Did you begin to notice some changes in your memory, focus, attention, mood, and emotional stability when you entered perimenopause and menopause? You are not alone nor are you imagining it! The impact of this transitional time of life on your brain and brain health can be significant and it can catch many women off-guard. Fortunately, nature provides a few helpful tools for managing these brain changes, and one of them is Pycnogenol.
What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol is the registered trademark name for French Maritime Pine Bark extract that is derived from a European pine tree (Pinus pinaster) that grows in countries along the Mediterranean Sea. The active ingredients in Pycnogenol can also be obtained from peanut skin, witch hazel bark, and grape seed.
This extract has been studied extensively and found to demonstrate some antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. Pycnogenol is used for managing asthma, memory loss, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, improving blood flow, enhancing immune system function, and the prevention of infection. Some people have turned to Pycnogenol to help manage the brain health challenges that can affect women in perimenopause and menopause.
Health benefits of Pycnogenol for menopause
Use of a Pycnogenol supplement may help you manage one or more of the following issues that are common among women in perimenopause and menopause.
Fights inflammation. It’s well known that inflammation is a significant issue in menopause and that systemic inflammation has a major role in conditions that commonly affect women in perimenopause and menopause, including obesity, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. In fact, researchers report that there is “emerging evidence…that perimenopause is pro-inflammatory” and that menopause is “associated with systemic and central nervous system inflammation.
In a meta-analysis and systematic review that evaluated five trials and 324 participants, researchers found that Pycnogenol had a significant impact on reducing levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker of inflammation in the body. In an animal study, use of Pycnogenol significantly reduced pro-inflammatory substances in the brain and helped protect it against damage.
Improves memory, mood, and attention. Pycnogenol use was shown to improve memory, mood, and attention when compared with controls in an eight-week study that involved healthy individuals. In another study, 60 healthy professionals were assigned to take either 50 mg Pycnogenol three times daily for 12 weeks and follow a healthy lifestyle (nutritious food, regular sleep, daily exercise) or the healthy lifestyle alone. Use of Pycnogenol was associated with a significant improvement in mood (16% better), memory (4%), attention (13%), and mental performance (9%).
Helps reduce depression. Oxidative stress is involved in major depression, and Pycnogenol has powerful antioxidant activities. In an animal study, scientists evaluated the impact of Pycnogenol on mice with depression-like behavior. Mice treated with Pycnogenol showed evidence of reduced stress.
Enhances cognitive function. Oxidative stress is a factor that affects cognition. One way to fight the damage from oxidative stress is to take antioxidants. Pycnogenol has potent antioxidant properties, and a review of more than 100 research trials and studies has shown that cognitive function improved significantly after taking Pycnogenol.
Supplementation with a high-quality Pycnogenol product may help you preserve and manage cognitive function and brain health in perimenopause and menopause. Use according to package directions or consult with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner to determine your specific needs.