A new study has revealed that 'Pycnogenol', bark extract from the French maritime pine tree, reduces common symptoms that women entering menopause experience.
The symptoms also known as 'climacteric symptoms' include hot flashes, depression, panic attacks and cholesterol. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that perimenopause is natural for aging, and that it beckons the end of a woman's reproductive years.
The stage shows the time when a woman's body begins to move into menopause and can last anywhere from two to eight years.
'Pycnogenol was chosen for this study due to previous research revealing health benefits associated with cognitive function, skin elasticity, nitric oxide stimulation, free radical scavenging and the broadening of antioxidant activity,' said Dr. Peter Rohdewald, Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Germany's University of Munster and a lead researcher of this study.
'Achieving these health benefits is key to treating perimenopausal symptoms naturally,' Dr Rohdewald. The randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study was conducted at Ham-Ming Hospital in Taiwan with 155 peri-menopausal women.
Each day, patients either received 200 mg Pycnogenol or placebo, and recorded their symptoms using the Women's Health Questionnaire (WHQ). The WHQ consisted of the following: somatic symptoms, depressed mood, vasomotoric symptoms, memory/concentration, attractiveness, anxiety, sexual behaviour, sleep problems and menstrual symptoms.
Additionally, patients visited the clinic at one, three and six months following start of treatment. At each visit, BMI, blood pressure, lipid profile and total antioxidant status were recorded.
After six months, LDL (bad) cholesterol dropped by 10 percent with Pycnogenol treatment compared to placebo. Patients who supplemented with Pycnogenol also had increased antioxidant levels compared to the placebo group. During treatment, rapid improvement of symptoms was reported from the Pycnogenol group after one month. All symptoms of the WHQ improved significantly compared to the start of treatment, and patients did not report unwanted side effects. In the placebo group, no significant changes of symptoms were recorded.
'There is a shift away from the use of hormone replacement therapy due to side effects and in its absence women are searching for safe and natural options to help manage their symptoms. This study investigating Pycnogenol as a potential natural alternative is very encouraging in view of the safety of Pycnogenol as it does not bear any hormone-like activities at all,' said Dr. Rohdewald.
Numerous other published studies reveal Pycnogenol'seffectiveness for women's health, such as relieving menstrual pain and endometriosis, and it is patent-protected for this application. Additional studies reveal Pycnogenolis a natural anti-inflammatory, which provides the basis for the rationale to use Pycnogenol to naturally moderate inflammatory pain sensation involved in menstruation.
The study will be published in the upcoming edition of the Scandinavian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.