December 7, 2011
HOBOKEN, NJHealthy university students taking French maritime pine bark (as Pycnogenol®, from Horphag Research) had improved mental performance in a recently published in Panminerva Medica (2011 September;53(3 Suppl 1):75-82).
In the eight-week study, 53 students (aged 18 to 27) from Pescara University were given 100 mg/d Pycnogenol and an equivalent number of students were given a control protocol. Students were recruited based on verbal IQ test results to ensure a highly comparable intelligence among subjects. Researchers measured attention, memory and executive functions via cognitive function tests using computer-assisted methods. They also evaluated students' final exam scores.
Pycnogenol significantly improved sustained attention, memory, executive functions and mood ratings. Students taking Pycnogenol had higher test scores on university exams than the control group. The specific results showed control group students failed nine tests out a total of 84 (10.71 percent), while the students in the Pycnogenol group failed seven tests out of 112 (6.25 percent) a difference of 4.46 percent of failures in the Pycnogenol group that performed, statistically, generally better. The average test score was 23.81 in controls vs. 26.1 in the Pycnogenol group.
In addition to the performance results, researchers noted alertness and contentedness improved significantly within the Pycnogenol group, which also saw levels of anxiety decrease by 17 percent. Several mechanisms may have contributed to the improved cognitive results, according to researchers, including antioxidant activities and blood circulation improvement. Oxygen-rich blood supply to the brain plays an important role for cognitive function and the improvement of vascular function with Pycnogenol® may be responsible for the beneficial effects found in this study, says Dr. Gianni Belcaro, Pescara University, lead researcher. He and his team advised these results need to be further investigated in a larger population group.
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