Pycnogenol - an antioxidant plant extract from French maritime pine tree bark improves signs and symptoms of menopause, say researchers.
The study conducted at Pescara University examined 70 perimenopausal women, aged 40-50 years.
Perimenopause is the term used to describe the menopause transition years, typically the years before and after the final menstrual period.
Participants were assigned to a placebo or test group. The test group was given 100 mg of Pycnogenol per day (50 mg taken twice daily), over a period of eight weeks.
Participants' menopausal symptoms were evaluated by a scoring system, based on a total of 33 common signs and symptoms, using values ranging from zero (absent) to a maximum of four (very serious). Oxidative stress levels were evaluated by measuring capillary blood plasma free radicals from a drop of capillary blood from the fingertips.
The study found that Pycnogenol substantially improved perimenopausal signs and symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irregular periods, loss of libido and vaginal dryness after eight weeks of treatment.
It also decreased bloating and improved irregular heart beat and improved digestive problems.
"As evidenced by this study, Pycnogenol may arguably represent a very effective basic, daily dietary supplement for menopausal women due to its extended range of health benefits, including cardiovascular benefits and Pycnogenol's proven ability to lower blood pressure," says Dr. Gianni Belcaro, the lead researcher from Pescara University, Italy.
Results showed that not only did Pycnogenol improve menopausal signs and symptoms, but also decreased elevated levels of oxidative stress, as shown by capillary blood tests.
Pycnogenol's ability to manage heart health is of particular significance as menopausal women live at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.
This study confirms previous findings that Pycnogenol effectively improves perimenopausal signs and symptoms.
The finding has been published in Panminerva Medica.