant status when we take Pycnogenol supplements? In one small study of 25 healthy volunteers took 150 mg of Pycnogenol every day for six weeks, and were then monitored for an additional four week “washout” phase. Throughout the study, the subjects blood was tested for oxygen radical absorbent capacity (ORAC), a method for measuring antioxidant activity.
- At the study’s end, the researchers concluded that Pycnogenol supplementation significantly elevates ORAC in the blood. Researchers noticed that during the time of PYC supplementation, antioxidant capacity was increased by 40% — leaving the study authors to suggest that PYC “considerably improves antioxidant protection in plasma.”