Study Finds Pycnogenol® May Be Effective for Managing Pediatric ADHD Without Side Effects Commonly Associated With Pharmaceuticals

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The new study delivers promising findings for parents and caregivers seeking a natural alternative to manage pediatric Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) behaviour. Researchers found the super-antioxidant Pycnogenol® French maritime pine bark extract may be effective in managing hyperactivity and impulsivity in children aged six to twelve without many of the adverse side effects experienced with the common therapy of methylphenidate, a prescription stimulant. The study measured observations and feedback from teachers and parents.

Characterized by developmentally inappropriate hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention levels, ADHD is the most common pediatric neurocognitive behavioural disorder. This research builds on previous studies positioning Pycnogenol® as a critical natural ingredient for the 2.4 million children in the U.S. diagnosed with ADHD looking to reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity without the adverse side effects that could steer some to stop typical pharmaceutical treatment.

“ADHD is a perplexing condition, and treatment can be frustrating for many parents and children. Parents often feel reluctant to continue with prescription pharmaceuticals due to common side effects,” says author and renowned natural physician Dr. Fred Pescatore. “Management of ADHD behaviour is pivotal to improved school performance and self-esteem, especially during a child’s formative years. This study suggests a promising natural path option.”

The study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, tested 88 children aged six to twelve for ten weeks. Participants were split into three groups: placebo, methylphenidate and Pycnogenol®. The children supplemented at breakfast with either one or two capsules, depending on their weight. Those under 66 pounds were supplemented with 20 mg/day of Medikinet® (methylphenidate) or 20 mg/day of Pycnogenol®. Those 66 pounds or heavier are supplemented with 30 mg/day of Medikinet® (methylphenidate) or 40 mg/day of Pycnogenol®.

Teachers and parents filled out various questionnaires at baseline and after five and ten weeks, including the ADHD Rating Scale (ADHD-RS), which assesses nine inattention and nine hyperactivity/impulsivity items. Some of the criteria assessed included difficulty following instructions, difficulty organizing tasks and activities, fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming in the seat and interrupting or intruding on others.

After ten weeks, teachers reported the Pycnogenol® group showed:

29% decrease in overall ADHD rating scale (vs. 45% decrease with methylphenidate vs. 5% decrease with placebo)
34% decrease in hyperactivity/impulsivity (vs. 36% decrease with methylphenidate vs. 1% increase with placebo)
25% decrease in inattention (vs. 52% decrease with methylphenidate vs. 9% decrease with placebo)

After ten weeks, parents reported the Pycnogenol® group showed:

11% decrease in overall ADHD rating scale (vs. 28% decrease with methylphenidate vs. 1% increase with placebo)
12% decrease in hyperactivity/impulsivity (vs. 28% decrease with methylphenidate vs. 2% increase with placebo)
10% decrease in inattention (vs. 29% decrease with methylphenidate vs. 1% increase with placebo)
Children in the study who were supplemented with the pharmaceutical showed improvement in ADHD behaviour yet experienced up to five times more adverse effects than those who were supplemented with Pycnogenol®. Specifically, loss of appetite and unwanted weight loss was observed with the pharmaceutical but not with Pycnogenol®. The researchers conclude, “In pediatric ADHD and especially in the primary school environment, Pycnogenol® was proven to be a good alternative for methylphenidate for those willing to wait a few weeks for effects, a fortiori when considering its almost complete lack of adverse effects as opposed to methylphenidate.”

This research expands Pycnogenol®’s deep catalogue of clinical research for cognitive support, solidifying the natural ingredient’s ability to manage ADHD behaviour without disruptive side effects. A 2006 study conducted in the Department of Child Psychiatry at the University Hospital in Bratislava found that Pycnogenol® relieved hyperactivity and improved the attention of children with ADHD compared to a placebo. Another study conducted in 2006 found that Pycnogenol® normalizes the total antioxidant status of ADHD children.

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