Pycnogenol Improves Memory In Elderly

Armen Hareyan's picture

New research accepted for publication in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, demonstrates Pycnogenol, (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, improves the memory of senior citizens. The study results revealed Pycnogenol improved both numerical working memory as well as spatial working memory using a computerized testing system. The research was presented last week at the Oxygen Club of California 2008 World Congress on Oxidants and Antioxidants in Biology in Santa Barbara, CA.

"These results support research from a range of disciplines that suggest that antioxidants may have an effect in preserving or enhancing specific mental functions," said Dr. Con Stough, lead researcher of the study. "Cognitive research in this area specifically indicates that the putative benefits associated with antioxidant supplementation are associated with memory."


The double-blind, placebo controlled, matched pairs study, which was held at the Centre for Neuropsychology at Swinburne University, Melbourne Australia, examined the effects of Pycnogenol on a range of cognitive and biochemical measures in 101 senior individuals aged 60-85 years old. The study also examined the 'oxidative stress' hypothesis of ageing and neurological degeneration as it relates to normal changes in cognition in elderly individuals. Participant screening for the study included medical history and cognitive assessment. Participants consumed a daily dose of 150mg of Pycnogenol for a three-month treatment period and were assessed at baseline then at one, two and three months of the treatment. The control and Pycnogenol groups were matched by age, sex, BMI, micronutrient intake and intelligence. The cognitive tasks comprised measures of attention, working memory, episodic memory and psycho-motor performance.

Blood samples were taken from subjects and after 3 months treatment a marker known as F2-isoprostanes significantly decreased with Pycnogenol, but not in the placebo group. F2-isoprostanes develop by oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids, which are present in particularly high quantities in nerve cell membranes. The coincidence of Pycnogenol significantly improving memory after three months and the oxidation of nerve membranes being significantly inhibited suggests that the antioxidant activity of Pycnogenol plays a major role for the clinical effects.

According to Dr. Stough, "The antioxidant Pycnogenol had beneficial cognitive and biochemical effects for elderly individuals. Participants in the Pycnogenol groups showed improvement relative to the controls with the effects becoming evident from the second to third months of the Pycnogenol treatment."