June 20, 2008

Pycnogenol May Reduce Menstrual Pain

Pycnogenol, bark extract from a French maritime pine tree, helped alleviate extremely painful menstrual periods, Japanese researchers said.

The study showed women with dysmenorrhea -- extremely painful menstrual periods -- who took Pycnogenol experienced less pain and required less pain medications during menstruation.

Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, like aspirin or ibuprofen provide temporary help against menstrual pain, lead researcher Dr. Nobutaka Suzuki said in a statement. Unfortunately, they are generally ineffective for resolving spasmodic events and commonly cause side effects, particularly gastric problems.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted at four Japanese hospitals and involved 116 women, ages 18 to 48, suffering from menstrual pain.

Patients were monitored for five menstrual cycles.The first two menstrual cycles were utilized for establishing base-line values for pain and NSAID analgesics.

The results, published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, showed treatment with Pycnogenol lowered pain during menstruation, which was reflected by a significant reduction of NSAID used. The number of painful days due to dysmenorrhea decreased from an average of 2.1 days prior to treatment to 1.3 at both the third and fourth cycle. Discontinuation of Pycnogenol didn't cause an immediate relapse and pain medication use didn't increase, the researchers said.