This posts discusses the pycnogenol benefits for endometriosis. The treatment of endometriosis requires a multi-faceted approach; one that focuses on patient symptomology, lab testing, and lifestyle medicine and an integrative approach for healing. Pycnogenol®, or maritime pine bark extract, is today’s topic of research and if it has a role in helping with healing.
What is French Maritime Pine Bark Extract?
French maritime pine bark is as the name implies: the bark of a pine tree which can be made in an extract known for natural antioxidant capacity. Pycnogenol® is the patented and proprietary powder and brand name for French Pinus pinaster bark extract and has received a lot of attention in the health world. It is an herbal, polyphenol-rich extract from a pine tree owned by Horphag Research in Geneva, Switzerland.
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What are the Researched-Backed Benefits of Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol has been the subject of over 100 research studies identified in the literature. Here is what the research literature has to say about Pycnogenol:
(All of these below bullet points are based upon a fraction the research literature. Research citations are listed at the end of the post).
- Historically used to treat inflammation and improve health;
- In human studies, has been shown to improve cognitive function after chronic administration;
- Also shown to provide potent antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory actions, improvement of endothelial function in human research trials,
- Dietary polyphenols (found in high doses in Pycnogenol) and their metabolites exert prebiotic-like effects, stimulating the growth of intestinal microbiota, which play a fundamental role in immunity;
- No side-effects noted since it came onto the market in 1970, unless for some small groups of individuals (1%) relayed gastrointestinal complaints when taken on an empty stomach.
- Potentially protective effects against chronic and degenerative diseases
- Cardiovascular benefits, such as vasorelaxant activity.
- The ability to enhance the microcirculation by increasing capillary permeability.
- Effects on the immune system and modulation of nitrogen monoxide metabolism.
- Study shows it may be helpful for mildly hypertensive patients.
- In a 12-week study of postmenopausal women pycnogenol was found to improve hydration and elasticity of skin and may be used to improve clinical signs of aging.
- Pycnogenol® supplementation for 12 weeks appears to improve cognitive function and oxidative stress in healthy professionals. The areas tested and rated included Cognitive function, attention, mental performance, sustained attention, memory, executive functions, mood and oxidative stress values, which improved in a statistically significant way for users of the pine.
- In a study monitoring benign back pain, mobility, pain, general physical capacity and oxidative stress improved in only a week with further improvements up to 4 weeks in most patients.
- Supplementation improves signs and symptoms of the menopause transition, including quality of life and oxidative stress symptoms. Here is a quote from the study: “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.”
- Also found to reduce menstrual pain and hyperactivity in clinical studies. Also found in this study “climacteric symptoms improved, antioxidative status increased, and LDL/HDL ratio was favorably altered”.
- It also inhibits the release of histamines from Mast Cells.
- Asthma patients experienced easier breathing and a normalized immune response after taking the herbal supplement.
- Associated with a reduction in pain (dysmenorrhea) from uterine cramps from menorrhea.
There are many more studies about the wonderous effects of pycnogenol for all kinds of chronic health concerns especially involving inflammatory disorders. Next well dive into the pycnogenol benefits for endometriosis.
Symptoms in Women with Endometriosis
It can get confusing for women with endometriosis to know which are the right herbs and supplements for endometriosis. It can take a lot of research and qualified expert opinions to help us along.
This site hopes to get you that much closer to understanding what your options may be. Please check with your own trusted medical professional or herbalist before starting a new supplement.
Let’s look at the pycnogenol benefits for endometriosis.
Top Pycnogenol Benefits for Endometriosis Summary
There are many pycnogenol benefits for endometriosis. Here is a summary of the top 10.
- Reduces chronic inflammation.
- Reduces benign pain.
- Reduces pain specifically in women with dysmenorrhea (pain with menstrual bleeding).
- Improves cognition and overall cognitive function.
- Improves gut microbiota and thereby the body’s immunity.
- Enhances microcirculation (stagnation can be a big issue with endometriosis)
- Improves the hydration and elasticity of the skin with anti-aging effects.
- Inhibits the release of histamines.
- Helpful in women with lowered ovarian function (estrogen) without being estrogenic.
- Protective against degenerative diseases
I’ve listed the top 10 reasons how Pycnogenol may help women with endometriosis based on the research literature. Now, let’s dive into a few of those areas more deeply.
Chronic Inflammation with Endometriosis
As I’ve written about in other posts, endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition impacting all areas of the human body. While the most commonly known symptoms are menstrual pain and infertility, the condition involves many systems of the body from the nervous system to the immune system.
Women with endometriosis may want to consider Pycnogenol as an herbal medicine option that is well studied and well reported in the research literature.
Endometriosis flare-ups can commonly cause an increase in inflammation and related symptoms.
Histamine Issues with Endometriosis
Some women with endometriosis (and probably some without endo) have histamine reactions to certain foods, personal care products and other triggers found in the environment. Usually histamine involves some issues with the immune function and mast cells. I wrote a post about uncommon symptoms of endometriosis a write a bit more in detail about histamine intolerance and mast cell activation syndrome.
It is worth noting that Pycnogenol has been found to safely treat this, by inhibiting histamine from mast cells (as noted above and cited below).
Pain associated with Endometriosis
The pain associated with endometriosis can range from mild to horrific. As someone whose pain was on the horrific side of the scale, I was highly motivated to do my clinical research and help my body out so I could function in the rest of my life.
Pycnogenol is associated with pain relief in numerous studies and without any nasty side-effects including in women with dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).
Pre-menstrual Syndrome with Endometriosis
Premenstrual syndrome also known as PMS can be severe for women with endo. Sometimes, it can be classified as PMDD, or, premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Symptoms can drastically affect mood (such as depression, anger, anxiety and strong feelings of discomfort and instability), intense fatigue, bloating, and insomnia to name a few. Others can include dizziness, light-headedness, breast soreness, breakouts and other skin issues.
Some believe that PMS can be alleviated through the balancing of the hormones, as progesterone typically is lower in women with PMS than those without. It may also have to do with inadequate nutrition and blood sugar dysregulation. In any case, it’s really unfortunate so many people have to experience this.
Many women in the study with post menopausal women’s symptoms that were similar to these were aided through Pycnogenol. While this is a different sub-set of women, some with endometriosis may benefit from this supplement.
Endometriosis and Oxidative Stress
Endometriosis due to its chronic inflammatory nature can cause a lot of oxidative stress in one’s body. The oxidative stress causes an abundance of free radicals which can damage cells throughout the body. The need for antioxidants in ones diet is extremely important in this case, because antioxidants help escort those free radicals out and away.
As mentioned above Pycnogenol is high in antioxidant capacity which is also extremely beneficial when oxidative stress from inflammation is high.
Another reason to consider this herbal supplement.
Holistic Treatment of Endometriosis
The holistic treatment of endometriosis involves lifestyle medicine, food as medicine and using nature as medicine as the situation and availability allows. Herbal medicine at times comes with some stigma, but French maritime pine bark comes with some good research and human clinical trials of which none describe negative side effects (minus the gastrointestinal effects of some 1% noted earlier).
I myself used Pycnogenol for about a year with good feelings afterwards, but I was also taking many other quality research-backed supplements and told my doctor which ones those were. It was never questioned in my case.
How much Pycnogenol should I take for endometriosis?
In clinical trials, 1 mg/kg body weight or 0.67–1.33 mg/kg body weight were applied. However, dosage will be found on the Pycnogenol bottle. You also may wish to consult with your doctor or herbalist for your particular health concern.
Does Pycnogenol reduce inflammation?
Pycnogenol has historically been used to treat inflammation and restore health. A review of the research literature points to this conclusion.
Is pycnogenol estrogenic?
Research studies have suggested that pycnogenol does not act as a phytoestrogen. Instead, experiments in animals have shown that pycnogenol stimulates the production of nitric oxide (NO). NO is a naturally occurring messenger molecule that leads to relaxation of vascular tissue, including blood vessels. The molecule can also lead to the release of neurotransmitters, which may explain the improved mood and memory found with pycnogenol.
(Information attributed from the Yang et al study (cited at the bottom of this post).)
Who should take Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol may be helpful for those with inflammatory conditions such as endometriosis or those with histamine issues (such as in mast cell activation syndrome, or MCAS); women with menopausal symptoms, and those with benign physical pain. Others may decide to try Pycnogenol based on their own research and further investigation.
Endometriosis isn’t an easy diagnosis, but there are many many ways to begin to feel better without horrible side-effects. It’s up to you to do your investigation and due diligence for what might be in your best interest. Hopefully this brings you additional information regarding the pycnogenol benefits for endometriosis.
Wishing you light and life!
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