Narrator: This is Science Today. Pycnogenol is a potent antioxidant derived from a pine bark extract. It's used as a health food supplement to stave off various diseases from stroke to Alzheimer's. Dr. Lester Packer of the University of California, Berkeley says pycnogenol contains high doses of flavinoids, antioxidant compounds found in fruits and vegetables.
Packer: Pycnogenol seemed to have the greatest ability to control or destroy free radicals. And so, we studied the lifetime of the vitamin C radical and we found that pycnogenol could extend the lifetime remarkably.
Narrator: Pycnogenol also prevented the overproduction of nitric oxide in the immune system.
Packer: Nitric oxide is a gas and the immune system cells use it to target and kill invading micro-organisms preventing infection or parasites, so it's very important in that respect. But you must realize that if this kind of scenario exists, that nearby healthy cells will perhaps also be damaged.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.