Vascular protection

  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Excerpt

When your gums bleed as you brush your teeth, when brief exposure to a cold draft causes the tiny veinlets in the whites of your eyes to burst and your eyes to redden, when your legs hurt because of varicose veins, when hardly noticeable pressure such as pinching or nipping results in a hematoma (blue spot), when at the end of a long flight your shoes are too tight, when you’ve been standing all day and your ankles are swollen … you are facing a vascular problem. You could also have a vascular problem if a weakened blood vessel that is only slightly strained “bursts” and blood plasma (fluid) containing larger solid particles extravasates into the surrounding tissue. In people with weakened vessels, there is a continuous impaired permeability. Uncontrollably, the blood leaks from the vascular system and accumulates in the tissues, resulting in swellings, or edema. Such impaired permeability occurs only in the tiny and very delicate capillaries, where the arterial system containing oxygen-rich blood coming from the lungs and heart turns into the venal system, in which the carbon-dioxide-rich blood flows back to the lungs and heart. At the point of the capillaries, the blood releases oxygen into and picks up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the tissues. A well functioning vascular system is of ultimate importance to your health.

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This circulatory system has the task of channeling blood and lymph through the entire organism, allowing the transportation, delivery, and pick-up of their particles. It is a matter of pumping and keeping everything flowing while controlling volume and allowing particles to leave and enter the system. The arteries and veins, the capillaries and the lymphatic system — the whole circulatory system pervading the tissues at cell level is embedded in the connective tissue, which provides structure, strength, and resilience. The circulatory system does not have disparate or diverging features. The entire structure and all the functions of this system are aligned and completely focused on one goal: transportation.

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The importance of the endothelium goes way beyond controlling the exchange of substances between the blood and the tissues at the point of the capillaries. It plays a key role in numerous seemingly unrelated aspects of vascular biology. In the kidneys, for instance, specialized endothelial cells filter the blood. In the brain and spine, endothelial cells form the highly selective barrier between the blood and the fluid that is present in the nervous tissue. The endothelium also controls vessel tone, it plays a role in the stopping of bleeding and in the healing of injuries. It recruits white blood cells to counter inflammations. It is active in the formation of new blood vessels. And by telling the vascular wall to constrict or to relax, the endothelium also plays an important role in controlling blood pressure. So, keeping the endothelium out of harm’s way and in excellent condition forms an integral part of maintaing health.

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The healthy interplay among all parts of the vascular system is compromised by stress of a nutritional nature, by stress of a physical nature, and of course by a combination of both. Nutritional stress consists of more than overloading the vascular system in a way that obstructs and immobilizes it; deficiencies in essential nutrients are just as much part of nutritional stress because they can lead to malfunction, decay, and degeneration. A lack of vitamin C and OPCs combined with a lack of antioxidants puts great stress on the cardiovascular system. Stress can be caused by the overwhelming presence of something as well as by the overwhelming absence of something. The reason many people fall ill at the beginning of their retirement is simply that they have an absence of meaningful work.

The physical stress that burdens your vascular system may also not be what you think. Physical simply means things like pressure, mobility, speed, volume, and gravity — the push and pull in the circulatory system. Because most of the blood is situated beneath the level of the heart and lungs, the major physical problem encountered by the cardiovascular system is gravity. Gravity is overcome by the heart’s power, the resilience of the vascular wall, the tone of the veins, the condition of the veins’ valves, and the level of activity of the veins’ surrounding muscles, which help to “squeeze” the blood through the valves in an upward movement. Therefore, a lack or an absence of movement creates much more physical stress on the circulatory system than does physical activity. Cycling, walking, jogging, stretching, or any other form of sports or activity greatly assists the vascular system in its task to bring the blood back to the heart and lungs.

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Varicose veins are seriously swollen, distended, and knotted veins, visible especially in the legs. People develop varicose veins when the valves and walls of the vascular veins are weakened. In situations of prolonged immobility, the sheer weight of the blood puts a strain on the valves and vascular wall, causing the veins to widen and lose their elasticity. At the place of widening, the valves no longer function efficiently and the problem spreads. Apart from the fact that varicose veins are unattractive, the so-called functional symptoms of varicose veins can be unpleasant and very painful. Varicose veins cause heavy legs, redness, and painful swellings and stings. At night, such stings are the cause for frequent awakenings, leading to sleepless nights and fatigue. People suffering from these symptoms cannot stand still for more than a few minutes without feeling discomfort. Neither can they walk long distances. OPCs can be of tremendous help because they strengthen the vascular wall and improve the flow of blood. In France, the oldest and most used application of OPCs is for the functional symptoms of varicose veins.

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The increased permeability of the hair vessels and the impairment of the veins may also result in the development of a particularly unpleasant type of varicose veins: hemorrhoids. While women suffer from edema and varicose veins more frequently, a relatively larger number of men are bothered by hemorrhoids. One origin of hemorrhoids, which are varicose veins at the anus, is long periods spent in a sitting position and living a sedentary life. People who spend long days sitting in their office chair, take frequent flights, or travel long distances by car are often affected. The problem is aggravated by a diet low in roughage. The veins in the lower intestinal area expand, itching occurs, and in the worst case, the veins even burst. Bowel movement is painful, and blood is excreted. Because of the risk of infection, this condition is harmful and may require medical treatment, possibly even surgical intervention.

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For all these vascular ailments, OPCs turn out to be a potent remedy as both prevention and cure. In addition to the previously mentioned clinical tests performed during the 1960s with Flavan, numerous systematic clinical trials followed during the 1970s. They were performed with the OPCs that were the result of the newer production patent filed by Masquelier in 1970, allowing the production of OPCs from plant materials other than pine bark.

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By the end of the 1980s, the result of what Masquelier had begun in an ill-equipped laboratory during the years after World War II formed the basis for three reputable vasoprotectors frequently and broadly prescribed by French physicians until today. Unintendedly, the intense use of OPCs as a vasoprotector by the French pharmaceutical industry and medical profession confirmed the fact that OPCs are the vitamin with the “P” effect. But the vitamin side of this scientific progress went unnoticed, mostly because all these scientific developments took place in France and not in the Anglo-Saxon world, but surely also because they took place in the field of medicine and not in the field of nutrition. Yet, Masquelier, his colleagues, and his students were convinced that they had unraveled the secrets of vitamin P. Unfortunately, vitamin P had become so bashed and trodden on that it was impossible to resurrect.