Pine Bark Extract Reduces Menopausal Symptoms
Researchers from Japan’s Keiju Medical Center have determined that a certain nutraceutical from pine trees can significantly reduce symptoms of menopause and perimenopause.
The researchers tested 170 women who were in perimenopause in this double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Twice a day for three months the women were given either 30 milligrams of Pycnogenol – a patented extract of the bark of the French maritime pine tree (Pinus pinaster) – or a placebo. The women were also tested for hormones and had a thorough blood analysis before and after the treatment period.
The women were also given extensive questionnaires, using the standardized Women’s Health Questionnaire, along with the well-known Kupperman index test.
After only four weeks of treatment, women taking the Pycnogenol showed significant improvement in their physical menopausal symptoms. These included problems with sleep and circulation issues – which can relate to a number of symptoms including restless legs syndrome (RLS) and hot flashes.
After the three-month trial, the Pycnogenol treatment resulted in a 56% reduction in perimenopausal symptoms using the Kupperman index. The Kupperman index rates different symptoms, each weighted to importance. They are: hot flashes, paresthesia, insomnia, nervousness, melancholia, vertigo, weakness, arthralgia or myalgia, headache, palpitations, and formication. These are rated by severity by the number of times reported per day. The highest index score is a 51.
This study confirms a study two years ago done by researchers from Italy’s Pescara University. Here 38 perimenopausal women were given 100 milligrams of Pycnogenol per day over a two month period, and compared with 32 control subjects. The researchers found that while the control group showed no improvement, the Pycnogenol group showed improvement in most of the major symptoms of menopause, in addition to decreases in “fatigue, sleeping disorders, concentration and memory problems, dizziness, depression and irritability” according to the research.
The researchers concluded:
“Pycnogenol® significantly contributed to reduce signs and symptoms associated with menopausal transitions in women investigated in this study. Furthermore, Pycnogenol® improved the quality of life of most women and these benefits may be at least in part attributed to decreased oxidative stress levels.”
Pycnogenol has been the subject of numerous other studies over the past decade. Its antioxidant potential is extremely high, and most attribute its success against cardiovascular disease and asthma as related to its antioxidant potential.
The extract from the maritime pine tree also contains a variety of phytochemicals – some that have been shown to effect nitric oxide levels – which modulate blood vessel dilation and stimulates circulation. This effect on nitric oxide in the bloodstream has other effects as well – such as strengthening immunity.
Written by Case Adams, Naturopath
Kohama T, Negami M. Effect of low-dose French maritime pine bark extract on climacteric syndrome in 170 perimenopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Reprod Med. 2013 Jan-Feb;58(1-2):39-46.
Errichi S, Bottari A, Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Hosoi M, Cornelli U, Dugall M, Ledda A, Feragalli B. Supplementation with Pycnogenol® improves signs and symptoms of menopausal transition. Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep;53(3 Suppl 1):65-70.