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Pycnogenol®: Multi-Modal Defense Against Aging

August 2012

By Janet Sarto

Pycnogenol® Boosts Brain and Memory Function

Pycnogenol® Boosts Brain and Memory Function

Our delicate brain tissue is especially vulnerable to the effects of aging. The brain receives 30% of overall blood flow, which is good, but which also exposes it to very high levels of oxidant stress. Over time, the other aging mechanisms also accumulate in the brain, eventually leading to loss of memory, slowed learning, and specific conditions like Alzheimer's disease.

Pycnogenol® is especially good at protecting brain cells from oxidant and inflammatory damage in Alzheimer's disease.19,44 It slows cell death following exposure to the dangerous "Alzheimer's protein" called Abeta (amyloid beta), and other oxidant stressors.44,45

Studies show that Pycnogenol® not only blocks oxidant damage, but also increases levels of natural antioxidants in brain cells, further increasing their resilience.44,46

These biochemical effects produce real results in older adults. Three months' supplementation with Pycnogenol® 150 mg/day in healthy older adults produced significant improvements in working memory.47 That's the kind of memory you use, for example, when you look up a phone number and remember it long enough to dial it, or to find your way back to your room in a new house or hotel.

Pycnogenol® also helps improve spatial memory in aged animals with low testosterone (a common finding in men after "male menopause").48 Spatial memory is what you use to remember where you put something, for example.

Menopause in women also causes loss of memory and some other brain functions. Pycnogenol® decreased overall menopausal symptoms in women by 46%, compared with no change in placebo patients, with specific improvement in memory function, concentration, mood, and sleeping patterns.49

Even people at the other end of the age spectrum can benefit from Pycnogenol® supplementation for memory. Healthy students supplemented with Pycnogenol® experienced improved attention, memory, and mood ratings.50 Not only that, but they performed better on real tests. Control students failed 10.7% of their tests, while supplemented students failed only 6.25%; average test scores were 7.6% better in those on supplements.

Pycnogenol® Enhances Performance of Metformin

The incidence of type II diabetes is skyrocketing in many countries worldwide.67 Chronically elevated blood sugar causes debilitating damage to just about every bodily system. Pycnogenol® has been shown in numerous scientific studies to significantly lower blood sugar levels and mitigate the effects of elevated blood sugar on the body.6,35,36,41,43,65,66 In a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled study of 77 individuals diagnosed with type II diabetes who were also using metformin, 100 mg per day of Pycnogenol® was shown to significantly lower fasting blood sugar by 16.2% in just 8 weeks.65

Figure 5: Pycnogenol® has been shown to enhance the blood sugar lowering effects of Metformin®. Type II diabetics taking Metformin® along with 100 mg per day of Pycnogenol® demonstrated a decrease in blood sugar of over 16%.65

Pycnogenol® Eases Arthritis

Stiff, aching joints are almost a stereotype of an aging person. Joints age for the same reason that other tissues do; they succumb to the 5 basic mechanisms of aging that we've been discussing.

The most common consequence of aging in joints is osteoarthritis, suffered by fully one-third of people over age 65.51

Pycnogenol® offers dramatic relief for osteoarthritis sufferers, as demonstrated by a 3-month study of 156 people.52 Just 100 mg/day produced a 56% reduction in the global WOMAC score, (a standard arthritis self-assessment test that evaluates pain, stiffness, and functional limitation of arthritic joints), while placebo recipients' scores dropped only 9%. Before supplementation, patients could walk only about 223 feet; that distance increased 66% to 650 feet after treatment. Placebo recipients saw little change.

In the same study, drug use dropped by 58% in supplemented patients, and just 1% in controls.52 Meanwhile, stomach complications (common in people taking high doses of arthritis drugs), dropped 63% (and only 3% in placebo patients).

Similar studies have shown identical results for osteoarthritis,53 and also improvement in arthritis caused by gout.54 The benefits of Pycnogenol® on arthritic joints are likely the result of sharp reductions in inflammatory markers in the blood, which signal diminished damage in joints.54,55


Aging is accelerated by multiple pathological events. It is most evident in the skin, our largest and most visible organ. But the same processes take place throughout the body. Pycnogenol®, a natural mixture of health-promoting phyto-molecules, dramatically improves skin aging, reducing the risk of wrinkles, abnormal pigmentation, and even the thinning and ulceration that accompanies vascular insufficiency. Studies show that Pycnogenol® synergistically attacks five of the most prominent causes of aging in skin and in many other organs and systems. The multiple anti-aging mechanisms of Pycnogenol® would be expected to substantively reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, and arthritis.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.