The Spice of Life
I'm always looking for the hottest new health food supplements on the market. Not just fly-by-night fads, but products that really do the job and are likely to stick around. Last time, I spoke about MCT's, but this time I want to talk about what Dr. J. Masquelier of the University of Bordeaux isolated, identified, and characterized in 1986 as "Pycnogenols" -- natural plant products shown to have powerful free radical scavenging activity that can counteract the effects of aging. They were discovered after 20 years of intense study to be a concentrate of a special class of water-soluble bioflavonoids that are almost instantly bioavailable in a human being.
For those of you that don't know, bioflavonoids are a group of low-molecular weight plant substances with recognized anti oxidant (free radical scavenging) properties that have the ability to inhibit the activity of certain enzymes which cause inflammation in the body. There are over 20,000 different kinds, some more active than others, some more valuable than others. Unfortunately, until the discovery of pycnogenols, few have shown biological value in the laboratory and have not performed well when manufactured in commercial quantities, especially when tested in living animals.
Although bioflavonoids are not true vitamins in the strictest sense, they are sometimes referred to as vitamin P, acting synergistically with vitamin C to protect and preserve the structure of capillary blood vessels. They also have an antibacterial effect and promote circulation, stimulate bile production, lower cholesterol levels, and treat and prevent cataracts. When taken with vitamin C, they also reduce the symptoms of oral herpes.
It may be hard to believe, but Pycnogenols are 50 times more effective than vitamin E in fighting free radicals -- the Tasmanian-like devils that bounce around in our bodies, banging into healthy cells, damaging DNA, altering biochemical compounds, corroding cell membranes and killing cells outright. They are present in our bodies at all times, emanating from industrial pollution, tobacco smoke, x-rays, car exhaust, ozone and other environmental pollutants. They're ruthless and indiscriminatory in their actions, and if they hit a good cell hard enough, they can and do cause incredible damage, also contributing to wrinkles and stiff joints.
Pycnogenols are, without question, the "superstrain" of bioflavonoids, especially those that come from grape pips, and are the most powerful natural free radical scavenger and anti oxidant yet discovered. They're incredible. Not only does the body absorb them in less than an hour, they also have the unique ability to bond to collagen fibers, rebuilding their crosslinks to reverse some of the damage done over the years by injury and free radical attack. They even inhibit the natural enzymes our bodies make that normally break down collagen.
The amount of Pycnogenols one should take varies from person to person, but obviously, larger people can handle more than smaller people. Therapeutic doses tend to range from 1.5 to 3.0 milligrams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. That is to say, a 150 pound man or woman would begin by taking between 100 mgs to 200 mgs (in order to reach tissue saturation), then would cut back after 7 to 10 days to one-half or less -- about 50 to 60 milligrams per day -- which would replace what's eliminated over a 24 hour period.
I know by now you're probably saying, " Do we really need another supplement in our lives?" Well, the answer is yes! Biochemistry is a young science. We learn more and more each year about our bodies and what's required to keep them healthy and free of disease. We know now, for example, that the familiar vitamins and minerals most of us take every day represent only a small portion of the health-building nutrients we find in our fruits, vegetables, and other foods. The astonishing importance of bioflavonoids (pycnogenols in particular) have only recently been recognized, representing a true advance in contemporary health care.
So, if you think you can get enough bioflavonoids from eating commercial fruits and vegetables, you better think twice. Have you thought about how modern growing techniques and food distribution have reduced or eliminated altogether the valuable nutrients we used to get out of our foods during previous decades? Probably not, since we're all so snowed by what big business brainwashes us into thinking. Believe me, it comes down to the almighty buck -- picking fruit before it's fully ripened, and harvesting vegetables before they're fully mature may produce a lot more product each year, but in the end, it reduces, and in some cases, eliminates the bioflavonoid content of food altogether. Freezing, canning, and cooking also has a catastrophic effect and will do its best to denature nutrients.
In closing, I suggest you begin to follow in the footsteps of many Europeans and American Indians who continue to rely on the alternative treating methods available today, rather than traditional medical remedies. Many people today are in search of wholly pure, safe and effective alternatives. In Finland, for example, users swear that pycnogenols are the only thing to take for hay fever. Also, in other countries, women take pycnogenols as a kind of oral cosmetic, keeping their skin elastic, smooth, and wrinkle-free by restoring the collagen and protecting it from free radical and enzymatic degradation.
Until next time, stay strong and sweet.
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