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A to Z Nutrients


PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid)
Panthothenic Acid See B-5
Pau d'Arco
Phosphatidyl Serine
Picrorhiza kurroa
Pleurisy Root
Poke Root
Pycnogenol Confusion:
pine bark or grape seeds?
Pyridoxine See B-6

PABA is a B-vitamin, and is part of the folic acid molecule. PABA can be made by our intestinal bacteria, and is found in liver, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, whole grains, eggs, and molasses. PABA is important to skin, hair pigment, and intestinal health. Used as a sunscreen, it also can protect against the development of sunburn and skin cancer from excess ultraviolet light exposure. It aids bacteria in producing folic acid, it assists in the breakdown and utilization of proteins, it aids in the formation of red blood cells, and it has been used as a sunscreen. Signs of deficiency include fatigue, irritability, depression, nervousness, constipation, headache, digestive disorders, and graying hair. There is no RDA. Some people report an allergic reaction, and continued high ingestion may be toxic for some people.

Passionflower (Passifora incarnata) Sedative, hypnotic, anti-spasmodic, anodyne. Relieves nerve pain, promotes restful sleep. Has been used for seizures and hysteria.

Pau d'Arco (Tabeluia impetiginosn) Blood cleanser; anti-fungal; used for candida, lymph congestion, tumors. Improves gastrointestinal utilization of nutrients. It is one of the major plants once used by the Incans. In Argentina it is used clinically for infection, pain, diabetes, malaria, cancers, inflammation, flu, colds, and in this country for mold and fungal allergies. The tea tastes good and helps with infections and high amounts of mucous. It is also available as an alcohol extract, water extract, tablets, capsules and ointments.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) For upset stomach, heartburn, nausea colds, flu, congestion, nervous headache and agitation, also diarrhea and flatulence. Adds flavor to other herbs.

L-phenylalanine and a related amino acid, L-tyrosine, are precursors on the dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine pathway. As such, they have been found to be helpful for depression and similar low-energy states. Although defining "depression" apart from "low-energy" can be useful for analytical purposes, it remains true that for all practical purposes depression and low-energy go together and are often affected by the same body-mind disciplines. For instance, Andrew Weil, M.D., says that the most consistently successful "natural" remedy for depression is taking a walk every single day! Many people have benefited their energy levels and mental clarity by supplementing with L-phenylalanine, L-tyrosine, or both. In addition, L-phenylalanine has been sometimes used successfully to help reduce appetite, as part of a weight-loss program.

Phosphatidyl Serine Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid, which is a molecule with an amino acid 'head' (serine for PS), and one or two fatty acid (lipid) 'tails'. PS is found in the double layer of phospholipids in the outer membrane of every cell in our bodies, including the brain. This double layer is responsible for bringing in nutrients, expelling waste, and enabling the cell to coordinate with the rest of the body. PS plays important roles in neurotransmitter systems, metabolism levels in the brain, maintaining nerve connections (synapses) in the brain, and various higher mental activities, as well as nerve cell differentiation, activation and renewal, neurotransmitter production and release, and maintaining electrical current flows in and between the cells. Depletion of PS with age appears to be correlated with the decline of these functions.
Many studies suggest that PS may help maintain or improve cognitive functions such as memory and learning in mature adults. The results include significant improvements in measures of brain function such as:

  • Learning and remembering names of persons after introduction
  • Recognizing people one has seen previously
  • Recall of location of frequently misplaced objects
  • Remembering numeric information such as telephone numbers
  • Ability to maintain concentration

Dietary supplements of PS are absorbed in the blood about 1/2 hour to one hour after ingestion, reaching the brain within minutes after that. Especially indicated for people over 50 years of age, and for people who may have prematurely damaged brain call membranes due to disease, alcohol, drug use, pollution, or other causes. Lifetime supplementation with PS may be strongly indicated for epilepsy, in support of conventional treatment. Also indicated for protection against stress hormone release, which is a negative adaptation to stress, in adults of any age.
Suggested use: One capsule (100mg PS), three times a day with meals, for at least 2 weeks. May then be reduced to one or two times a day, if desired. Taking too close to bedtime may delay falling asleep.
Safety & Toxicity: In 23 pear-reviewed human studies, PS has been shown to be safe and effective for human use. 200mg or more PS taken at once may (rarely) cause nausea, by stimulating an excessive release of dopamine. 300 mg per day is associated with lower uric acid and liver SGPT levels, without adverse clinical effect. Dogs survived 70 grams daily (233 times the normal human dose) for a year without apparent histological damage. Because no reproductive studies appear to be available, it is not recommended for use when pregnant or nursing without supervision by a knowledgeable health care practitioner.

Picrorhiza kurroa, like Milk Thistle, possesses extremely potent hepatoprotective properties. It also stimulates the immune system and is anti-inflammatory in nature.

Plantain (Plantago spp.) Expectorant; astringent; for coughs, bronchitis, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, bleeding cystitis, chronic catarrhal problems, external wounds and sores, insect bites, laryngitis, gastritis.

Pleurisy Root (Asclepias tuberosa) Respiratory infections, bronchitis, pleurisy, pneumonia, flu. Reduces inflammation and encourages expectoration.

Poke Root (Phytolaeca spp.) Emetic, purgative. Cleanses lymph, for tonsillitis, mumps, laryngitis, swollen glands, mastitis, rheumatism. Caution: Large doses can be toxic.

Potentilla (Potentilla spp.) Astringent mouthwash and gargle for sore throats or gum inflammation. Use for stomach ulcers, abrasions, sunburn, poison oak, fevers, diarrhea.

Pregnenolone is made in the body from cholesterol and is itself the precursor to DHEA, progesterone, and other steroid hormones. As with DHEA, levels of pregnenolone decline with age. Pregnenolone does not cause masculinizing effects in women, like high levels of DHEA can, because it is less likely to increase testosterone levels.
Pregnenolone has been found to play an important role in the acquisition of knowledge and the long term memory of learned behavior. Recent studies indicate that it may also be the most potent and quick-acting brain nutrient ever found, working in part through its impact on N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors in the brain. It blocks the inhibitory amino acids glycine and GABA, helping to balance excitation and inhibition in the central nervous system.
Before the promotion of other hormones and their analogs pushed it aside, studies in the 30's and 40's showed Pregnenolone to be a most promising supplement for preventing and curing stress-related maladies. This is especially important today, as some researchers propose that unrelieved stress is the major contributing factor to chronic illness. According to Ray Peat, Pregnenolone very quickly helps fatigued, stressed people regain their ability to handle stress, sometimes with a single dose. The conversion of cholesterol to Pregnenolone is aided by the presence of sufficient vitamin A, vitamin E, thyroid hormone, copper, and light, and can be blocked by too much estrogen, X-rays, ultraviolet light, unsaturated oils, and iron. Peat also indicates that Pregnenolone can be beneficial for certain arthritic conditions, for the bulging eyes of Graves disease, and possibly for easing oxygen depletion in emphysema. See also our pregnenolone Topic.

Propolis is a truly remarkable substance. It is the sticky substance that covers the young buds on trees, combined with bee secretions. It has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity, and even enhances the immune response. It has very powerful anesthetic properties which are superior to cocaine, without side effects. The human body does not develop tolerance to its effectiveness! Bees gather the substance and use it to maintain a sterile environment in the hive. Propolis is being used in scientific studies throughout the world with excellent results for tonsillitis, ulcers, acne, pain (especially dentistry), sore throats, dry coughs, bronchial asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, urinary system inflammations, warts, abscesses, eczema and even neuropsychiatric problems. We have an excellent book on PROPOLIS from Paris by Doctor Ives Donadieu. Propolis is available in tablets, capsules, extracts, creams, and raw - straight from the bee hive.

Pycnogenol is the trade name of a patented extract from pine bark. Pycnogenol is also commonly used to refer to an extract from grape seeds, which contain the same active ingredients, a type of bioflavonoid called proanthocyanidins. Proanthocyanidins, also called Oligo-Pro-Anthocyanidins (OPC's), are water-soluble, non-toxic, highly bioavailable, and highly-effective vitamin C potentiators. Pycnogenol is a powerful free radical scavenger, even more powerful than well-established antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Because proanthocyanidins reduce inflammation by inhibiting specific protein-destroying enzymes released during the inflammatory response, they could help relieve inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and sports-related injuries. Pycnogenol also repairs damaged collagen and protects it against further attack by free radicals and collagen-degrading enzymes, the elastases and collagenases, by binding to collagen fibers and realigning them in a less damaged form. This protective action helps to prevent the early facial wrinkles caused by skin inelasticity, keeping the skin smooth and elastic.
Pycnogenol improves peripheral circulation, strengthens weak blood vessels, and restores lost capillary activity. It improves peripheral circulation by reducing venous insufficiency and diminishing water retention in the lower leg. By strengthening weak blood vessels, including fragile capillaries, pycnogenol helps prevent bruising and lessens varicose veins. By increasing vitamin C activity in capillary walls and strengthening collagen (intracellular "cement"), pycnogenol restores lost capillary activity. It protects the collagen-rich, connective tissue in artery walls and joints, and stimulates repair. Pycnogenol may be also be shown to be protective against atherosclerosis.
Pycnogenol was licensed in France many years ago as a nutrient for treating diabetic retinopathy. It acts as an antioxidant in the retina by neutralizing free radicals capable of damaging cells in the retina and strengthens capillaries. Pycnogenol prevents excessive histamine release and has been shown to protect against ulcers in the stomach and intestine. Studies show pycnogenol to be non-toxic, non-teratogenic, non-mutagenic, non-carcinogenic and hypo-allergenic. Pycnogenol acts synergistically with other antioxidant nutrients, so it often gives better results when taken with such nutrients as vitamins A, C, E and the trace mineral selenium.

Pycnogenol: What is the difference between OPC's from pine bark and grape seeds?
(Interview from "The Latest Pycnogenol Research", Whole Foods Magazine, August 1997)
Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.: "I receive many questions that note that other foods, such as grape seed extract, or black tea, or whatever, contain procyanidins. Do they therefore produce the same results as Pycnogenol? The research efforts that you have just described have been done with [the trademarked] Pycnogenol [material]. Are these results specific to Pycnogenol?"
Peter Rohdewald, Ph.D.: "Of course, these results should not be transferred to any other food merely because that food also happens to contain procyanidins. As you know, Pycnogenol is produced from one very special type of Pine--the French maritime pine of the Gascogne. The water-soluble extract is taken from the bark of that tree via a standardized procedure, so that the composition of Pycnogenol, its content of procyanidins and phenolic acids, is remarkably constant."
"For comparison, black tea or grape seeds both are harvested from different and various species of tea or grapes. You know that different wines vary considerably in their taste; one may be very astringent and another very mild. The reason for these differences in taste is the difference in their procyanidin content and the different pattern of the various procyanidin oligomers. Each subspecies has its own fingerprint of procyanidin molecules. The quantities differ, and the compounds differ. Therefore, results obtained with Pycnogenol cannot be transferred to other extracts or foods consisting of other procyanidins."
Passwater: "Certainly. Let me try to make an analogy: carrots and tomatoes both are rich in carotenoids; however, carrot juice and tomato juice taste different and have different nutritional properties. Alpha carotene and beta carotene, which give carrots their orange color, are carotenoids that yield vitamin A. Lycopene, the carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color, does not produce vitamin A, but is a better singlet oxygen quencher than alpha or betacarotene. Each brings something valuable to the table; it is not a case of one being better than the other."
"Similarly, carrot juice and orange juice both are sources of compounds that we call vitamins. Orange juice is rich in vitamin C, and carrot juice is rich in carotenes that are converted into vitamin A. We don't consider them equivalent just because they are both sources of vitamins. Both are important."
"Orange juice is better at preventing scurvy, and carrot juice is better for vision. However, carrot juice, tomato juice and orange juice all taste different and contain vastly different vitamin and carotenoid profiles. Likewise, the types of procyanidins and array of organic acids are greatly different in pine, grape and tea." (top)