Pine Bark Extract Background and Benefits
Pinus massoniana is the scientific name for a species of pine tree. It is commonly known by various names such as horsetail pine and Masson’s pine. P. massoniana typically grows below 1,500 meters, although it can reach 2,000 meters.
This pine tree can grow to a height of 45 meters, with a broad crown that contains long branches. The needle-like leaves can be as long as eight inches, and the cones can approach three inches in length. The bark is initially orange or red, which darkens to greyish-brown as the tree ages. The cones open in late winter, and the seeds are released in mid-spring.
The primary commercial value of P. massoniana is in plantation forestry, where it replaces natural forests. It also provides commercial sources of rosin and turpentine. The logs are primarily used for paper manufacture, and the leaves are often used as a tea flavoring.
The most pharmaceutically active components in P. massoniana bark are a class of polyphenols known as proanthocyanidins. The natural purpose of these chemicals is to defend against insects and microorganisms that attack the tree. The French chemist Jacques Masquelier first extracted oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) from pine bark and grape seeds in 1947. He later patented this process and continued his research on OPCs into the 1980s.
OPCs are often used in health supplements for their antioxidant activity. This property allows them to inhibit the reactions of free radicals that would otherwise damage the cells in your body, especially the membranes. Antioxidants therefore provide a large number of specific benefits.
Uses of Pine Bark Extract
The most significant uses of pine bark extract relates to the value of OPCs as an antioxidant. The specific benefits include healthy inflammation management in addition to support for connective tissue and capillaries.
OPCs are effective against an unusually large number of oxidizing agents. This action helps to defy many of the visible signs of aging, especially in the skin.
Connective tissue support
OPCs can help support the proteins that comprise cartilage and tendons. This action allows these tissues to retain their normal elasticity.
OPCs help maintain the health of the vascular system, especially the capillary network.
Healthy inflammation management
OPCs may help to support healthy inflammation management. In particular, they may help to support blood vessel walls.
Signs You May Need Pine Bark Extract
The antioxidant properties of OPCs mean that any decline in general health could indicate a need for pine bark extract. The most obvious of these signs often affect the skin, giving it an aged appearance. Inflammatory conditions may also mean that you could benefit from pine bark.
Additional signs that pine bark could help you include a lack of elasticity in your cartilage and tendons. Edema is often the result of an unhealthy capillary network, which can be helped by pine bark.
Synonyms and Similar Forms of Pine Bark Extract
Horsetail pine, Masson’s pine, P. massoniana