Considered to be one of the leading causes of infertility, endometriosis is a condition which occurs when the endometrial lining implants itself outside the uterus. These tissue deposits can occur nearly anywhere in the abdominal region, and during the monthly cycle they bleed and shed just as the lining of the uterus does. The result is scarring and inflammation anywhere the lesions exist, often causing excessive amounts of pain in addition to issues with fertility.
It is believed that approximately 176 million women worldwide suffer from endometriosis. There are only theories surrounding the potential causes, and treatments can range from invasive surgeries to debilitating drugs. No known cures exist, and most of the available treatments today are simply Band-Aids, which only work for a small percentage of patients.
Many of those treatments involve altering a woman’s hormones, sometimes to the point of medically-induced menopause. Most of these treatments come with a long list of side effects, and nearly all of them inhibit pregnancy. For women who are hoping to conceive, the options available for treatment are often far from ideal.
Study Shows: Pycnogenol a Natural Option for Endometriosis
What if there was a supplement that could ease symptoms, while still allowing women with endometriosis to achieve pregnancy naturally?
It turns out, there is. A 2007 study printed in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine revealed promising results for the use of Pycnogenol in the treatment of endometriosis. Extracted from the bark of French maritime pine trees, Pycnogenol was found to significantly reduce the symptoms of endometriosis in study participants by up to 33 percent.
This incredible supplement had already been gaining attention for its benefits in relation to PMS and menstrual pain, when it was selected by researchers in Japan for a comparative study against Gn-RHa therapy. Gn-RHa is one of the more common treatments utilized today for endometriosis, given typically through monthly or every three-month injections, in order to stop the production of estrogen in the body. When this happens, a woman is effectively put into a temporary state of menopause for as long as treatment continues. Side effects can include hot flashes, headaches, and long-term bone density issues. While receiving this therapy, women are also unable to achieve pregnancy.
Doctors continue to prescribe Gn-RHa treatments, however, because endometriosis is believed to be an estrogen dependent disease. The theory is that, by shutting down the production of estrogen, the endometrial implants will become inactive and begin to degenerate. Unfortunately, because of the long-term side effects, Gn-RHa treatments can only be utilized for a period of up to one year. After that point, treatment must be discontinued and endometriosis symptoms often return full-force.
For the purposes of this study, participants were split into groups, either receiving Gn-RHa therapy or Pycnogenol. They were then evaluated at various points throughout the study, which lasted up to 48 weeks in total. Those patients in the Pycnogenol group took 30 mg capsules of the supplement twice daily throughout the course of the study. Initially, it seemed as though patients in the Gn-RHa treatment group were receiving more relief than those taking Pycnogenol, but by 24 weeks – those receiving Pycnogenol were reporting greater levels of relief overall, while those receiving Gn-RHa reported an increased relapse in symptoms.
Results Find Reduced Pain & Symptom Relief
When it comes to supplements and natural treatments, this can often be the observed trajectory. It simply takes longer for natural treatments to begin building up the necessary nutrients within the body to create a noticeable difference. Once that difference is made, however, it is well worth the extended timeline to get there. In this case, patients in the Pycnogenol group experienced virtually no side effects from the supplement, even as their pain levels were continuing to decrease. By the end of the trial, those women taking Pycnogenol were reporting greater overall relief than those in the Gn-RHa group, and that relief also lasted for longer after the discontinuation of treatment than it did for those receiving Gn-RHa therapy.
That isn’t all. While women receiving the more traditional Gn-RHa treatment ceased having menstrual cycles during the study period, five of the women receiving Pycnogenol actually became naturally pregnant during that same time.
So far, studies looking into the effectiveness of Pycnogenol for the treatment of endometriosis have been small, and not all doctors are even aware of the possibilities. The studies and anecdotal stories we have up to this point are quite hopeful though, and since there are virtually no known side effects or safety concerns surrounding the use of Pycnogenol, it is certainly a supplement worth trying.
If you have been suffering from endometriosis and struggling to find a solution, consider giving Pycnogenol a try before opting for some of the harder hitting drugs. By taking anywhere from 50 mg to 100 mg per day, you should begin to notice a difference in your overall symptoms and pain levels after about three months. And because you will be able to continue menstruating while on this supplement, the possibility remains for a natural pregnancy to occur even as you are in the midst of treatment.
- Pine Bark Significantly Reduces Endometriosis, New Study Finds. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/64791.php
- What is endometriosis? Causes, Symptoms and Treatments. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.endofound.org/endometriosis
- Wood, R. (n.d.). GnRH. Retrieved from: http://endometriosis.org/treatments/gnrh/
- Pycnogenol: MedlinePlus Supplements. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/1019.html