Pine bark increases memory and cognition, according to medical scientists. This is the conclusion after one clinical study on students and their test scores, and another clinical study on seniors.
Pine bark is an amazing supplement, hands down. There are a number of proven benefits of pine bark according to clinical research. For example, pine bark heals wounds, lungs and veins. It also reduces dust mite allergies. And pine bark also helps relieve tinnitus and vertigo according to still other research. Menopausal symptoms are also aided, and the extract also shortens the duration of the common cold.
Pine bark extract tested on memory
Biomedical researchers from Italy’s Chieti – Pescara University have found that pine bark extract in the form of a supplement called Pycnogenol® increases cognitive function, attention span and mental performance.
The research investigated 108 healthy university students between 18 and 27 years old. They were divided into two groups. One group took Pycnogenol® and the other group took a placebo.
The researchers tested the subjects attention span, memory, and executive brain functions over an eight week period. They also analyzed the students’ university testing scores.
The pine bark extract group scored significantly higher on all the tests and evaluations. Of the university tests, the pine bark group failed only 6% of the tests, while the control group failed almost 11% of the tests – about 75% more failures than the pine bark group. The Pycnogenol® group also had better test scores in general, averaging scores of 26 versus 23.8 for the control group.
The researchers concluded that eight weeks of Pycnogenol® supplementation “improved sustained attention, memory, executive functions and mood ratings in the students. The improvement was statistically significant.”
Seniors also benefit from pine bark
This conclusion is confirmed by another study on the pine bark extract, Pycnogenol®, done by Australian researchers in 2008. In this study, 101 elderly individuals took either 150 mg of Pycnogenol® for three months or a placebo. The researchers found that those who took the Pycnogenol® had significantly better working memory than the placebo group.
What is pine bark?
The pine bark used in the two above studies was Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol® is the extract of the French maritime pine tree. It has been shown in a number of studies to have significant antioxidant properties. Antioxidants prevent oxidative radicals that can damage brain cells, and help increase brain function – helping to delay or prevent the onset of cognitive impairment later in life.
Note that other varieties of pine can also have these benefits. For this reason, pine bark is used instead of Pycnogenol, which is a patented form of pine bark from the French maritime pine.
Luzzi R, Belcaro G, Zulli C, Cesarone MR, Cornelli U, Dugall M, Hosoi M, Feragalli B. Pycnogenol® supplementation improves cognitive function, attention and mental performance in students. Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep;53(3 Suppl 1):75-82.
Ryan J, Croft K, Mori T, Wesnes K, Spong J, Downey L, Kure C, Lloyd J, Stough C. An examination of the effects of the antioxidant Pycnogenol on cognitive performance, serum lipid profile, endocrinological and oxidative stress biomarkers in an elderly population. J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Jul;22(5):553-62.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.