Pycnogenol is a patented extract derived from the bark of the maritime pine tree. Its potent antioxidant effects makes it an interesting way to increase blood flow, boost glutathione levels and benefit the immune system. Pycnogenol has been used to improve various health conditions including ADHD, Autism and Aspergers in children.
Pycnogenol contains mainly two different active ingredients; proanthocyanidins and flavonols, two powerful antioxidant compounds. One of their specific benefits is to enhance vitamin C absorption in the brain. Vitamin C is necessary to the synthesis of the brain neurotransmitters involved in ASD. Both vitamin C and pycnogenol’s antioxidant compounds protects the brain against free-radical damage. Pycnogenol also shows anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine and immune system boosting effects.
A new German and Slovakian study indicates that pycnogenol efficiency lays in its ability to increase glutathione levels. This finding is highly relevant to autism as many researches suggests that low levels of glutathione could be directly linked to autism spectrum disorders.
The body normally produces enough glutathione to ensure proper detoxification. However, in individuals suffering with certain health conditions, the amount of glutathione produced can be severely compromised, as is often the case for Autism and Aspergers in children.
According to a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers reported that “Results show that one month [of] pycnogenol administration caused a significant reduction in hyperactivity, improved attention and visual-motoric coordination and concentration of children with ADHD”. In another study, researchers found that pycnogenol administration increased markedly the ratio of active to inactive glutathione levels.
Another benefit of pycnogenol is the power to neutralize nitric oxide, a substance that can be toxic to brain cells, especially for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Pycnogenol brain-protective powers can be an interesting addition to a biomedical autism treatment.