Pine Bark Boosts Brain Power

By Michael A. Smith, MD

As people get older, they often start to notice that their cognitive abilities are not as sharp as they used to be.

It’s no longer as easy as it once was to recall names, places or even songs. And things like misplacing keys seems to become more commonplace.

Chronic stress also produces similar changes, making it more difficult to store and retrieve memories, regardless of age. These cognitive changes seem innocent enough, but they can impact your life.

But instead of letting nature take its course, there is something you can do about it. A study showed pine bark extract from the tree Pinus pinaster could enhance cognitive function.

Pine bark extract is now being recognized as an anti-aging supplement with notable positive effects on neurological and cognitive health. Let’s get into the details of the study, shall we?

Pine Bark Extract Study on Career-Minded Professionals

Are there better subjects for a study on cognition than stressed-out professionals? You know (you might be one of them), the go-go-go, career-minded, "informationholics" of our 24-hour digital culture — whose mental performance is directly tied to the stress they feel.

For many career-minded people, days of mental sharpness and low stress are often followed by days filled with mental fatigue and excessive stress. A 12-week study gauged the effects of pine bark extract on cognition, attention, and mental performance in motivated professionals. In total, 60 people were screened for increased oxidative stress, likely generated from work-related and lifestyle issues.1

But let’s be clear: The subjects were healthy, had no addictions, and were not at significant risk for disease. Half of the subjects took 150 mg of pine bark extract each day; the other half was the control group. Information on diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, and lifestyle patterns was collected throughout the study.

Pine Bark Extract Improved Cognition

Overall, improvement in all measurements was more significant in subjects taking pine bark extract than in controls.

Plasma-free radicals (a measure of oxidative stress) were significantly decreased, and cognitive tests showed a small but significant improvement with pine bark extract versus the control group.1

Mood parameters, like alertness and anxiety, also improved in professionals using the supplement. Interestingly, 12 professional daily tasks all improved as well.1


1. J Neurosurg Sci. 2014 Mar 28. [Epub ahead of print]


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