For more than sixty years bioflavonoids have been known for their ability to support venous health. OPCs have been studied and shown to improve venous health, help repair varicose veins and reduce the occurrence of new varicose veins.
Here are three ways that OPCs have been shown to support venous health:
1. OPCs Help to Maintain the Health of Capillaries
Capillaries are your body's tiniest blood vessels and their primary function is the exchange of materials between the blood and tissue cells.
One of the earliest discoveries about OPCs was their ability to strengthen capillaries. Pine bark extract was used in these early studies to evaluate the maintenance of capillary health. One of the main conclusions of these studies was that Pine bark extract improved capillary permeability and decreased capillary leakage and micro bleeding.
It's important that capillaries are permeable because these blood vessels are the interface between the bloodstream and oxygen, nutrients and waste products. On the flip side if the capillaries are too permeable (they leak) and too much fluid and protein can seep out which results in swelling. Sometimes even red blood cells can leak out which is what causes bruising and red spots on your skin.
2. OPCs Improve Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Dr. F. Feine-Haake studied the benefit of Pine Bark in people with varicose veins and other symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. His study found that 80% showed a clear improvement and 90% of people found that their nocturnal leg cramps disappeared.
As we discussed in the previous section, pine bark extract was shown to strengthen the capillaries, which in turn can reduce swelling in the legs. It is swelling in the legs that can contribute to the development of varicose veins, so by reducing that swelling, you are reducing the development of varicose veins.
Chronic venous insufficiency is caused when your leg veins cannot pump enough blood back to your heart. This causes blood to pool in your leg veins and as a result, your legs and ankles can swell.
Studies have shown that supplementing with pine bark extract resulted in decreased ankle swelling. It was also found to significantly increase tissue oxygen and lower CO2, which suggested a considerable improvement of blood circulation to the legs.
Lastly, the continuous stretching of the veins due to chronic venous insufficiency leaves your veins enlarged. Studies also showed that pine bark prevented the development of spider veins and helped prevent existing spider veins from getting larger. When you treat the swelling, the increased pressure on the veins gets normalized, which prevents them from getting larger.
3. OPCs Protect Against Venous Clots
Since OPCs have been shown to improve blood circulation and keep blood flowing, it's especially helpful for protection against swollen ankles and venous clots (like the ones you get from long-distance air flights).
You might want to consider taking OPCs prior to your flight and again during the flight if it's longer than 4 hours. Dehydration and cramped conditions can lead to poor blood circulation, which in turn can cause swelling. In a worst-case scenario, a blood clot can form in the deep veins of the legs (known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT) which can travel as an embolism to the lugs and cause a potentially deadly pulmonary embolism.
Next time you are headed out for a flight. Don't forget your OPCs and make sure to stay hydrated!
In summary OPCs, especially pine bark extract have been well-researched for their help with venous health, which includes chronic venous insufficiency as well as varicose (spider) veins.
That's one of MANY reasons we packed our OPCXtra with 6 powerful plant-based sources of OPCs: pine bark extract, red wine extract, grape seed extract, bilberry extract, green tea extract, and citrus bioflavonoids.