The most unique & versatile food supplement
The role of Pycnogenol® in human health and disease
As scientists, our goal is to help people live better longer. The discovery process is only part of our mission. We will not have fulfilled our mission until we have assured our findings reach beyond the clinical setting and reach those who can bene-fit. This is what we seek to accomplish with this book.
We will discuss many of the health benefits of the nutritional supplement, Pycno-genol® (pronounced pic-noj-en-all). Some of the major health benefits, such as heart and artery health, protect against degeneration and help protect life and wellness. Pycnogenol® boosts the immune system and helps keep blood vessels and capillaries strong, flexible and open. Other Pycnogenol® benefits support a life full of energy and joy, as well as quality of life concerns such as healthy, younger-looking skin, a healthy sex life and normal, pain-free movement.
Our message is the health benefits of Pycnogenol®, many of which have been elucidated under Professor Rohdewald’s leadership. Professor Rohdewald has conducted much of the research in his laboratory as well as guided the modern research in other laboratories.
The Pycnogenol® story begins with the recognition that an extract of pine bark was used by Native North Americans to restore health at least as long ago as the 1500s. A commercial extract from the bark of French Maritime Pine trees was developed in France in 1953 and called Pycnogenol®. The name “Pycnogenol®” is based on Greek words depicting to chemists that the large bioflavonoid nutrients are formed when the bark joins together smaller bioflavonoid molecules. By the late 1970s, Pycno-genol® was known for its anti-inflammatory action, improvement in capillary health and better skin. Since Professor Rohdewald was a leading pharmaceutical researcher, a physician friend asked him to investigate this patented extract.
As Professor Rohdewald recollects, “My interest in Pycnogenol® began in 1982 when a friend, a medical doctor, entered my office at the university and asked if I spoke French. I answered: Yes, a bit, but, why are you asking? He explained to me that he was interested in a dietary supplement from France that reduces discomfort of seasonal allergies. My physician friend asked the manufacturer for clinical studies but found that they were only in French. He asked if I would make a German language summary of the French language studies. I agreed and he gave me a stack of documents. After a quick read of the studies, I thought it would be a fun idea to travel with this package of French journals to France to spend my holidays there while learning about this French health ingredient at the same time.”
“My family and I travelled to France to the Landes de Gascoigne forest near to the Bay of Biscay region of the Atlantic Ocean. The forest consisted of miles and miles of pine trees. For about two weeks, I was sitting in the shade of pine trees, translating the French documents. I realized during the translation that the thick, brown bark of the pine trees around us, more exactly the French maritime pine trees (Pinus pinaster atlantica), was the raw material for Pycnogenol®, which was the subject of all these articles. The nutrients extracted from the bark are a specific blend of active bioflavonoids, also found in fresh fruits and vegetables.”
“The forest had been planted by order of Napoleon III to halt the erosion of the sandy heath land by the strong Atlantic winds, to cleanse the soil and to start a timber industry. The pine trees cover now an area of about 3,900 square miles. They flank the beautiful sandy beach from near the vineyards of Bordeaux to the north and the Pyrenees Mountains to the south of Biarritz, the silver coast. This forest is the largest forest in Western Europe and it provides the bark as an abundant source of raw material for the production of Pycnogenol®. It is a totally unspoiled environment, because population density is small, except mid-summer, when tourists invade the beaches.”
“The bark is not gathered from uncut trees, but is taken from trees freshly harvested for timber. The forest is managed according to the rules of Good Agricultural Practice. New trees have to be planted after harvesting the large pines, which are used very intensively. The wood of the trees ends up mainly in furniture and construction material. The pine bark is used for the extraction of Pycnogenol®. The extraction plant for the bark is situated in the middle of pristine French forest.”
“By the end of our vacation, I had finished the translations and was able to submit the first article about Pycnogenol® to a German medical paper. By now, I was extremely excited and intrigued by Pycnogenol®. During these weeks I had learned that Pycnogenol® had positive effects on eye health, micro-bleedings (pinpoint drops of blood that leaked from blood vessels) and edema (fluid in tissue) of the lower legs. At this time, the clinical studies were mostly detailed case reports. Knowledge about the ingredients of the maritime pine bark and the mode of action was sparse at that time. As a pharmaceutical researcher, this is what interests me most. Thus, I set out to investigate this pine bark extract more deeply, which is what I did during the next ten years.”
“During this time we worked in my laboratories at the University of Münster, Germany, on the analysis and bioavailability of Pycnogenol® and were able to elaborate a method to standardize the composition of the complex extract. As a result, the Pharmacopoeia of the United States (USP) describes Pycnogenol® in full detail in the monograph “Maritime pine extract” Since then there have been a great number of studies – more than 100 published clinical studies and 300 scientific publications. The studies started with in vitro tests which led to controlled clinical trials. They are the scientific basis that demonstrate the vast potential of Pycnogenol® for human health.”
“As my studies continued, I became more and more interested in the health benefits of Pycnogenol®. Eventually, I became a consultant to the manufacturer, Horphag Research, Ltd and upon my retirement from teaching, I helped direct their research program.”
Dr. Passwater, a leading nutritional scientist who has never had an affiliation with Horphag Research, Ltd., recalls his first meeting with Professor Rohdewald in 1993. “I had been researching the synergism of antioxidant nutrients since 1959 and when I read a report indicating that Pycnogenol® was a more powerful antioxidant than both vitamin C and vitamin E, I became very interested. After searching the scientific literature for all published studies on Pycnogenol®, I decided to visit the main researchers involved with Pycnogenol® studies. The number of scientific publications was small then, now they number in the hundreds.
“I started with Professor Rohdewald in his laboratory at the University of Münster in Germany during the 1000 year anniversary of the founding of Münster. I also visited with Professor Antti Arstila of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland during October, 1993 and Professor Miklos Gabor of the Albert Szent-Gyorgyi Medical University of Szeged, Hungary while he attended a scientific congress in Paris. Professor Arstila was researching Pycnogenol® and skin health, while Professor Gabor was conducting clinical research on Pycnogenol® and capillary health.”
“Professor Rohdewald and his grad students reviewed their research with me and walked me through their present studies. Their earlier efforts had been directed towards determining the nutrients in the patented extract and their exact concentrations. Of course, since Professor Rohdewald was a pharmaceutical researcher, they had also investigated the parameters such as absorption, bioavailability, and circulation in the blood, target organs and toxicology. Since several of the bioflavonoid nutrients had not yet been widely studied, they were also investigating the biochemistry of these nutrients.
Professor Rohdewald had already established the safety and efficacy of Pycnogenol® and further whetted my appetite to learn of its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. I then set out to visit the other Pycnogenol® researchers. As it turned out, through the years, I have had the honor and privilege of sharing the podium at several scientific symposia.”
This collaboration was decided upon during Dr. Passwater’s most recent effort to update the Pycnogenol® story. Although Dr. Passwater had written six books on Pycnogenol®, rapidly expanding research was uncovering important additional health benefits that need to be brought to the public’s attention. These newly verified health benefits have become so extensive and rapidly uncovered that a new book is required to update health professionals and consumers alike. Since so much of the modern research has been led by Professor Rohdewald, it seems only logical and fitting that the two co-author this book. This is a common practice when scientists publish their research or edit books.
Professor Rohdewald will describe the research and Dr. Passwater will discuss how it impacts health. We hope the information will help you live better longer.
Professor Dr. Peter Rohdewald, Ph.D.
Münster August 2014
Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.
Berlin, Maryland August 2014