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Pycnogenol: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant

 Depression is a silent epidemic that finds 121 victims all over the world. According to, sadly, only 20 percent of the aforementioned population received treatment. The rest, the 80 percent, do not seek help and unfortunately, this is because they are unaware of it. (According to a study, people found with depression among the unemployed increases by 20 percent every year and those who are recently divorced as most prone to the condition.)

Medical researchers have looked for different ways to cure depression.  Several drugs and other medicines are available in the market but treatment is still a pain in the pocket as the health website estimates that healthcare cost for treating depression going as steep as $22,960.

However, there is a silver lining. One promising medical breakthrough is the discovery of pycnogenol, a US registered trademark product derived from the bark of the maritime pine tree (Pinus pinaster).  Discovered in 1535 by French explorer Jacques Cartier, the tree was initially used to make tea for sailors suffering from scurvy when his ship was icebound. 

Dr. Jacques Maquelier, after reading Cartier’s annals, patented the tree extract and named it pycnogenol. The term is derived from the Greek puknos (condensed) and genos (class, family).  The tree is predominantly found in the coastline of southwest France.  However, it has now reached South Africa where it blooms in the country’s slightly acidic soils.

Pycnogenol, which is produced from proanthocynaidins, an organic chemical found in apples, cinnamon, cocoa beans, grape fruit and the like, is known for its several health benefits, which include improving circulation, reducing inflammation and protecting collagen from natural degradation. 

With its ability to improve blood circulation, it is a promising treatment for depression.  The August Journal of Nuclear Medicine reports that improving blood circulation mitigates depression as it brings more blood supply to the brain and the nervous system.  A better blood circulation also improves the memory, lessens the effect of stress and provides fresh supply of blood throughout the body.  Pycnogenol was also found to reduce platelet clumping in smokers, thus, reducing blood clotting.

The US National Library of Medicine adds that pycnogenol can be used for treating allergies, asthma, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure, muscle soreness, pain, osteoarthritis, diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), endometriosis, menopausal symptoms, painful menstrual periods, erectile dysfunction and retinopathy. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant which blocks the action of free radicals or activated oxygen molecules that damage the cells.

Depression is treatable and with the growing number of people being affected by it, it is about time that it be addressed properly. Curing depression is a necessary step in creating a healthier and happier world.

People suffering from the symptoms of depression should immediately consult a psychiatrist to get the proper treatment.  - Desi Isidro, MSW, LCSW, HP

A natural alternative: nutraMetrix Oligomeric ProanthoCyanidins 3 (OPC3) and Advanced B Complex.

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