The French maritime pine bark extract known as Pycnogenol improves cognitive function in individuals who have high levels of oxidative stress but are otherwise in good health, a group from Pescara, Italy, reported in the December issue of the Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences.

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Pycnogenol has been shown to improve cognitive function in individuals with high levels of oxidative stress.

The 12-month study focused on the so-called baby boomer population of individuals who currently range from 55-70 years of age.

Researchers at Chieti-Pescara University compared cognitive parameters in subjects who used 100 mg of Pycnogenol per day and also implemented a series of lifestyle measures versus subjects who implemented lifestyle measures alone.

The team also compared oxidative stress in the experimental and control groups.

Results in the 77 study participants showed that Pycnogenol supplementation improved a range of cognitive measures and also decreased oxidative stress, said Dr. Gianni Belcaro, principal investigator of the Cognitive Function (COFU) 3 Study.

The findings parallel results reported last year in a study that tested Pycnogenol in healthy professionals 35-55 years of age with increased oxidative stress.

In the present study, the ability to make a decision was significantly improved by 71% in the Pycnogenol group but declined by 5% in the control group.

Memory significantly improved by 37.3% in the supplement group but decreased by 9.8% in the control group.

Individuals who supplemented with Pycnogenol had a 41.2% improvement in their attention span versus a 1.9% improvement in controls.

The researchers also documented a significant 28% decrease in oxidative stress in the Pycnogenol cohort but no change in the control cohort.

The lifestyle measures that participants were asked to implement included the following: sleeping at least 8 hours per night with bedtime no later than 10:30 pm, eating regular meals at defined hours with reduced caffeine, salt, sugar and alcohol intake, and exercising for at least 20 minutes per day.

Finally, Dr. Belcaro said that Pycnogenol possibly acts on cognitive function and attention through a combined anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-edema activity.