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The Facts about GRAPE SEED EXTRACT


Pycnogenol™ vs Grape Seed Extract Proanthocyanidin by Clark Hansen, N.M.D.

The following excerpt is a response to some misinformation being reported by distributors of Kaire International and other companies regarding Pycnogenol™, a Proanthocyanidin extract of pine bark, in comparison to Proanthocyanidin extracted from grape seeds. Clark Hansen, N.D. is a widely renowned expert on grape seed extract.

MYTH #1) The Food Supplement Industry is unscrupulous to make a buck, selling grape seed extract as "Pycnogenol" which is a trade marked name for pine bark extract proanthocyanidin.

Truth: Jacques Masquelier coined the word pycnogenol to describe an entire class of bioflavanoids that are composed of polyphenols, or Proanthocyanidin complexes, also referred to as Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Complexes (OPCs). Masquelier patented a process to extract Proanthocyanidin from both pine bark in 1951, and grape seeds in 1970. The name pycnogenol, was intended as a scientific name for this class of bioflavanoids, whether extracted from pine bark, lemon tree bark, grape seeds, grape skins, or cranberries, etc. To use it as a trade name for Proanthocyanidin extracted only from pine bark is like using the name Tocopherol, the scientific name for Vitamin E, as a trademark only for Vitamin E extracted from soybeans, and prohibiting its rightful scientific use in describing the Vitamin E extracted from wheat germ, or sunflower seed, etc. The use of the name Pycnogenol™ is currently being contested on these grounds in court.

MYTH #2) All Proanthocyanidins are not created equal - every plant is chemically and genetically different.

Truth: Proanthocyanidins are virtually identical whether they come from pine bark, grape seeds, lemon tree bark, cranberries, or hazel nut tree leaves. The difference is in the varying concentration in the different plants. Grape Seed Extract Proanthocyanidin yields a 95 % concentration, the highest concentration of any known source, which is 10% higher than the yield obtained from pine bark.

MYTH #3) Horphag Research Ltd., & Jacques Masquelier had two consecutive contracts, from 1969 - 1989. (Since Horphag produces Proanthocyanidin only from pine bark, this implies that Dr. Masquelier considered pine bark extract to be superior to grape seed extract.)

Truth: In 1991, after Dr. Masquelier left Horphag, he said,"OPC extracted from pine bark is based on a patent which was deposited in 1951 in France (French patent no. 1036922 / date: 9 - 05 - 51; inventor: J. Masquelier). OPC extracted from grape pips is based on a patent which was deposited in 1970 (French Patent no. 2092743; inventors: J. Masquelier and J. Michaud)

The enormous scientific progress which occurred during the 20 years which separate these two inventions, laid the basis for the very exacting chemical, biological and clinical research performed with OPC from grape pip's.

The reason OPC from grape pips was favored over OPC from pine bark is the following: To establish and demonstrate the bioavailability of OPC it is necessary to give the OPC an isotopic marking (14C) - This marking is accomplished by the plant being cultivated in an atmosphere which contains "14" marked C02 icrophytotron. " It is self-evident that, due to its limited dimensions, only the grapevine can be used for this type of experiment.

Thus, all the research performed with isotopic marking was based on the marking of grape vines. The results of this research show OPC's ways of activity its specific affinity for collagen and the duration of its fixation to living tissue.

All these tests were necessary because OPC from grape pips is marketed in France as a pharmaceutical product. From 1972 to 1978 intensive analytical, toxicological, pharmacological cological and clinical studies have been performed with OPC from grape pips to obtain authorization to market the extract as a medicine. The "grape pip" results have been extrapolated to "pine bark."

I underline that in 1986 I discovered that OPC from grape pips has an intense free radical scavenging effect (FRSE) on radical oxygen species. These discoveries were laid down in my U.S. Patent (no 4,698,360) of Oct. 6, 1987; "Radical Scavenging Effect of Proanthocyanidins". All FRSE tests were performed with OPC manufactured by SARPAP Ysofine. The tests showed that in this respect, OPC from grape pips has an advantage over OPC from Pine bark. OPC from grape pips contains the gallic esters of proanthocyanidins (in particular: Proanthocyanidin B2-3' -0-gallate) . These proanthocyanidins - esters have been recently described as the most active substances in the battle against free radicals. "October 1991, Martiliac, France, (Procyanidines de France/3)

MYTH #4) Pycnogenol has been shown to prevent LDL oxidation and to have a protective action against UVB radiation. The same cannot be stated of Grape Seed Extract.

Truth: As described directly above in response to statement three, Grape Seed Extract has been shown to possess an even more potent antioxidant than Pycnogenol(tm). Any biochemist and all of the researchers studying Proanthocyanidin bioflavanoids will tell you that as a class, the Proanthocyanidin bioflavanoids, regardless of their source, possess the same biochemical activity, with only slight variations. As stated above, all of research using isotopic marking of Proanthocyanidin, showing its "ways of activity, its specific affinity for collagen and the duration of its fixation to living tissue," was performed on grape vines and has been extrapolated to Pycnogenol". Likewise, research studying the ability of Proanthocyanidin extracted from pine bark to prevent oxidation of LDL Cholesterol or oxidative damage from UVB radiation, can be extrapolated to Proanthocyanidin extracted from grape seeds.

MYTH #5) Pycnogenol decreases histamine activity and allergic reactions. There is no demonstration of this effect in Grape Seed Extract.

Truth: In June 1981, Pierre Agache published the results of a study he conducted at the Clinique Dermatologique, in Besancon, France, which impressively demonstrated the inhibition of histamine induced hives by oral administration of Endotelon, a 95% Proanthocyanidin Grape Seed Extract. (La Vie medicale 16 - 1981 Junell)

MYTH #6) Grape seeds are heavily exposed to pesticides, fungicides and insecticides, while the maritime pine trees from which Pycnogenol™ is extracted are known in a chemical free environment along the Atlantic coast of France.

Truth: Grapes are consumed throughout the world and inspected regularly in the U.S. to make certain that they do not contain harmful residues. The Atlantic coast of France is not a "chemical free" environment. The pine trees that grow along the coast are not protected from air pollution or oil spills which do occur off the coast of France.

MYTH #7) Grape Seed Extract uses several solvents which leave residues in the finished product.

Truth: The extraction process of Proanthocyanidins from grape seeds removes this concern. This is insured by the regular monitoring of sophisticated scientific equipment following stringent standards of purity and quality assurance. Every batch of Grape Seed Extract is certified free of any chemical residues.

MYTH #8) Pycnogenol™ is processed fresh, only hours after the bark is removed from the trees. This assures the highest quality of the extract and avoids any biological degradation or fermentation.

Truth: Grape Seed Extract is likewise processed before the seeds degrade or ferment.

MYTH #9) The recommended therapeutic dose in France is a 150 mg compared to only 25mg of Pycnogenol™. This results in the use of approximately six times more Grape Seed Extract, which makes it far more expensive to use than Pycnogenol™ .

Truth: Although most Pycnogenol™ is sold in 20 mg capsules in the U.S., doctors who are recommending it to their patients will tell you that they get the best results when they recommend a dose of 20 mg per every 20 lbs of body weight, or approximately 150 - 200 mg per day. That is the precisely the same dose that is recommended in France for the Grape Seed Extract.

MYTH #10) In France, Grape Seed Extract has been taken off the list of reimbursable medicines, Pycnogenol(tm) has not.

Truth: Grape Seed Extract has most certainly not been taken off the list of reimbursable medicines in France. As a matter of fact, in France, where both pine bark extract and grape seed extract have been used for decades, the grape seed extract outsells the pine bark by 400%.

MYTH #11) Horphag Research, Ltd. has spent millions of dollars over the past 25 years thoroughly researching & studying Pycnogenol(tm) to the point that today there is elaborate safety & efficiency data on file to support the product.

Truth: As mentioned previously, the size of pine trees prohibited much of the research from being performed on pine trees. As stated by Dr. Masquelier,

"It is self-evident that, due to its limited dimensions, only the grape vine can be used for this type of experiment.

Thus, all the research performed with isotopic marking was based on the marking of grape vines. The results of this research show OPC's ways of activity its specific affinity for collagen and the duration of its fixation to living tissue.

All these tests were necessary because OPC from grape pips is marketed as a pharmaceutical product. From 1972 to 1978 intensive analytical, toxicological, pharmacological and clinical studies have been performed with OPC from grape pips to obtain authorization to market the extract as a medicine. The "grape pip" results have been extrapolated to pine bark."

MYTH #12) Pycnogenol(tm) has been shown by accepted toxicological™ protocols to be totally non-toxic, non-mutagenic, and non-teratogenic.

Truth: The same is true of Grape Seed Extract. In fact, Grape Seed Extract has actually been shown to be anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic, and devoid of any toxic effect even at extraordinarily high doses (132 mg 1 lb body weight 1 day for 12 months in dogs). Grape Seed Extract has also been shown to be safe for conception, pregnant women & the unborn fetus, and to be devoid of any peri- or postnatal toxicity.

MYTH #13) Both Harphag, Research, Ltd. and MW, Intl. carry product liability for Pycnogenol(tm)

Truth: Indena, the 70 year old Italian herbal pharmaceutical company that produces most of the world's Grape Seed Extract Proanthocyanidin, carries millions of dollars in product liability.

MYTH #14) Recent scientific research suggests that the protective benefits for grapes are clearly shown to be from red grapes, not the seeds of any grapes. Early research conducted on grapes used only seeds from red grapes. Commercially available product today is taken from white grapes.

Truth: Recent research has confirmed what earlier studies had shown, that both the seeds of grapes as well as the skins contain proanthocyanidin, which is the molecule responsible for the protective and healing benefits. Proanthocyanidin is a specific class of bioflavanoids found in a wide number of plants, including purple, red and white grapes, as well as pine bark, lemon tree bark, hazel nut tree leaves, blue berries, cherries, cranberries and others. The most concentrated of these is the seeds of purple grapes. Proanthocyanidin bioflavanoids act virtually the same, regardless of the source. However, the therapeutic benefit has been shown to be dose dependent. Therefore, the product with the highest concentration can provide the greatest therapeutic benefit. Think of it this way, if you were given the option of buying one of two gold bars each weighing 16 ounces, which would you choose. The one with an 85 % concentration of gold, extracted from the coast of France, or the one with a 95% concentration of gold, extracted from vineyards across Italy and France?

MYTH #15) Pycnogenol™ has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant many times more potent than Vitamin C or E. The same cannot be assumed about white grape seed.

Truth: ...Grape Seed Extract has been shown to be 20 times more potent than Vitamin C and 50 times more potent than Vitamin E.

MYTH #16) Although Grape Seed Extract suppliers tend to mention U.S. patent 4,698,360 due to its mention of the Free Radical Scavenging Effect (FRSE) of Proanthocyanidin, the patent clearly emphasizes the extraction of pine bark and not just any plant with Proanthocyanidin content.

Truth: As mentioned earlier, in 1991, after Jacques Masquelier had terminated his contract with Harphag Research, Ltd., he sought to clarify this point by stating, "I underline that in 1986 I discovered that OPC from grape pips has an intense free radical scavenging effect (FRSE) on radical oxygen species. These discoveries were laid down in my U.S. Patent (no 4,698,360) of Oct. 6, 1987; "Radical Scavenging Effect of Proanthocyanidins". All FRSE tests were performed with OPC manufactured by SARPAP-Ysofine. The tests showed that in this respect, OPC from grape pips has an advantage over OPC from Pine bark. OPC from grape pips contains the gallic esters of proanthocyanidins (in particular: Proanthocyanidin B2 - 3' - 0 - gallate). These proanthocyanidins - esters have been recently described as the most active substances in the battle against free radicals."

MYTH #17) In addition to its high level of water soluble Proanthocyanidin content, we know of approximately 40 different components in Pycnogenol™ that directly contribute to its diverse benefit and value. Several key components of Pycnogenol™ are organic acids: caffeic acids, cinamic acid and ferulic acid, to name just a few, that either are not contained in Grape Seed Extract or are found in a much lower level.

Truth: Proanthocyanidin has been shown to be the active principle that makes both pine bark and Grape Seed Extract so effective as an antioxidant and collagen & elastin protector. All of the known benefits for both products can be attributed to one of these two actions. The other elements in the pine bark and the grape seeds give synergistic and supporting action. If they provide unique individual benefits of their own, this has yet to be demonstrated.

MYTH #18) No other product has the combined qualities that make Pycnogenol™ so effective and powerful, yet there are companies in the U.S. who claim that Grape Seed Extract is Pycnogenol™. Therefore, let the buyer beware. Be sure that you are using the real stuff.

Truth: Pycnogenol™ has an 85% concentration of Proanthocyanidin, the active molecule that makes it effective and powerful. Grape Seed Extract has a 95 % concentration of the very same Proanthocyanidin bioflavanoids. The two extracts are nearly identical, except that Grape Seed Extract has more of the active principle. Both products produce incredible results as testimonials for both indicate. The name has become a matter of contention as many scientists feel that Pycnogenol™ is a scientific term and should therefore not be used as a trademark.

As a doctor and a scientist I have investigated both thoroughly and have been impressed by both. From the published literature and the empirical data of hundreds of my own patients as well as the testimonials of others, both the pine bark and the grape seed extract appear to produce the same results. However, Grape Seed Extract has a 10% higher concentration of Proanthocyanidin, contains a more potent antioxidant, is more abundant, easier to grow, easier to harvest, and less expensive. For all of these reasons I have chosen to use Grape Seed Extract Proanthocyanidin... and have had remarkable success. When all of the facts are considered without bias, Grape Seed Extract is the obvious choice.

MYTH #19) The word Pycnogenol™ is a patented name and should be used only in conjunction with the Maritime extract.

Truth: The name Pycnogenol™, recommended by Masquelier in 1979 to describe the unique class of bioflavanoids composed of oligomeres (combinations of 2, 3, or 4 molecules) of Catechin and Epicatechin has not gained general acceptance. The name that has become accepted is Proanthocyanidin. This is the technical term that is now being used by scientists around the world who are continuing research on this incredible class of bioflavanoids. For this reason I also prefer to use the name Proanthocyanidin.

Sincerely yours,

Clark Hansen, N.D.


Please note that you can obtain a cassette tape on the miracles of DEFENDER and GRAPE SEED EXTRACT by Carl Hansen, N.D. from me. E-Mail me for more information or to get a free tape !

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