Believe it or not, the pine tree has long provided medicine to ailing people. As early as 1534, the North American Indians nursed Jacques Cartier and his crew of French explorers back to health from scurvy. They drank copious cups of pine needle and tree bark tea to replace a severe deficiency in Vitamin C, and also to improve the healing of various wounds. It turns out there are other medicinal secrets inherent in the bark of the pine tree that modern science is just beginning to uncover.
Pine bark extract coming from Pinus maritima, or the French maritime pine tree, is a known antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, and neuroprotective plant compound that has also been proven to inhibit HIV attachment and cell replication.
Early studies on pine bark extract show promise in treating HIV/AIDS since it suppresses the replication of HIV cells as well. Pycnogenol(R) (PYC), or procyanidin-rich pine bark, may possibly also be antimicorbial and antiviral. It also represses Helicobacter pylori (an unwanted bacteria) growth and adherence to gastric cells.
According to one study, scientists report:
“. . .PYC inhibits not only human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) binding to host cells, but also its replication after entry in susceptible cells in vitro. Prominent biochemical alterations induced by PYC were the elevated expression of an intracellular antioxidant protein, manganese superoxide dismutase (Mn-SOD), and the inhibition of phosphorylation of the ribosomal S6 protein. Interestingly, ectopic expression of Mn-SOD inhibited HIV-1 replication as well. Inhibition of HIV-1 replication associated with induced expression of Mn-SOD in cells treated with PYC suggests the potential of this natural antioxidant inducer as a new anti-HIV-1 agent.”
This helpful antioxidant grows all over the western Mediterranean, including Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, and Morocco. Interestingly, pine bark extract is sold under the name Pycnogenol as a pharmaceutical treatment for cancer and a chemotherapy support. It also appears naturally in Grapeseeds and other plants, which have been shown to halt cancerous cell growth better than chemotherapy, even in advanced cancer.
Pine bark extract combines a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and organic acids which offer extensive health benefits for cardiovascular health, anti-inflammatory disease, skin care, diabetes, menstrual disorders, and HIV/AIDS and cancer remission. The numerous benefits of pine bark extract show that the plant compound is likely much more than a super-antioxidant.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.