Natural supplements are often seen as second-class citizens when it comes to medications, so to speak. This is because some of them have no therapeutic claim. For some reason, people see natural herbs as something foreign compared to the pills they pop in so effortlessly from the pharmacist.
But a natural supplement called Pycnogenol might make some heads turn as it has proven that it has effects with use. According a study conducted at Pescara University, Italy, the natural supplement was found to enhance mental performance.
Pycnogenol comes from a natural plant extract from the bark of a maritime pine tree that only grows in Les Landes de Gascogn, along the coast of southwest France. It boasts powerful antioxidants which act as a natural anti-inflammatory, and helps dilate blood vessels by enhancing the production of endothelial nitric oxide.
In the study done in the university however, the supplement was tested for its mental enhancement properties. Under the research, 53 Italian university students, aged 18 to 27, were separated into two groups. One group was given 100 mg of the supplement a day over a period of eight weeks, while the control group received none.
Throughout the experiment, cognitive function tests and the students' final exam scores were evaluated.
At the end of the eight-week period, findings show that those who took Pycnogenol effectively enhanced their mental performance, which included improved sustained attention, memory, and mood. In addition, students who took the supplement got higher test scores on the university exams compared to those who did not take it, as well as decreasing levels of anxiety by 17%.
Lead researcher Dr. Gianni Belcaro from the university explained that oxygen-rich blood supply to the brain plays an important role for cognitive function and improvement of vascular function that the supplement, Pycnogenol, may be responsible for.
But aside from these beneficial effects, according to QuantumHealth.com, the natural supplement can also mop-up all kinds of aggressive radicals before they cause any damage by oxidative stress while boosting the immune system. It also promotes better circulation by preventing stress-induced constriction of the arteries and blood clotting.
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