Pycnogenol Improves Attention and Hyperactivity by 20 Percent

While I was writing an article on natural products for ADHD, I came upon Pyconogenol. Pycnogenol is extracted from the bark of the French maritime pine tree. This pine grows in the coastal areas in southwest France and is touted to be the most powerful scavenger of free radicals available.

I love the story of how Pycnogenol was discovered. Supposedly King Francis of France commissioned Jacques Cartier to explore the New World in 1535. Cartier's ship became trapped near what is now Quebec. His crew became very ill with scurvy and about one fourth of them died. The local natives came to their rescue brewing them this tea made of needles and bark of the Canadian pine trees. All the sailors were well within days. It is reported that the Cree, the Anishinabeg, the Ojibwe, the Pottawatomie and the Ottawa all used this tea for its healing purposes.

The studies that I came across that looked at Pycnogenol and ADHD were all positive studies. That is, they all yielded improved results. The results, however, were in the order of 10 to 20 percent improvement in hyperactivity and inattention. If you compare this to the 80 percent improvement that you get with a stimulant, Pycnogenol is hardly worth the effort.

If you are going the natural route then Pycnogenol may be worth getting. No one is exactly sure how it helps cognitive function but that is not too surprising. We are only now figuring out the complex interactions and functions of the brain's hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. You need to be careful to buy the extract of the French maritime pine. There is another supplement called pycnogenol that is not made of French maritime bark but is sold under the same name. The true French maritime pine product also sometime comes with grape seed oil and other combinations. The combinations have not been proven to add any benefit as far as I could tell from reading the scientific literature.

Amazon has this product. This is straight French maritime pine extract. The correct dose is 1 mg per Kg of body weight which translates to roughly 1/2 mg per pound. If you weigh 150 lbs, you take 75 mg of Pyconogenol. It is considered safe.  If you get it in capsule form it will not hurt you to take 100 mg instead of 75 mg.

Medline Plus, the National Institutes of Health Medical Library gives Pycnogenol a 'C' rating and reports that more studies are necessary. Regarding side effects they report; “Pycnogenol® is generally reported as being well tolerated. Because of its astringent taste and occasional minor stomach discomfort, it may be best to take Pycnogenol® with or after meals. To date, no serious adverse effects have been reported".

The supplement is not terribly cheap but if you are trying out natural products,  it is worth a try.  Let me know if it helps you.  I am going to add it to my arsenal.  I will let you know how it goes.


  1. A quick search in Medline has this note:

    "Pycnogenol® has been used in adult patients with ADHD to improve concentration, but does not appear to be more effective than placebo. Further research is necessary in this area before a firm conclusion can be reached."

    You write that "the studies that I came across that looked at Pycnogenol and ADHD were all positive studies." Which studies did you come across (have you got citations) and when you say positive, you mean statistical positive outcomes on using Pycnogenol in ADHD?

    Please share - I'd be really interested in learning more.



  2. This is one of the studies (below). If you go onto PubMed and put Pycnogenol and ADHD in the search bar, the studies come up. Thanks!!

    Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;15(6):329-35. Epub 2006 May 13.
    Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol.
    Trebatická J, Kopasová S, Hradecná Z, Cinovský K, Skodácek I, Suba J, Muchová J, Zitnanová I, Waczulíková I, Rohdewald P, Duracková Z.

    Dept. of Child Psychiatry, Child University Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University, Limbová 1, 833 40 Bratislava, Slovakia.
    Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common psychiatric disorder in children. Pycnogenol, an extract from the bark of the French maritime pine, consisting of phenolic acids, catechin, taxifolin and procyanidins, has shown improvement of ADHD in case reports and in an open study. Aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of Pycnogenol on ADHD symptoms. Sixty-one children were supplemented with 1 mg/kg/day Pycnogenol or placebo over a period of 4 weeks in a randomised, placebo-controlled, doubleblind study. Patients were examined at start of trial, 1 month after treatment and 1 month after end of treatment period by standard questionnaires: CAP (Child Attention Problems) teacher rating scale, Conner's Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS), the Conner's Parent Rating Scale (CPRS) and a modified Wechsler Intelligence Scale for children. Results show that 1-month Pycnogenol administration caused a significant reduction of hyperactivity, improves attention and visual-motoric coordination and concentration of children with ADHD. In the placebo group no positive effects were found. One month after termination of Pycnogenol administration a relapse of symptoms was noted. Our results point to an option to use Pycnogenol as a natural supplement to relieve ADHD symptoms of children.

  3. Pycnogenol is an incredible nutritional supplement that has years and years of research and safety behind it. It helps a multitude of medical issues, ADHD being among them. As with most supplements, absorption is key to having it be effective. I have personally found a product called OPC-3 to show significant improvement in children with ADD/ADHD and autism, including my own. It is in an isotonic form, simply meaning that it is already completely bioavailable to the body for absorption - so they also get it at a high concentration. My daughter has dramatically improved focus and attention. The site we get this product from is There is information on the site about this product.


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