A new study has been planned to evaluate the effect of two
herbal preparations on cognitive performance in the elderly.
Old age is associated with a number of health issues
like heart disease, lung disease, and especially issues affecting the brain
like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Old
age is associated with a decline in memory, reasoning, decision making,
information processing and cognitive speed. These occur due to physical
changes in the brain like shrinking of the brain and degeneration of certain brain
Free radicals are continuously formed in the body
during various metabolic processes as well as due to exposure to external
conditions like cigarette smoke and radiation. Free radicals produce oxidative
damage to the brain. The ability of the brain to deal with the oxidative stress
reduces with age, leading to a cognitive decline. Thus, antioxidants may help to slow down cognitive decline. Two
herbal medications with antioxidant properties will be evaluated in a planned
study. These include Pycnogenol and Bacopa.
Pycnogenol is a product made from the
bark of French maritime pine trees that contains condensed flavonoids It has
been shown to provide some protective effects on the brain in some studies.
monnieri is a traditional Ayurvedic medicine used for memory decline. Its effect has been proved
in multiple animal studies. In addition
to antioxidant effects, it also produces its action through other mechanisms
like anti-inflammation and improvement of blood circulation.
benefits of these two products, a study is being carried out to evaluate the
effect of Bacopa and Pycnogenol on cognitive performance in elderly individuals
over a period of 12 months. The duration of the cognitive benefit will also be studied. In addition,
mechanisms that lead to the benefit will be looked into.
The study will be conducted in Centre for Human
University, Melbourne and the University of Western
Sydney, Australia on 465 healthy, elderly participants between 60 and 75 years
Blood testing and cognitive function tests will be
carried out on the participants during the initial visit. Following this, a
baseline assessment will be done. The participants will then receive either a
Bacopa preparation called CDRI08, Pycnogenol, or a placebo (an inert substance
for comparison). The patients will be followed up periodically for a period of
12 months. Besides cognitive function, other tests like blood pressure
measurements, biochemical tests and genetic tests will also be carried out to
understand the mechanisms responsible for the cognitive benefit, it any.
If the medications prove to be effective, they could
be a blessing on the elderly population that currently has very few medications
to help with cognitive decline.
1. Con K
Stough et al. A randomized controlled trial investigating the effect of
Pycnogenol and Bacopa CDRI08 herbal medicines on cognitive, cardiovascular, and
biochemical functioning in cognitively healthy elderly people: the Australian
Research Council Longevity Intervention (ARCLI) study protocol
(ANZCTR12611000487910). Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:11