Aim: This 12-week, product-evaluation registry study aimed to compare the effects of supplementation with French Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®) on cognitive function, attention, and mental performance in healthy professionals with increased oxidative stress in a professional context.
Methods: Professionals were screened for increased oxidative stress: 60 subjects (range 35-55 years, no risk conditions, no addictions) voluntarily decided to be followed-up. Diet, alcohol and lifestyle patterns, including exercise, were controlled. Pycnogenol® (150 mg/day) was used in combination with a health plan to enhance mental performance and control oxidative stress.
Results: A group of 30 professionals used Pycnogenol®, and 29 acted as comparable controls for a period of 12 weeks. The two registry groups were comparable. Cognitive function, attention, mental performance, sustained attention, memory, executive functions, mood and oxidative stress values were comparable at inclusion. At 12 weeks the improvement in Pycnogenol® subjects was more significant than in controls. Plasma-free radicals (oxidative stress) were significantly decreased (median -30.4%) at 12 weeks in Pycnogenol® subjects in comparison with a non-significant variation observed in controls (+0.9%; difference between groups). Considering the cognitive test battery (PASAT, pattern recognition memory, spatial recognition memory, spatial working memory), Pycnogenol® subjects showed a small but significant improvement with spatial recognition memory unchanged. Mood parameters (alertness, anxiety, contentedness) also improved in professionals using the supplement. In the evaluation of 12 professional daily tasks all items were improved with Pycnogenol® supplementation. The score relative to semi-professional minitasks was improved more in Pycnogenol® subjects. Tolerability and compliance were optimal with >94% of the doses of supplement correctly used.
Conclusion: Pycnogenol® supplementation for 12 weeks appears to improve cognitive function and oxidative stress in healthy professionals.