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Pine bark extract shows cognition for Boomers: Study

By Stephen Daniells+

17-Dec-2015
Last updated on 17-Dec-2015 at 15:31 GMT2015-12-17T15:31:39Z

Image: iStockPhoto
Image: iStockPhoto

Daily supplements of an extract from French Maritime Pine bark may improve decision making and attention span in people over 55, says a new study from Italy.

Data from 77 people over 55 indicated that 12 months of supplementation with the Pycnogenol-branded pine bark extract may improve attention span by 41%. decision making by 72%, and memory by about 37%.

“As we found with previous research indicating the effectiveness of Pycnogenol on improving some cognitive function aspects, this standardized antioxidant showed measurable positive effects on memory, attention and daily tasks-related decision-making,” said Dr. Gianni Belcaro, lead researcher of the study. 

“We continue to see a significant performance with Pycnogenol in reducing oxidative stress and how that factors into improving overall cognitive function.”

The study is published in the Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences .

Extending previous findings

The study’s findings were welcomed by Sébastien Bornet, VP of global sales and marketing at Horphag Research (exclusive worldwide supplier of Pycnogenol).

“This study extends previous findings on the benefits of Pycnogenol on cognitive health by providing evidence on an older age group (55-70) over a period of 12 months based on a number of different parameters,” said Bornet. “This study has indeed shown improvements in areas such as sleep quality, decision-making, mood, and the ability to cope with daily activities. In addition, the study has managed to confirm previous positive results related to attention, memory and mental performances on this particular age group (55-70).”

Study details

Pycnogenol is obtained from the bark of the French Maritime Pine. Image: Horphag Research

Scientists from Chieti-Pescara University in Italy recruited 77 participants aged between 55-70, all of whom were generally fit and followed a healthy lifestyle but, had high levels of oxidative stress. All of the participants were enrolled in a health plan involving regular sleep of at least eight hours per night, balanced meals with reduced caffeine, salt and sugar intake, and regular exercise. Half of the participants were assigned to receive 100 mg per day of Pycnogenol or no supplement for 12 months.

Results showed that daily decision making improved by 72% in the Pycnogenol group, compared to a 5% decline in the control group. Attention span improved by 41% in the participants taking the pine bark extract, compared to a 2% increase in the control group.

The pine bark extract was also associated with a 37% improvement in memory, compared with a 10% decrease in the control group.

While there were no significant changes in measures of oxidative stress in the control group, a 28% reduction was recorded in the pine bark extract group, added the researchers.

“This preliminary registry study – in a completely non-clinical situation – indicates that Pycnogenol  supplementation improves cognitive function, attention and performance in daily activities without any problems of compliance or tolerability,” concluded Dr Belcaro and his co-workers.

Source: Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences
Volume 59, Number 4, Pages 437-46, doi:
“The COFU3 Study. Improvement in cognitive function, attention, mental performance with Pycnogenol in healthy subjects (55-70) with high oxidative stress”
Authors: G. Belcaro, M. Dugall, E. Ippolito, S. Hu, A. Saggino, B. Feragalli

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