Pycnogenol, otherwise known as pine bark extract is a powerful free-radical scavenging antioxidant which has been found to curb the symptoms of endometriosis and to decrease associated markers such as CA-125.
A Japanese study (1) published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 2007 sought to investigate the effect of a daily dose of 60 mg pycnogenol (30 mg twice a day) on women with confirmed endometriosis. The women's symptoms, CA-125 and estrogen values were tracked over 48 weeks of treatment at regular intervals. The study included 58 women with endometriosis of whom 32 took pycnogenol daily while the other 26 took a standard pharmaceutical treatment: a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (Gn-RHa).
"Treatment with Pycnogenol slowly but steadily reduced the symptom scores."
Although the pharmaceutical treatment worked more quickly to reduce symptoms, signs and symptoms of endometriosis began to rebound 6 months after cessation of agonist treatment. Meanwhile, pycnogenol reduced endometriosis symptoms by 33% and this benefit was sustained after the end of the treatment period. Both treatments triggered a drop in CA-125 and the study concluded that:
"Pycnogenol is a therapeutic alternative to Gn-RHa in the treatment of endometriosis."
Important to note: five women (16%) in the pycnogenol group conceived during the study! Given that gonadotropin agonist treatments - such as Danazol and Lupron - cannot be used while trying to conceive, this study is good news for women who wish to tame endometriosis signs and symptoms while also cultivating fertility. Pycnogenol treatment, unlike agonist therapy, had no effect upon estrogen levels or menstrual frequency highlighting it's advantage as fertility-preserving endometriosis treatment.
If you are trying to conceive and have endometriosis, pycnogenol may be a fertility-preserving strategy to ask your physician about.
This article is for informational purposes and is not intended to diagnose or replace medical or dietetic information for which you should consult a physician or dietitian.
(1) J Reprod Med. 2007 Aug;52(8):703-8.
Effect of French maritime pine bark extract on endometriosis as compared with leuprorelin acetate.
Kohama T, Herai K, Inoue M.