Many parents are understandably hesitant to give their children amphetamine-like medications such as Ritalin to treat hyperactivity. The idea behind stimulant medications for ADHD is that they activate parts of the brain involved in coordination and control, such as the corpus ceruleus, so the child's brain might be able to control the child's actions.
The idea behind using pycnogenol is that it lowers the production of stress hormones and gives the brain a chance to "catch up" and regain control over reactions to stimulation.
The study at the Department of Child Psychology in Bratislava found, through testing of blood and urine samples, that treatment with pycnogenol every morning for a month lowered adrenaline levels an average of 26.2 per cent and lowered dopamine levels an average of 10 per cent. Children in the test group were given 1 mg of pycnogenol for every kilo (2.2 pounds) they weighed.
One of the authors of the study, Dr. Peter Rohdewald from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Germany's University of Munster, was quoted by NutraIngredients as having said, "The findings of this study demonstrate a significant stress hormone lowering effect for a nutritional supplement for the first time. Pycnogenol's ability to naturally treat symptoms of ADHD is what makes this extract exceptionally pleasing to parents who may be uneasy about medicating their children with stimulant medications."
Exactly how lowering stress hormones impacts behaviors has yet to be reported. Pycnogenol is extracted from French maritime pine tree bark.
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Dvoráková M, Jezová D, Blazícek P, Trebatická J, Skodácek I, Suba J, Iveta W, Rohdewald P, Duracková Z. Urinary catecholamines in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): modulation by a polyphenolic extract from pine bark (pycnogenol).Nutr Neurosci. 2007 Jun-Aug;10(3-4):151-7.