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Grape Seed vs. Pycnogenol (Pine Bark) as a superiour source of Proanthocyanadins

Recently we introduced our standardized Grape Seed Extract which we believe to be the superior source of Proanthocyanidins (PACs), a unique class of bioflavonoids possessing potent antioxidant properties. While we have been pleasantly surprised with the positive response and high demand for this unique nutrient, we've also noticed that a number of people are confused by the differences between Grape Seed (or Grape Pips) and Pycnogenol. Unfortunately, much of the confusion regarding PACs is due to a marketing war that has been waged by advocates of the pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). As with many modern conflicts, circulation of rumors and other disinformation is a powerful tool that can mask the truth. Without further comment, here are the facts.

For years, those who could afford the high price of pycnogenol supplements have derived significant antioxidant protection against free radical damage. Pycnogenol, a freeze-dried extract prepared from pine bark, contains 85% proanthocyanidins. On the other hand, grapeseed extract contains 95% proanthocyanidins and is far more affordable than pycnogenol.

Both Pycnogenol and grape seed (pips) extract were developed by the same researcher, Prof. J. Masquelier of Bordeaux, France. He first patented the grape pips extract in 1986, as an extension of his pine bark patent of 1951. It was Prof. Masquelier who gave the name `pycnogenol' to this chemical class, the flavan-3-ols, but his first source of PACs was actually peanuts, way back in 1948.

Prof. Masquelier did extensive analytical, bioavailability, toxicological, pharmacological and clinical studies first with the grape pips, then extrapolated his results to the pine bark extract. He has stated in print that "for practical reasons" he used the grape pips extract for these studies. Gram for gram, the grape pips extract has more proanthocyanidins.

High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) analysis of both standardized extracts reveals that the grape seed extract has a higher content of PAC (minimum 92%) than the pine bark does (minimum 85%). The grape pips extract also has a higher content of gallic PAC esters, which (according to Dr. Masquelier) render it superior to the pine bark extract in antioxidant potency.

Gram for Gram Grape Pips contain more Proanthocyanadins

The grape pips PAC's have been researched clinically in several countries of Western Europe. Bombardelli and Morazzoni (1993) summarized six clinical trials done with grape pips PAC, all of them double-blinded, and Lagrue et al (1981) reported on one open and one double-blinded study.

Rumors that the pine bark extracts have additional chemical constituents that give them some superior, "magical" potency over the grape pips extracts are simply unfounded. By definition, the active principles of these PAC extracts are the proanthocyanidins. With respect to antioxidant potency against superoxide radical and against lipid peroxidation, the grape pips extract was found superior to the pine bark extract (MT Meunier et al, 1989. Plantes Medicinales et Phytotherapie 23,267).

Since the grape seed extracts are more potent, are better documented for bio-availability and safety, and have been adequately studied clinically, Smart Basics is confident that Grape Seed Extract is the superior product, and a quick price comparison shows that one would pay almost 400% more to derive a similar benefit from the pine bark extract.


  1. Powerful, natural and hypoallergenic free radical scavenger and antioxidant.
  2. Highly bioavailable bioflavonoid complex which is rapidly absorbed and distributed throughout the body within minutes.
  3. Has 50 times greater antioxidant capability than vitamin E and 20 times greater activity than vitamin C.
  4. Helps increase the effectiveness of vitamin C by acting as a carrier and as a restorer of oxidized vitamin C by working with glutathione.
  5. Provides potent free radical damage protection to brain and spinal nerves.
  6. Removes and prevents lipofuscin formation in the brain and heart, conferring antiaging benefits.
  7. Binds to collagen fibers, increasing elasticity and flexibility in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
  8. Acts as smooth muscle relaxants in blood vessels.

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