In order of relevance
OPC is short for "Oligameric Proanthocynidin Complex". I can personally offer no definitive proof that one brand of OPC, whether extracted from grape seed or pine bark (or a combination of both) is significantly better than another, although various companies have contacted me to make this claim. Examples below may assist in making your own informed product selection.
Prices of OPC vary widely depending on the manufacturer/distributor and the ingredients (sometimes unnecessarily) combined with the OPC. An effective dose of OPC in the treatment of ALS/MND would seem to be approximately 100mg daily, especially when combined with other antioxidant medications. OPC with added compounds may or may not assist in the absorption of the OPC (and frequently cost considerably more than plain OPC).
Some examples of available product are given below. My personal inclination would be to "keep it simple" and use a dose rate of approximately 1mg of OPC per 1kg (2.2lb) bodyweight and no more than 100mg in total daily.
Claims have been made that higher doses are necessary for optimum efficacy. This may be true for a healthy person but high doses may exacerbate neurodegenerative symptoms in some PALS. You must decide on a dose rate to suit you. This will depend on the extent of symptoms and form of your ALS/MND and the other medication you are taking. OPC does not appear to conflict with other medications if excessive doses are avoided.
There are various brands and combinations of antioxidants based primarily around OPC, proanthanols or proanthocynidins. I have been using Nature's Sunshine's Grapeseed Extract for many years and can recommend it and and the other supplements they make.
A random sample of just a few of the many compounds based primarily on OPC are listed below this, in alphabetical order. I would suggest doing a word search on the Internet in order to compare products and prices. Search Proanthocynidin, OPC, Pycnogenol, grape seed (or pine bark) extract and, for a general overview, antioxidants.
The cheapest, good quality source of OPC I have discovered to date is manufactured by MediHerb, Australia. Grape Complex (seed & skin) in liquid extract form is available through naturopaths and herbalists only in 500ml bottles. This liquid extract has a slightly astringent, wine-like taste but 2ml added to fruit juices or food is virtually tasteless.
As 4ml provides 100mg OPC, one bottle should last approximately four months. At a cost of around $40Australian per bottle, that's only $10 per month. [Even including post and packing this should be cheap for overseas buyers as the Australian dollar exchange rate is frequently 20-30% less than the US dollar]
Contact MediHerb Pty. Ltd. PO Box 713, Warwick, QLD 4370 Australia. Telephone 076 61 0700 Fax: 076 61 0788 (international Ph: +61 7661 0700 Fax: +61 7661 0788).
It makes sense to add dietary antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and beta carotene but the "blood-brain barrier" (bbb) tends to exclude these antioxidants from the central nervous system to some extent. The bbb is permeable only to a small number of molecules and chemicals allowing them passage to the brain and spinal cord.
Al Kok commented that: "If procyanidin compounds are oily, as suggested by one study, they may show an ability to penetrate the blood brain barrier, which would at least get the drug into the Central Nervous System where you want it to go... Blood levels and levels of brain penetration are unclear". Please see my own findings.
It has been widely claimed that Proanthocynidins/Pycnogenol/OPC is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and may be one of the most powerful naturally occurring antioxidant known. Pycnogenol/OPC is widely available in health food stores, from naturopaths/herbalists and by mail order. It does not require a doctor's prescription.
The "French Paradox" and beyond: neuroprotective effects of polyphenols
Understanding the "French Paradox" has stimulated research interest to investigate whether polyphenolic antioxidants may offer protective effects beyond the cardiovascular system, and whether polyphenols from other botanical sources may similarly offer beneficial effects to human health.
Studies with animal models have provided information clearly indicating the ability of grape polyphenols to ameliorate neuronal damages due to chronic ethanol consumption.
Studies with resveratrol, an important component of grape polyphenols, also show protective effects on neuron cell death induced by ethanol and other oxidative agents. These studies demonstrate an urgent need to extend research beyond the "French Paradox" towards better understanding molecular mechanisms of action of polyphenolic compounds and their application to human health.
SOME EXAMPLES OF OPC PREPARATIONS
CELL ESSENTIALS OPC FACTOR is an isotonic and effervescent OPC made by Aliven Labs. They believe their delivery system achieves a 97% absorption rate into the blood stream when taken on an empty stomach. There is a lot of information on their product and the effects of OPC's on their website.
ENZOGENOL This appears to be one of the better forms of OPC if only because it is extracted from pine bark (pinus radiata) using de-ionized water. No potentially harmful solvents are used to extract and isolate the OPC, flavonoids, etc. The combination of antioxidants and supplements in this product has been well researched.
Enzogenol is made by Enzo-Nutraceuticals in New Zealand and is marketed by Kaire International. Kaire head office in Australia at 6/7 Salisbury Rd, Castle Hill, NSW, Australia, 2154.
ISOTONIX OPC-3 is a combination of plant derived bioflavonoids. It is made from a combination of grape seed, pine bark and red wine extracts in addition to bilberry and citrus extracts. OPC-3 is a natural food supplement and can be taken on a long term basis. The company also makes isotonic CoQ10, vitamin C, multivitamins, B complex, a calcium/magnesium/vit D blend, and many others.
Studies have concluded that Maxogenol's exclusive Tocotrienol formula is 600 times more powerful than Vitamin E as an anti-oxidant. Included in the formula are carotinoids and co-enzymes (Q6 - Q9 and Q10 ) as additional free radical scavengers. Made by Nutraceutics Corp. USA. Contact Novus for more information.
MUSCADINE EXTRACT Muscadines have a unique characteristic- they are naturally resistant to plant diseases due to their extremely high antioxidant content. In 1996 the fruit was dried and put it into capsule form. For more information
PYCNOGENOL/OPC Grape seed/Pinebark extract provides a weapon against premature aging of living structures. Oxygen free radicals are believed to be responsible for the deterioration of these structures. The lengthening of life expectancy, observed for 50 years in the western world seems to have reached its limits: gradually we have found remedies for some causes of aging. What remains is oxygen, which we now know constitutes life's principal wear and tear factor.
The physiological mission of oxygen free radicals is to burn cellular refuse matter but we should prevent them destroying the sensitive structures of the living cell. OPC offers protection against oxygen free radicals, has been used in therapeutics for 40 years and has never provoked direct or secondary toxic effects. This is hardly surprising because we find it in the various foods consumed since the beginning of history.
There is extensive information about Pycnogenol and Professor Masqueler's antioxidant research online.
There is also comparative evidence in various publications that Pycnogenol is more effective than other brands of grape seed and pine bark derived OPC. Research in 1997 would tend to support that Pycnogenol was superior when compared to ten similar products.
REVENOL 60 + OPCs claimed to be up to 150 times more powerful than vitamin E and 60 times more powerful than vitamin C. OPCs from pycnogenols had been considered the most powerful antioxidant sold commercially before Revenol. It combines and uses both the water - soluble maritime pine bark and the oil-soluble grape seed OPC extracts - and results are better than if either were used separately.
Revenol is also supported with additional antioxidants to increase its broad spectrum potentialities and synergy. The makers claim that it is almost three times higher than pycnogenols from maritime bark or grape seed OPC extracts.
Up to 400% more Revenol is absorbed in the digestive system. It bonds to the intestinal wall potentially allowing greater absorption. Since OPCs and vitamin C have a synergistic effect, an increase in retention time is important. Esterified vitamin C configures vitamin C molecules to increase retention in the body.
Normally 80% of vitamin C is eliminated in 24 hours. Only about 5% of esterified vitamin C is eliminated and some is retained for three days. The vitamin E used is claimed to be more effective than vitamin E used in other products. Over 60 mg per tablet of pine bark (and) grape seed OPC increase bio availability and boost antioxidant content. Ingredients include esterified vitamin C, natural vitamin E, Ginkgo biloba, alpha and beta carotene and a phytosome digestive absorption system.
SOYGENOL 100 is the world's first Soy-Activated Premium Japanese Grape Seed Extract with Green Tea Extract. Soygenol 100 delivers 100% proanthocyanidins, the most beneficial part of the grape seed extract. The benefits of proanthocyanidins are well established in scientific and medical journals. Proanthocyanidins have been documented to enhance the activity of vitamins C and E .
Green tea has been used medicinally in China as far back as 2737 BC and is a rich source of bio-flavonoids and polyphenols, and is naturally decaffeinated. Each Soygenol 100 tablet contains tiny strands of unique fibre derived from the soybean called soy polysaccharides.
These mini-fibre strands act like a sponge, absorbing water into the tablet, speeding disintegration and helping to maximise nutrient availability. Soygenol 100 works synergistically with the Soy antioxidant to enhance the activity of vitamins C and E. Soy is rich in phosphatidylcholine, an important component of cell membranes and an efficient delivery system of nutrients.
The plant enzymes in Soygenol 100 along with the pH and temperatures encountered in the human digestive system are ideal for the mixing, activating and bonding of the grape seed extract and phosphatidylcholine. Research suggests that Soy-activation may increase the biological activity of the grape seed extract 3 fold and increase absorption and activity. By this estimate, the 33.3mg of 100% potency grape seed extract in each Soygenol 100 tablet would be bio-equivalent to 100mg of unbound grape seed extract.
Green tea extract has been shown to be 200 times stronger than vitamin E against free radicals. Each coated tablet contains Soygenol 100mg Soy-phosphatide-bonded Japanese Grape Seed Extract Green Tea Standardised Extract 100mg (30% polyphenols, decaffeinated) Ultra Soy Delivery System 5000 IU Item #105, each bottle contains 60 tablets.
Ultra Picno Grape ACE 15000+ made by Herbs of Gold contains a combination of antioxidants in one capsule.
Nature's Sunshine Grapeseed Extract was used throughout the clinical study on this website but they no longer make this product. Many other antioxidant and other supplements are available from them and they may be able to offer suggestions via their website at the Nature's Sunshine website. Their Australian address is P.O. Box 6884, Baulkham Hills Business Park, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Telephone +61(0)2 9894-0111 fax +61(0)2 9894-2422. Managing Director: Mr Stephen Webster.
Alphabetical Contents List