White Pine Bark
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White Pine Bark PINE BARK  
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Botanical:  Pinus strobus
Family: Pinaceae (pine)
Other common names:   White Pine Bark, Eastern White Pine, Northern White Pine, Pumpkin Pine,

Soft Pine, Deal Pine, Weymouth Pine (in Britain)

Pine Bark is an old and trusted treatment for colds and flu.  It helps loosen and expel phlegm from the respiratory tract, easing bronchitis and lung congestion, and its warming qualities stimulate circulation, which may ward off colds and flu before they settle in.  The high content of nature's most powerful antioxidants (proanthocyanidins/PCSs/OPCs) in Pine Bark have made it the focus of much attention in the area of combating free radical damage, arteriosclerosis and strokes.  Let Pine Bark's potent antioxidants help you fight infection and strengthen the immune system.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

History:
The Eastern White Pine is the tallest evergreen tree that is native to eastern North America and one of many Pine varieties that have been used medicinally in various countries from the earliest times.  The Eastern White Pine is the official State Tree of both Maine and Michigan and is also the Provincial Tree of Ontario.  The species was imported into England by Captain George Weymouth in 1620, who planted it widely for a future timber crop, but it was not successful because of Blister Rust disease.  The Eastern White Pine is a hardy conifer that grows to a height of one hundred, fifty feet, or more, thriving in well-drained, neutral to acid soil in sun and a cool climate and covered with a deeply fissured, gray-brown bark.  In natural, pre-Colonial days, the White Pine is said to have grown to two hundred and thirty feet in height, and the tree still has the distinction of being the tallest tree in eastern North America.   Its branches grow in regular whorls and bear soft, bluish-green, needle-like linear leaf clusters (fascicles) of five.  Both male and female trees produce long, slender cones.  Mature trees can live to two hundred years old; some live as long as four hundred years!  Prior to the American Revolution and during the age of the great sailing ships, the high quality of Eastern White Pine was valued for its use in mast making by the British Royal Navy, and Pine is still widely grown in plantation forestry and valued in the commercial timber industry.  An oleoresin, known as turpentine, is tapped from various species of Pine and distilled to produce oil or spirits of turpentine, which is used commercially, but there is now a turpentine substitute that is based on petroleum.  Besides the important commercial uses for White Pine, it is invaluable in herbal medicines.  Fossilized Pine resin (amber) is obtained from buried trees and used to treat urinary tract infections, stones, convulsions and heart disease.  The Chinese used many species of the Pine and first mentioned it in their medical literature dating back to A.D. 500, recommending it for arthritis and as an analgesic for pain.  Native Americans, including the Iroquois and Micmacs, considered the Pine as a panacea and used it in virtually all their herbal, medicinal combinations.  Some tribes relied on Pine as an expectorant and used it as a cough medicine; other tribes used the resinous sap in poultices to cure wounds and sores.  The Eastern White Pine is rich in resins and camphoraceous volatile oils (including pinene), which are strongly antiseptic and stimulant.  Pine needles contain five times the amount of vitamin C (by weight) of lemons and make an excellent tea, and the inner bark is edible and is also a source of potent antioxidants and the all important resveratrol.

Beneficial Uses:
Pine Bark is an excellent expectorant and is used to loosen and expel phlegm and mucous excretions from the respiratory system.  The inner bark has been a longtime standard herbal remedy for coughs, whooping cough, croup, bronchitis, laryngitis and chest congestion due to colds.

As a treatment an aromatic stimulant, Pine Bark is said to increase circulation and further help to overcome or prevent the onset of colds and flu by raising circulatory action.

Pine Bark contains the second highest source (the first is Grapeseed) of nature's most potent antioxidants, tannin compounds, called proanthocyanidins (also called OPCs for oligomeric procyanidins or PCOs for procyanidolic oligomers) that provide a high degree of antioxidant capacity, which fight free radical damage in the body.  These compounds allow the body's cells to absorb vitamin C, which is helpful in protecting cells from the free radicals that can bind to and destroy cellular compounds.  These qualities may be helpful in building the immune system and fighting invasive material and other infections.  They are classified as flavonols, and the way in which these versatile healing compounds are distinct from flavonoids is their simple chemical structure, which allows them to be readily absorbed into the bloodstream.  They work actively against fat-soluble and water-soluble oxidants, thus protecting the cells from damage, and their antioxidant activity is thought to have great potential in combating cellular damage caused by foreign infectious attack.

Pine Bark's OPCs, which may also be derived from Grapeseed, Red Wine, Hops, Pomegranate and various other fruits, nuts and beans, are believed to contribute to a lowered incidence of arteriosclerosis and coronary heart problems.   Pine Bark is also a source of resveratrol, which is thought to increase the levels of high-density lipoproteins (raise HDLs or “good” cholesterol) in the blood, while decreasing the low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, or “bad” cholesterol) and thereby possibly helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes.  It is also said to prevent fat in the bloodstream from sticking together and clogging the arteries, which is thought to promote better circulation of blood throughout the body, especially to the heart.

The inner bark of Pine Bark (cambium) is the source of resveratrol, a polyphenolic phytoalexin, which is produced in plants that is reputed to have antifungal properties.

According to recent research (2008) from Peninsula Medical School, England, the resveratrol found in Pine Bark, Grape Skin and Red Wine can protect against cellular damage to blood vessels caused by high production of glucose in diabetes, claiming resveratrol's antioxidant effects are well documented.  But the new research establishes the link between high levels of glucose, its damaging effect on cell structure and the ability of resveratrol to protect against and mend such damage.  Moreover, resveratrol could be a factor in blocking the damaging effect of glucose, which, in turn, might fight the often life-threatening complications that accompany diabetes and could potentially be a basis of effective diet-based therapy for the prevention of vascular damage caused by hyperglycemia in the future.

In 2008, Italian researchers reported in Phytotherapy Research that supplements of Pine Bark Extract may reduce the pain associated with arthritis of the knee by about fifty-five percent. The study was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial and also indicated an improvement in all osteoarthritis symptoms by fifty-six percent.

Pine Bark is considered a diuretic, and as such, encourages the flow of urine, which is said to be very helpful in cases of urinary tract infections and kidney problems.

Contraindications:
Pregnant or nursing women should not use Pine Bark Herbal Supplement.

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