Will Bacopa and Pycnogenol Improve Cognitive Performance in Elderly?

by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  March 23, 2012 at 3:27 PM Health In Focus
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A new study has been planned to evaluate the effect of two herbal preparations on cognitive performance in the elderly.
Will Bacopa and Pycnogenol Improve Cognitive Performance in Elderly?
Will Bacopa and Pycnogenol Improve Cognitive Performance in 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 areas.

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.

Bacopa 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.

Considering the 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 Psychopharmacology, Swinburne

University, Melbourne and the University of Western Sydney, Australia on 465 healthy, elderly participants between 60 and 75 years of age.

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.

References :

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 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-11.

Source: Medindia

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