Well, I can confirm that an official study HAS been carried out on Pycnogenal for the treatment of menopause symptoms, and the results were promising:
(You'll be interested to read this, Hurdity).
I wish you the best of luck and hope you have success with it. Please report back and let us know won't you? xxxxx
Thanks for posting that Tempest - however that particular study can be discounted because it is not placebo controlled - in other words, from what I could see from the abstract, the study only compared those taking the supplement and a parallel group not taking anything, and the results were self-documented - so impossible to distinguish actual from placebo effects. In addition the most robust data are obtained when the study is also "double-blind" when neither researchers nor study participants know who is getting the actual drug/supplement and who is getting a placebo (dummy pill). It is the sort of study often used by manufacturers of such remedies to "demonstrate" their efficacy - but unfortunately is flawed.
I have a Japanese friend who has taken this successfully, it seems to be used frequently in Japan and Mainland Europe too. Coincidentally it came up in conversation at a dinner party just last week in Paris. Six menopausal women discussing how the French manage meno, quite fascinating! Funny too especially as my French is not fluent by any means! I'll post another study link below.
There are many women unable to use HRT in it's many forms, so the more investigation into finding alternatives the better. I've tried many things over the years to treat my migraine, mostly unsuccessfully but as I always say, keep an open mind and try, you can't know whether something will help you. Even if it's the placebo effect that gives you some relief, rejoice in it! As the saying goes, one man's meat is another man's poison! Another point I'd like to make is that the many specialists I've seen over the years, whom you might expect to condemn natural remedies, have each surprised me with their open minds. I suppose anything is worth a try!!
The second link was listed at the side of the first one - and is double-blind and placebo controlled - which is stated in the title. This did show promising short term results on some menopausal symptoms - still using subjective assessments but objective measurements through blood tests were not available in the abstract (although hinted at).
I thought I'd have a look up about this since I'd never heard of it and wondered why. This particular compound (pycnogenol) was patented in US (where else?) and is a generalised herbal dietary supplement containing substances known as flavonoids which have anti-oxidant properties - but not specifically for menopause. There have apparently been numerous studies - and the range of conditions it is meant to help with is enormous.
There is a Cochrane review of studies which details the quality of research carried out into various conditions but don't think menopause was included: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD008294.pub4/full
There is also an article from a US university about its use:http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/herbal-supplements/article/do-pycnogenol-supplements-work
I was interested to read what they said here:Pycnogenol has become a best-selling supplement (marketed under many brand names, with more than $500 million in annual sales worldwide), at least in part because its manufacturer has supported hundreds of studies on it and publicized the positive findings. On the basis of this research, Pycnogenol is promoted as a treat≠ment for everything from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), diabetes, erectile dysfunction, hypertension, heart disease, and blood vessel disorders to menopausal symptoms, tinnitus, arthritis, colds, skin health, cognitive function, dia≠betes-related eye problems, and allergies. Anytime itís claimed that a product is a virtual cure-all, you should be skeptical.
Also it sounds like the mechanism of action of anti-oxidants such as Pycnogenol (which contains proanthocyanidins) is very complex in cell biology terms - and the Cochrane review said this:
"It is therefore possible that excessive amounts of antioxidants may negatively affect these important physiological processes (Bjelakovic 2007). This implies that a balance between ROS and antioxidants may be critical for maintaining health."
Therefore - although some studies seem to imply positive results on specific symptoms, in the absence of long-term studies and safety data (even more important than efficacy) - I would be cautious about relying on something like this for long term control of symptoms - in the same way that Black Cohosh for example is not advised to be taken long term.
I totally agree that it is vital that long-term safe and effective alternatives to oestrogen need to be developed for those women who are unable to take HRT due to breast cancer or other serious conditions - and all good scientists have open minds when it comes to research - it is the only way that science can progress! However - all scientists operate using fundamental principles - and that is that every theory and bona fide treatment is underpinned by reliable evidence. It is immaterial whether the remedies are "alternative" or conventional - it is the evidence that matters. Placebo is indeed powerful - but as such is exploited by a huge alternative and herbal supplements industry often backed by flimsy or conflicting evidence. If an effect is purely placebo, then far better to exploit the power of the mind through techniques designed specifically designed to do so! Relaxation, mindfulness - anyone?
I got carried away there Blondie61
but as I said before good luck with it! Incidentally - there is often oestrogen "dominance" during peri-menopause due to anovulatory cycles so the womb lining (and your fibroids) builds up. However once you are post-menopause these will have shrunk and if you take HRT you also take a progestogen which protects the lining and your fibroids should not grow. I have one small fibroid which has actually shrunk despite taking medium dose HRT on a cycle!
Hopefully your flushes and sweats will diminish - but as I said before we are still here to advise if you need us