Supplement Forms/Alternate Names
- Grape Seed Extract
- Pine Bark Extract
- Procyanidolic Oligomers (PCOs)
Principal Proposed Uses
Other Proposed Uses
- Aging Skin
- Atherosclerosis Prevention
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Cancer Prevention
- Diabetes (Blood Sugar Control) and Complications of Diabetes (Foot Ulcers)
- Diabetic Neuropathy and Retinopathy
- Impaired Night Vision
- Liver Cirrhosis
- Periodontal Disease
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
One of the bestselling herbal products of the early 1990s was an extract of the bark of French maritime pine. This substance consists of a family of chemicals known scientifically as oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs) or procyanidolic oligomers (PCOs). Similar (but not identical) substances are also found in grape seed. The research record is complicated by the fact that certain identically named proprietary products have consisted at different times of various proportions of these related substances.
OPCs are marketed for a wide variety of uses. As yet, however, there is no solid evidence that they are effective for any medical condition.
OPCs aren't a single chemical, but a group of closely related compounds. Several food sources contain similar chemicals: red wine, cranberries, blueberries, bilberries, tea (green and black), black currant, onions, legumes, parsley, and the herb hawthorn . However, most OPC supplements are made from either grape seed or the bark of the maritime pine. These two OPC sources lead to products that are not necessarily identical in function, although there do seem to be many similarities. In the discussion of scientific studies below, we indicate the source of the OPCs used when it is possible to do so. In some cases, however, identifying the exact product is difficult, as both grape seed and pine bark OPCs, or their combination, have at various times been sold under the same name.
For the treatment of specific medical conditions, studies have used doses of 150 to 300 mg daily. For use as a general antioxidant, 50 mg of OPCs daily are often recommended; however, there is no evidence that this dose provides any health benefits.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins?
Venous Insufficiency (Varicose Veins)
There is fairly good preliminary evidence for the use of OPCs to treat people with symptoms of venous insufficiency .
Blood Clots After Plane Flights
Maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.
OPCs may have some anticoagulant properties when taken in high doses, and therefore should be used only under medical supervision by individuals on blood-thinner drugs, such as warfarin (Coumadin), heparin, clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), pentoxifylline (Trental), or aspirin.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/18/2014 -