Article on Anti-oxidants/OPCs by the late Paul Benson:

OK, it’s story time again,….
In 1534 Jaques Cartier was exploring the ‘”New World”. He led an expedition up the St. Lawrence river and stayed a little too long into the autumn around Lake Champlain and got himself, or rather his ship, frozen in ice. He was forced to winter there and he and his crew had to live on rations of salt pork and hard tack (whatever that is!). They had no fruits or vegetables. Within a few months over half his crew had died of scurvy A local Indian, observing their plight taught Cartier how to prepare tea from pine bark and needles. This tea quickly cleared up their scurvy, but it also cleared up long standing chronic syphilis as well.

A modem researcher, Professor Jaques Masquelier of the University of Bordeaux was in Quebec in 1964 and read this account of his fellow countryman and became intrigued that pine needles actually cured an incurable. Being interested in bioflavonoids he began extensive testing on the bark of the Pinus Maratima, the type that the explorers consumed years earlier. He was able to identify a unique group of bioflavonoids which he called proanthocyanidins or Pycnogenols. In 1951 he patented the process.

So, apart from the fact that it was discovered by a French explorer over 450 years ago, it’s brand new; modern usage was only identified in 1986, when the French Professor Masquelier also found a way of extracting the active ingredient from grape seeds. So as far as we are concerned it is brand new; I’ve been eating it for a while now and even on top of everything else I eat I can still feel a big lift from it.

And yes…grape seeds-red wine…yes that’s why it’s good for you (in fact Pycnogenols are also found in some East European white wines as well). This is the famous so-called French Paradox – the findings that the alcoholic soaked French wine drinkers get less heart disease and live longer than non-drinkers. For a while it was thought that being that the wine contains high levels of OPC’s, Oligomeric ProanthCyanidins.

The terms OPC, proanthocyanidins and Pycnogenols are largely interchangable. For our purposes though all three terms can be taken to refer to the same thing.

Whatever we choose to call them they are getting more and more popular and you may even see them on the shelves of your local health shop. I really believe that Pycnogenol is truly one of the foods of the future. Everyone is beginning to find out about it and you are going to see OPCs achieving a higher and higher profile over the coming years.

Pycnogenols are a combination of an extract of grape seeds and European pine bark and are a special family of water soluble bioflavonoids. Using this blend insures a balanced cross section of the total family of proanthocyanidins which provide individual as well as synergistic benefits. It is important to have both types – the grape seed OPC is oil soluble and the pine bark one is water soluble; brands offering just one type will have limited efficacy.

Proanthocyanidins are free radical scavengers that protect us from many damaging environmental elements that work against our immune system and accelerate aging. They are the most potent antioxidant protector known – the usual figures quoted are as much as 50 times more potent than vitamin E and 20 times more potent than vitamin C, but in Revenol these figures are muteipilied by a further factor of three. The anti-oxidants in Revenol are 60 times as powerful as Vitamin C and 150 times as powerful as vitzmin E.

A unique property of Pycnogenols is that they readily cross the blood/brain barrier, and are so readily absorbed that within one hour of eating them all body tissues will contain Pycnogenol.

Pycnogenols are the ultimate “anti-ager”; they protect the brain from oxidation (don’t confuse this with oxygenation – the brain needs more oxygen than any other organ). They inhibit enzymes that cause inflammation and they improve circulation and capillary integrity. Pycnogenols are uniquely able to protect and restore collagen, helping return flexibility to skin, joints, arteries and other tissues (including the eyes, helping with short sight).

I have had great success with this food, both personally and with those “difficult” cases where nothing seems to work. Pycnogenol often produces aresponse where other things have failed. I have two customers with professional Harley Street addresses for this miraculous new food.

Initially Resonance offered a brand that we personally imported from America and then we were introduced to a version at two thirds the price that as well as the grape seed and pine bark also included circuminoids that we were told could well turn out to be an even more powerful OPC. Ginkgo Biloba, Vitamin E and Vitamin C completed the recipe which is all held together in a phytosome base. We tried them ourselves and suggested some of our regular customers try them and the response was unanimous – everyone preferred them.

Since then we have discovered that the anti-oxidant level in curcuminoids is almost three times higher than the amount found in pycnogenols from maritime bark or grape seed extracts. This makes it sixty times higher than anti-oxidant levels in Vitamin C and a staggering 150 times higher then levels in Vitamin E.

The phytosome base is interesting as well; micro-spheres that bond to the intestinal wall potentially allow up to 400% more of the vital ingredients to be digested and absorbed. This patented phytosome system means that the anti-oxidants from the pycnogenols in this brand can be digested as easily as vitamins. So not only are the anti-oxidants in this product more bio-available, but the percentage that can be digested is greater as well – around 20% of the anti-oxidants ingested are absorbed through the intestinal wall.

So they are more powerful, more bio-available and more digestible. They are also cheaper.

The brand is called Revenol and it comes from a company called Neways. It is typical of this company that Revenol is still less expensive than a lot of the competition despite the fact that it uniquely offers the curcuminoids which is not only a more potent ingredient but also as a raw material is very expensive.

In fact Neways are a really exciting company and have a range of products that are all truly amazing – from wrinkle removers to herbal strength and endurance foods that catapulted the Chinese women’s Olympic team from obscurity to stardom (The energisers not the wrinkle creams!). This same formula, Ming Gold, that help the athletes shatter world records (including slashing 42 seconds off the 10,000 meter record) can also help in recuperation, convalescence and general vitality levels in the less competitive but health and vitality conscious among us.

They are a great company that we are getting more and more involved with – details of other Neways highlights are in the 1997 Welcome…pack. I have a cassette tape on Pycnogenol that I defy anyone to listen to and not want to try the food. The tape refers to taking ten tablets per day but with Revenol the suggested protocol is two tablets twice per day to build up levels in the body and then one twice per day. Another plus for the super potent RevenoL But having said that, taking more can bring about staggering results…