Pycnogenol Improves Mental Performance in Older Adults?


A new study suggests the patented French pine bark extract may improve cognitive function, attention, and mental performance in healthy adults aged 55-70.

Photo © Mnich

Photo © Mnich

French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol may be able to boost daily mental performance in adults aged 55-70, according to a new study.

Researchers at Chieti-Pescara University in Italy found that subjects who consumed Pycnogenol supplements daily for 12 months showed significant improvements in daily decision-making and memory when compared to a control group, as well as measurable improvements in attention span, ability to deal with people, and ability to manage finances.

Study participants were “generally fit and followed a healthy lifestyle, but had high levels of oxidative stress,” according to Pycnogenol distributor Horphag Research (Hoboken, New Jersey). In addition to its effects on cognitive function, Pycnogenol also was found to significantly decrease levels of oxidative stress, reported researchers.

The study, published in the Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences, builds on previous research indicating Pycnogenol may be effective at improving certain aspects of cognitive function, according to Gianni Belcaro, PhD, 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,” says Belcaro. “This research adds to a body of science for Pycnogenol, demonstrating its benefits for adults, ages 55 and older.”


Study Details

Of the 77 participants included in the study, 38 consumed 50 mg of Pycnogenol twice daily in combination with a controlled health plan, while the remaining 39 participants followed the controlled health plan alone. The health plan included balanced meals with reduce caffeine, salt, and sugar intake, as well as regular exercise and a sleep regimen of at least eight hours per night.

The study lasted 12 months, with researchers comparing results of questionnaires and tests conducted at the study’s outset and conclusion. Researchers evaluated participant cognitive function with an Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the elderly (IQ Code), cognitive function, daily tasks, oxidative stress and the short Blessed tests.  

After 12 months of daily supplementation with Pycnogenol, participants in the experimental group experienced:

·      A significant 72% improvement in daily decision-making, compared to a 5% decrease in the control group

·      A measurable 41.2% improvement in attention span, compared to a 1.9% improvement in the control group

·      A significant 37.3% improvement in memory, compared to a 9.8% decrease in the control group

·      A 57% increase in “ability to deal with people,” compared to a 5% decrease in the control group

·      A 32% increase in “ability to manage finances,” compared to a 12% decrease in the control group

·      A significant 28% decrease in oxidative stress, compared to no significant variation in the control group

Researchers concluded, “Pycnogenol supplementation for 12 months appears to improve cognitive function and oxidative stress in normal subjects between 55 and 70 years of age.”


Read more:

Pycnogenol Shortens Cold Symptoms In Study

Welch’s Concord Grape Juice May Improve Cognitive Performance


Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine


Belcaro G et al., “The COFU3 study. Improvement in cognitive function, attention, mental performance with Pycnogenol® in healthy subjects (55-70) with high oxidative stress.” Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences, vol. 59, no. 4 (December 2015): 437-446

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