Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of Pycnogenol® standardized pine bark extract for alleviation of signs and symptoms associated with menopausal transition.
Methods: Pycnogenol® was used by 38 women as daily supplement in a dosage of 100 mg over an eight week period and menopausal symptoms were evaluated by means of a scoring system, based on a total number of 33 common signs and symptoms. A parallel control group of 32 comparable women was also followed up for the same period. Pycnogenol® was well tolerated, no side effects were reported and the compliance was very good with 98.6% of tablets used as prescribed. A range of 33 menopausal symptoms were evaluated using a scoring system with values ranging from zero (absent) to maximum 4 (very serious).
Results: A subset of six most common symptoms comprising hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, irregular periods, loss of libido and vaginal dryness showed a decrease from average 2.67/4 to 1.45/4 after 8 weeks supplementation with Pycnogenol®. The control group of women showed no change from initial average 2.72/4 to 2.73/4 after eight weeks. The improvement of symptoms was statistical significant compared to the control group. Further symptoms related to fatigue, sleeping disorders, concentration and memory problems, dizziness, depression and irritability all improved significantly with Pycnogenol® compared to baseline values but did not reach statistical significance compared to the control group of women. The sensation of pain related to headaches, breast pain, the feeling of "electric shocks", tingling extremities, burning tongue and itchy skin all improved significantly after intake of Pycnogenol® for eight weeks compared to baseline. Specifically the sensation of "electric shocks" and digestive problems improved significantly with Pycnogenol® as compared to women in the control group. The presence of elevated oxidative stress in women was investigated measuring capillary blood plasma free radicals. Oxidative stress was significantly lowered after four weeks (P<0.05) and eight weeks (P<0.022) in the Pycnogenol® group while no significant changes were observed in the control group at any time.
Conclusion: 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.