Keeping your brain in shape...no sweat. Health-conscious consumers may not realize that supplementing a healthy diet is just as important to maintaining mental performance as it is to maintaining six-pack abs. Natural supplements are an easy, effective way to manage mental focus, memory and overall mood. Natural supplement Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, was found to significantly enhance mental performance in healthy college students in a recent clinical trial published in Panminerva Medica.
The study was conducted at Pescara University and examined 53 Italian university students, aged 18-27. Students were assigned to a control or test group. The test group was given 100 mg of Pycnogenol® per day, over a period of eight weeks. Students' mental performance was evaluated using cognitive function tests that were carried out by computer-assisted methods. Students' final exam scores were also evaluated. Verbal IQ tests ensured that students recruited for the study demonstrated highly comparable intelligence.
The study found that:
- Pycnogenol® effectively enhanced mental performance, including improved sustained attention, memory and mood in students within an eight week period
- Students taking Pycnogenol® had higher test scores on university exams than the control group
- Alertness and contentedness improved significantly within the Pycnogenol® group and levels of anxiety decreased by 17 percent
Results showed that not only did Pycnogenol® decrease test anxiety, but also confirmed Pycnogenol®'s ability to improve mental performance by evaluating students' scores on exams. Researchers suggest that several physiologic contributions of Pycnogenol® may have contributed to the improved cognitive function of investigated students, namely antioxidant potency and blood circulation improvement. While the results are promising they need to be further investigated in a larger population group.
This study confirms previous findings that Pycnogenol® effectively improves cognitive function. Research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology demonstrated that Pycnogenol® supplementation improved both numerical working memory as well as spatial working memory in Australian senior citizens.