Diagnosed with Cancer? Your two greatest challenges are understanding cancer and understanding possible side effects from chemo and radiation.  Knowledge is Power!

Learn about conventional, complementary, and integrative therapies.

Dealing with treatment side effects? Learn about evidence-based therapies to alleviate your symptoms.

Click the orange button to the right to learn more.

Pycnogenol and Cognitive Dysfunction

Share Button

Pycnogenol and cognitive dysfunction. Does it help?  I am a long-term cancer survivor. One of my many long-term side effects is called chemo brain (chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction). Basically chemotherapy screws up basic brain functiosn such as:

  • multi-tasking,
  • memory,
  • word search, 
  • facial recognition, etc.

In an effort to support my brain health now and in the future (think old age),  I look for any evidence-based non-conventional theories that may support my cognitive dysfunction.

How does pycnogenol affect cognitive dysfunction?

Pycnogenol is a branded extract derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree (Pinus pinaster). It contains a combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and organic acids.

Here are some ways in which pycnogenol might impact cognitive function:

  1. Antioxidant Properties: Pycnogenol is known for its antioxidant activity. Oxidative stress, which occurs when there is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body, has been implicated in cognitive decline. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, potentially protecting brain cells from damage.
  2. Improved Blood Flow: Pycnogenol has been suggested to improve blood flow, including to the brain. Adequate blood flow is crucial for delivering oxygen and nutrients to brain cells. By enhancing circulation, pycnogenol might support overall brain function.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to cognitive dysfunction and neurodegenerative diseases. Pycnogenol has anti-inflammatory properties, and reducing inflammation could potentially have a positive impact on cognitive health.
  4. Neuroprotective Effects: Some studies suggest that pycnogenol may have neuroprotective effects, helping to preserve the structure and function of neurons.

After researching and writing about evidence-based non-conventional therapies that have been shown to improve cognitive dysfunction for more than 10 years now, I feel as though my chemo brain is doing pretty well.

man hand holding his nutritional supplemets, healthy lifestyle background.

The longer term issue will be to find out if these therapies prevent dementia and/or Alzheimer’s Disease. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Do you have cancer? Or chemobrain? To learn more about evidence-based non-conventional brain health therapies send me an email at David.PeopleBeatingCancer@gmail.com.


David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

The COFU3 Study. Improvement in cognitive function, attention, mental performance with Pycnogenol® in healthy subjects (55-70) with high oxidative stress.

Aim: This 12-month product registry study evaluated the effects of supplementation with French pine bark extract (Pycnogenol(®)) on

  • cognitive function,
  • attention, and
  • mental performance

in healthy subjects with high oxidative stress.

Methods: Healthy subjects (age range 55-70) were screened – within a cardiovascular screening program – for oxidative stress. Out of 150 subjects, high oxidative stress was present in 44; the use of the supplement Pycnogenol(®) was suggested (100 mg/day)…

Results: As for the IQ Code, at 12 months there was a significantlty total lower score in Pycnogenol(®) patients and also a lower value (P<0.05) for 14 out of 16 items in the questionnaire.

Daily tasks: all items were improved with supplementation in comparison with controls. The improvement was seen for all 12 items  with the supplement. Cognitive function values (visual scale line) indicated a significant improvement  in all elements present in the questionnaire with the 12-month supplementation (no significant variations in controls).

Oxidative stress was comparable in both groups at inclusion. It was significantly decreased with Pycnogenol(®)  at 12 months; there was no decrease in controls. The short blessed test (SBT) value was significantly increased in controls ; but significantly decreased in the Pycnogenol(®) group.

Values for supplemented patients at 12 months were almost within the normal range (21 out or 38 were below the normal value of 4). Tolerability and compliance for Pycnogenol(®) were optimal with >97% of the doses of the supplement correctly used. No side effects were observed, recorded or described.

Conclusion: Pycnogenol(®) supplementation for 12 months appears to improve cognitive function and oxidative stress in normal subjects between 55 and 70 years of age.”

Pycnogenol® improves cognitive function, attention, mental performance and specific professional skills in healthy professionals aged 35-55.

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…

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  at 12 weeks in Pycnogenol® subjects in comparison with a non-significant variation observed in controls.

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.”

Pycnogenol® supplementation in minimal cognitive dysfunction

BACKGROUND: Impairments in cognitive function are difficult to evaluate and measure. In most cases, subjects do not perceive any alteration in their own status, particularly in case of mild cognitive impairment.

In case of minimal alterations of cognitive function, no real treatment exists at the moment. Functional and/or temporary alterations in the cerebral microcirculation may be involved in cognitive impairment, and some aspects of MCI may be theoretically caused by perfusional problems…

Pycnogenol® (Horphag) is a natural compound extracted from the bark of French maritime pine, and it is a highly standardized supplement. The aim of this registry was to evaluate the effects of supplementation with Pycnogenol® over a two-month-period in otherwise healthy individuals with minimal cognitive impairment and initial cognitive dysfunction selected on the basis of their MMSE score…

RESULTS: In the Pycnogenol® group MMSE score at inclusion was on average 21.64±1.5; after 8 weeks of supplementation, the average MMSE score increased significantly to 25.64±1.4 (P<0.05). In controls, the initial MMSE score was 22.43±1.2, comparable to the supplement group; however, in these subjects it did not show significant improvement after 8 weeks (average after treatment: 23.00±1.3). The median increase was 18% with Pycnogenol® vs. 2.48% in the SM group (P<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Pycnogenol® has shown a large number of positive effects in subjects with initial cognitive impairment, due to its effects on oxidative stress levels. The safety and tolerability of Pycnogenol® are good, and thus the supplementation regimen should be tested in larger studies with a longer follow-up.

Leave a Comment:

Ronald Quasebarth says 6 months ago

I’m in mm treatment now and have some natural aids like green tea and curcumin. Would pycnogenol possibly be helpful to me?

    David Emerson says 6 months ago

    Hi Ron-

    I have never found any sort of research that has tested pycnogenol as a MM therapy. However I can say that pyc. has been shown to alleviate ringing in your ears, cognitive dysfunction and other possible side effects of chemo.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. Hang in there.


Add Your Reply