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French Maritime Bark May Ease Menopause Symptoms

For some women, menopause can be an extremely trying period of their lives and there are relatively few treatment options available. However, a new study suggests that taking a daily supplement of Pycnogenol®, a branded extract of French maritime bark, may help menopausal women feel better.

The researchers were based at Pescara University in Italy and their findings were published in the September 2011 issue of Panminerva Medica.

Study participants included 70 peri-menopausal women between the ages of 40 and 50. They consumed either a placebo or 100 mg of pine bark extract daily for eight weeks. To measure menopause symptoms, the researchers administered a scoring system based on 33 common signs and symptoms that ranged from 0 (nonexistent) to 4 (very serious).

At the conclusion of the study, the supplement group reported significant reductions in hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irregular periods, loss of libido and vaginal dryness. The average score for these symptoms fell from 2.67 to 1.45. In comparison, the placebo group showed essentially no change, going from an average score of 2.72 to 2.73 during the same time period.

The supplement group also showed reduced levels of oxidative stress, which could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Menopausal women are at an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.

Pycnogenol® has been shown to help with allergies, asthma, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure, muscle soreness, osteoarthritis, diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, endometriosis, menopausal symptoms, erectile dysfunction and retinopathy.

Pycnogenol® is water soluble, meaning it can be added to the production of many common foods. It is currently included in dietary supplements, cosmetic products, and a variety of foods and drinks.

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