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Pycnogenol: Better for Endometriosis than Anything Your Doctor Can Give You?

Pycnogenol: Better for Endometriosis than Anything Your Doctor Can Give You?

Pycnogenol is derived from the bark of the Maritime pine.  Photo credit: Jean-Pol Grandmont

Pycnogenol is derived from the bark of the Maritime pine. Photo credit: Jean-Pol Grandmont

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.



Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Avatar

    Good morning! 🙂

    I was wondering what a reputable brand of pycnogenol is and where I can buy it in Australia (where I am from :))
    thanks so much for all the amazing information you share with us!

    Kind regards

  2. Avatar

    If pycnogenol is not safe to take in pregnancy, should it just be taken up to ovulation each month ? Or can it be taken all month long, including during the luteal phase, up until determination of pregnancy ?

    • Dear Becky,

      It would be best to speak to your healthcare provider or herbalist about taking pycnogenol in pregnancy. We can not suggest its use as there is little research to back its safety through pregnancy. It can be taken while actively trying to conceive and discontinued when you think you are, or upon first determination of pregnancy.

  3. Avatar

    Does a dr have to prescribe?

    • Dear Andrea,

      A doctor may prescribe Pycnogenol, but often this is not the case. Pycnogenol is available over the counter, in most health food stores/co-ops, etc.

  4. Avatar

    I was diagnosed with several complex and big endometriomas which are causing a lot of pain. I am taking pygnogenol 30mg twice daily with vitamin c 2x 1000mg, omega 3 2x 1000. I experience intense itching and hives when I take this supplement. I do not know if this is a detox reaction or an allergic reaction. And it stings when I wash my hair. The pycnogenol is making my facial skin smooth and flawless but the itching is intolerable and it gets worse when I am in the sun or near a heat source.
    I also get excrutiating pains when I use the following supplements;
    DIM, vitex, black cohosh, evening primrose oil and multivitamins of any brand. These things make my cysts get bigger faster.

    • Dear Leen,

      It is going to be best for you to work with an herbalist or naturopath near you to determine the best natural course of action based on your experiences. It would be best to stop what you feel is causing the symptoms until you find a practitioner to work with.

  5. Avatar

    Thank you so much for this. I need your advise. Please help me. I have a 6cm chocolate cyst but have not pain. My menstruation is regular and light, and I have none of the pain that normally accompanies endometriosis. Will pycnogenol help dissolve my cyst? As much as possible I do not want to undergo surgery. I am so scared. Please give me your advise, I really would appreciate it…. Thank you so much.

    • Dear Susan,

      I am sorry you are scared!

      Pycnogenol is in my opinion worth learning more about. It is also important to consider how diet and lifestyle contribute to the estrogen dominance thought to cause endometriosis to grow and flourish. This guide about the 5 Steps to Reversing Endometriosis Infertility will share more on this and other natural therapies to consider.

      I am thankful you are not in pain!

  6. Avatar

    I am undergoing IVF soon and I have Stage IV Endo. My doctor is suggesting 2 months of Lurpon after egg retrieval/before embryo transfer because she’s concerned that the Endo will affect my lining and make implantation more difficult. I am terrified of taking Lupron and want to avoid it at all cost. I am curious if Pycnogenol is OK to take during IVF stimulation, and if it could actually help rid my body of the Endo, if taken for a few months. Maybe it just helps with symptoms of Endo but doesn’t actually reduce the Endo? I did read through the study done but it doesn’t clarify if Endo was actually reduced. Is Systemic Enzyme Therapy OK to do during IVF? Thanks!

    • Dear Molly,

      It is going to be best to follow you doctor’s protocol, or find a naturopath skilled in IVF preparation and the use of natural therapies during to work with. If interested in trying pycnogenol or systemic enzyme therapy we are required to suggest you also consult your healthcare provider. Given all that is at stake and that IVF is a very controlled procedure, we don’t want anything to interfere with the process.

      Do consider learning the Natural Ways to Support Your Body Through an IVF Cycle however.

      I am sorry you are worried! I wish for you the very best!

  7. Avatar

    Is this only for treatment of pain related to endometriosis? Or does it help treat other symptoms of endometriosis as well?

    • Dear Shannon,

      The study discussed in this article speaks to how Pycnogenol provided relief from endometriosis pain only.

      Endometriosis is estrogen-sensitive, meaning that it responds to estrogen — growing in response to circulating estrogen. Excess estrogen in one of the main culprits in causing not only it’s growth, but also hormonal imbalance which then causes disordered ovulation and it’s growth outside of the uterus. It is important to not only support the body in a healthy pain response, but also in metabolizing this excess estrogen. Learn more about natural support for endometriosis infertility here…

      Consider also learning about Fertility Massage with Radiant Womb Massage Oil as a supportive natural therapy.

      There is also scientific evidence that Black Cohosh may be supportive of women with endometriosis who experience pelvic discomfort with menstruation, during non-menstrual part of the cycle, with intercourse and bowel movements, infertility, and any change in the menstrual cycle as a result of the hormonal imbalance. Learn more about Black Cohosh here…

      I hope this is all helpful!

  8. Avatar

    I have endometriosis and I am interested in all these findings about possible natural remedies. What I haven’t found till now are possible remedies/studies for endometriosis scaring/adhesions. If you find anything like this, an article on this topic would be awesome! Thanks!

  9. Avatar

    Can we take Pycnogenol during pregnancy?

    • Dear Vivian,

      We can not suggest using Pycnogenol in pregnancy unless being guided in doing so by a qualified herbalist. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “early research suggests that pycnogenol is POSSIBLY SAFE when used in late pregnancy. However, until more is known, pycnogenol should be used cautiously or avoided by women who are pregnant.”