What woman doesn’t want to make her menopause years easier to navigate? That’s what we thought! Lots of research has been invested in finding safe, effective ways to relieve the symptoms associated with this transitional time of life. Among the findings is the French maritime pine extract known as Pycnogenol, which has demonstrated this ability with research to support it.
Menopausal symptoms affect the majority of women. Approximately 75 percent experience vasomotor symptoms, which include hot flashes, night sweats, migraine, and palpitations. Urogenital symptoms (loss of libido, vaginal atrophy, urethral atrophy, urinary incontinence) affect about 60 percent of women. Less than half (about 45%) experience anger, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, loss of confidence, trouble with concentration, and other psychogenic symptoms.
What is Pycnogenol?
In 1965, a German chemist named Charles Haimoff developed a water-soluble extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree. Pycnogenol is the registered trademark name for this natural supplement that is standardized to contain 70 percent of flavonoid molecules called procyanidins.
More than 160 studies have been published involving the use of Pycnogenol, many of which have evaluated its use in the management of menopausal symptoms and other issues related to women’s health.
Pycnogenol and menopause
Which perimenopause and menopause symptoms are you experiencing? Pycnogenol may be able to provide relief. Here are some examples of what researchers have found about this natural remedy.
In one study, 70 women experiencing menopausal symptoms were assigned to either take 100 mg Pycnogenol (38 women) for eight weeks or act as controls (32). The authors evaluated 33 menopausal symptoms, and here’s what they found:
- Six of the most common symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, and irregular periods) decreased significantly after 8 weeks while the controls showed no change.
- Other symptoms that improved significantly were breast pain, feeling of electric shocks, digestive problems, headache, tingling extremities, itchy skin, and burning tongue.
- Fatigue, memory and concentration problems, depression, irritability, dizziness, and sleeping problems also improved but not significantly. The authors attributed the improvements at least partly to a reduction in oxidative stress levels.
In a Japanese study, a group of 170 perimenopausal women took 30 mg Pycnogenol or a placebo twice a day for 12 weeks. Compared with the placebo group, the women who took Pycnogenol had significant decreases in several menopausal symptoms, especially sleep disturbances and hot flashes.
Another group of 155 perimenopausal women took either 100 mg of Pycnogenol or a placebo twice a day for six months. Those in the Pycnogenol group reported an improvement in sleep, fatigue, hot flashes, anxiousness, moodiness, memory, and headache.
Women’s skin undergoes many changes in the menopause years as well, including problems with dryness, loss of elasticity, and the development of fine lines and wrinkles. In a study of 20 postmenopausal women, skin hydration and elasticity improved significantly after they took 25 mg of Pycnogenol three times daily for 12 weeks. Improvement in dryness and elasticity was apparent after six weeks. Two genes associated with collagen also increased by as much as 41 percent.
Women who are searching for a natural way to get relief from the bothersome symptoms that often accompany perimenopause and menopause may find a real friend in Pycnogenol. Dosages used in studies typically range from 60 mg to 200 mg daily.