The pine bark secret to a sharper brain—and much, much more

Pycnogenol® is a firm fixture on my Desert Island Supplement list for a long list of reasons. Research shows it can boost heart health, manage blood sugar levels, help skin tone, ease menopause symptoms, support blood vessel health—even fight the common cold.

Now, a new study shows this already-impressive supplement, derived from French maritime pine bark extract, boasts yet another benefit:It can improve memory, focus, and decision-making ability.

Researchers in Italy looked at 59 men and women between the ages of 35 and 55. One group took 150 milligrams of Pycnogenol per day, the other didn’t.

All of the study subjects underwent tests to evaluate their attention, memory and executive function. Researchers also took blood samples from the subjects and measured them for free radicals.

Subjects taking Pycnogenol had greater increases in cognitive function than the non-Pycnogenol group. They also had significant improvements in mood, memory, attention span, decision-making, and dealing with other people. And last but not least, the Pycnogenol group also had lower levels of free radicals in their blood than the non-Pycnogenol group.

This particular study focused on business professionals and Pycnogenol’s ability to give you a competitive edge in the workplace. But Pycnogenol has brain boosting benefits no matter how old you are—or what your profession is.

The researchers acknowledged that other studies have shown Pycnogenol has positive effects in helping kids with ADHD improve their attention span and focus. And they also noted other research showing improvements in cognitive function in people over age 60.

Which really proves my long-held belief that there’s no one who CAN’T benefit from this amazing supplement.

How, exactly, does Pycnogenol work its magic? Well, it works in part by reducing oxidative stress. And research clearly links increased oxidative stress in the brain with cognitive impairment.

But perhaps even more importantly, Pycnogenol also helps keep your microcirculation in good working order. Your microcirculation consists of the tiny blood vessels and capillaries responsible for pump oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body. Including to your brain.

And optimal blood flow is the key to life, longevity, and feeling energized and vibrant. Not to mention the key to staying sharp enough to enjoy it.


“Pycnogenol improves cognitive function, attention, mental performance and specific professional skills in healthy professionals aged 35-55.” Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2014; 58(4): 239-248

“Consumption and Physician Visits: Appealing the Conventional Wisdom That an Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” JAMA Internal Medicine, epub ahead of print 3/30/15