Objective: A previous open study demonstrated that French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) may soothe menstrual pain in dysmenorrhea. We thus investigated the effects of Pycnogenol on menstrual pain in a double-blind study.
Study design: Subjects were 116 women aged 18-48 years. The first 2 menstrual cycles served as a control period; during the subsequent 2 menstrual cycles women received either a Pycnogenol supplement (60 mg/day) or a placebo in identical capsule form. One further cycle was monitored after cessation of capsule administration. Women were assigned to either a group with low menstrual pain or a group with dysmenorrhea. The criterion for assignment to the first group was absence of analgesic medication.
Results: In women with low menstrual pain, no significant difference for lowering of pain scores was found. In contrast, women with dysmenorrhea had a significantly lower pain score and required statistically significantly less analgesic medication during supplementation with Pycnogenol. The number of days women required analgesic medication was likewise found to be statistically significantly lowered in the Pycnogenol group. Even after discontinuation of Pycnogenol supplementation, the required analgesic medication remained significantly decreased.
Conclusion: The analgesic-sparing effect of Pycnogenol increases with duration of supplementation and benefits persist even after discontinuation.