In the randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study, Pycnogenol helped reduce hyperactivity and improve attention, concentration and motor-visual coordination in children with ADHD.
"These findings are especially notable for parents who are concerned about overmedicating children diagnosed with ADHD. Many families are seeking natural options to avoid the potentially dangerous side effects of prescription drugs," said Dr. Peter Rohdewald, Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Germany's University of Munster and one of the authors of the study.
"The results of this study show Pycnogenol may serve as a safe, effective treatment for children diagnosed with ADHD. French maritime pine bark extract reduced hyperactivity among study participants, while improving attention and visual-motor coordination and concentration of these children," said Rohdewald.
The study sampled 61 out-patients with ADHD with an average age of 9 ˝ years, from the Department of Child Psychology at the Children University Hospital in Slovakia.
Forty-one patients received Pycnogenol and 16 received placebo. Patients were not supplemented with any other drugs or with vitamins E or C during the study. The placebo contained lactose (58 mg) and cellulose (65 mg). Participants in the Pycnogenol group received 1 mg of Pycnogenol or placebo for every kilogram of body weight, on a daily basis each morning, for one month.
Participants were given a basic psychiatric examination; an evaluation by teachers and parents using the Child Attention Problems scale (CAP), the Connor's Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS) and Connor's Parent Rating Scale (CPRS) and a psychological investigation before treatment, one month after the study began and one month after the end of the study.
After one month of Pycnogenol treatment, the participants' teachers compared the pre-test CAP and CTRS results with those scores after one month of treatment with either Pycnogenol or placebo. There was a significant drop in hyperactivity and inattention compared to start of the study and placebo.
The CPRS results, evaluated by parents after one month of treatment, showed a decrease in hyperactivity compared to the scores at the start of the study. The results for motor-visual coordination and concentration showed a significant increase for participants who took Pycnogenol after one month of the study period compared to before the study started. Participants who took placebo showed no significant improvement in these scores.
The researchers also found that, one month after termination of treatment, symptoms returned to their levels as measured before the study started in the Pycnogenol group, strongly suggesting the antioxidant's effect on reducing ADHD symptoms.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7.8% of American Children are diagnosed with ADHD and 4.3% of children are taking medication for this disorder.
Most types of medications used to treat ADHD can be addictive and may have major side effects. Stimulant medications such as Ritalin, Dexedrine and Adderall are the most common treatments for ADHD and side effects often include depression, anxiety and irritability.
The CDC estimated nearly 3,100 people are admitted to emergency rooms each year due to stimulant drugs. An estimated 3.3 million Americans under the age of 19 and 1.5 million Americans over the age of 20 take ADHD medications. Pycnogenol was chosen for the study because it continues to scientifically demonstrate health benefits without serious side effects or addictive properties. Published findings have demonstrated Pycnogenol's beneficial effects in heart, circulatory, skin and cognitive function, among others.
"ADHD is affecting the quality of life for so many children and their families. It is imperative that science explores natural means to provide expanded treatment options. We look forward to advancing this promising research," said Rohdewald.