Pycnogenol® in Menopause
The menopause is an increasingly talked about subject and is becoming more prevalent in today’s media. Menopause marks the end of fertile years, but it also affects various physiological systems as a result of fluctuating hormone levels. It is a life-changing phase in all women’s lives commonly occurring between the age of 45 and 55 years old. The transition can last between a few months and a few years, but every woman’s perception is different regarding the severity and variety of symptoms they experience during this period. Amongst others, climacteric symptoms can include cognitive impairments (memory & concentration), palpitations, loss of libido, hot flushes, night sweats, low mood, anxiety, insomnia/sleep problems, dry skin, joint and muscle aches, and impaired sense of attractiveness.
Hormone therapy (such as estrogen-progestogen) has long been used as a means of treating menopausal symptoms, however it has been documented that there may be increased risk and adverse effects associated with this option, including venous thromboembolism, strokes and breast cancer. Hence many women are now looking towards more natural and non-hormonal ways to manage the signs and symptoms of menopausal transition. Through research and controlled studies Pycnogenol® seems to have been deemed a suitable option.
Pycnogenol® is a French maritime pine bark extract that is commonly known for its properties as a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory as well as circulatory booster.
One clinical investigation into the effects of Pycnogenol® on climacteric symptoms saw one randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled 6-month study involving 155 peri-menopausal women, conclude that it may offer an alternative method to reducing climacteric symptoms without unwanted effects. It found that all symptoms of the Women’s Health Questionnaire (WHQ contains a total of 36 questions relating to peri-menopausal symptoms) were improved in those supplementing with Pycnogenol®.
In another study 70 women in menopausal transition were evaluated. 38 were given 100mg of Pycnogenol® per day for 8 weeks. A range of 33 menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, irregular periods, and loss of libido were evaluated using a scoring system, and the results were improved significantly after Pycnogenol® intake. These women also showed a significant reduction in the levels of oxidative stress.
Pycnogenol® also has been shown to help with the health of ageing skin. One study of 20 post-menopausal women saw them supplement with Pycnogenol® for 12 weeks. Results showed significant improvements in the hydration and elasticity of the skin.
Pycnogenol® has been widely studied in a number of areas, and results show it is well tolerated without affecting hormone levels. Interest is increasing for the use of natural supplements - including Pycnogenol® to cope with the menopause. Studies have shown beneficial results involving doses of between 60mg – 200mg. They have demonstrated that it can improve menopausal symptoms, as well as helping cardiovascular health, which is an increased risk factor with the menopause. Joint and skin health are also of increasing concern in menopausal women – areas in which Pycnogenol® has also been found of benefit.