Pine bark extract has been used as a wound-healing agent, a way to prevent scurvy and in pine bark bread.

A compound with multiple health benefits that has been on the U.S. dietary supplement market for 30 years is now available for food products.

Natural Health Science (NHS-Hillside, N.J.) has officially launched Pycnogenol® into the functional foods market. Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract, was reviewed by a panel of independent toxicology experts and determined to be GRAS, based on scientific procedures in the self-affirmation process, in accordance with the FDA.

Pycnogenol has become known in the dietary supplement market for its use as an antioxidant that also reduces inflammation in the body and strengthens the vascular system. Pycnogenol contains about 70% procyanidins, and also contains phenolic acids including benzoic acid derivatives and cinnamic acid derivatives. It is a free-flowing powder that has a pink to reddish-brown color, aromatic aroma, and astringent flavor.

According to George Burdock, Ph.D., diplomat of the American Board of Toxicologists, Pycnogenol has been studied in 32 clinical studies, including 2,062 participants; eight of the clinical studies were double-blind placebo-controlled, and seven were placebo-controlled. The ingredient has been tested intensively to prove its low acute and chronic toxicity, it is non-allergenic, and non-mutagenic. It has few side effects with only 1% reporting mild gastrointestinal upset.

Pycnogenol has been clinically studied for its diverse antioxidant applications. One interesting clinical application that is emerging is its role in the prevention of vascular complications of diabetes. Diabetics could benefit from extra antioxidant protection, as diabetes increases free radical production, and may result in damage to the body including increasing risk of heart attack, nerve damage (especially to the eyes diabetic retinopathies), cataracts and blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness for people under the age of 60 in the U.S. It is the gradual process of eye damage resulting from high blood glucose levels that alters the tiny capillaries supplying blood and oxygen to the retina of the eye. Pycnogenol has been studied in five European clinical studies for its use in protecting the diabetic eye and sometimes even restoring visual acuity when damage had already been done. For this application, over 1,100 participants were studied with a daily dosage of between 20-160mg of Pycnogenol daily.

Functional food applications include baked goods, breakfast cereals, breakfast bars, jams and jellies, soft candy, chewing gum, margarine, sauces, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Pycnogenol is considered GRAS for use up to 20ppm in the above food applications, and 10ppm in the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage applications.

For more information:

Victor Ferrari at +41 22 710 26 26

Horphag Research Write in 402