Pycnogenol®: A Hero Ingredient for Women

Pycnogenol®, a patented extract from the bark of the French maritime pine (Pinus Pinaster), has been studied extensively for women’s health, with science supporting benefits for a range of common concerns. In this article, we’re going to touch on some of these benefits, and the research that support them!


Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Menstrual Discomfort


According to the Office on Women’s Health [1], 90% of women with menstrual cycles experience some symptoms of PMS, such as abdominal bloating, headaches, mild cramping, and mood changes. And while women may not experience them during every cycle or at every age, they are common enough to be thought of as normal, even if they are uncomfortable. For this reason, women are frequently looking for gentle solutions to support these symptoms.


Studies suggest that Pycnogenol® might offer one such solution premenstrual syndrome (PMS) relief. A 2004 study actually found that women taking 30mg of Pycnogenol® experienced less discomfort and required fewer interventions during menstruation. [2] Additionally, a later unpublished study presented in the European Bulletin of Drug Research found that over the course of 2 cycles, women taking Pycnogenol® experienced “…reduction in abdominal discomfort by 80% and cramping by 77%. [3] Unlike many common herbs used in women’s health, Pycnogenol® has also been shown to be safe in combination with hormonal birth control at doses up to 100mg daily [4], and has not been shown to alter natural hormone levels even when taken long term. [5]




Menopause is a normal process that effects all women at some point, but it occurs most commonly around the 5th decade of life. According to the National Institute on Aging, it is common for women to experience hot flashes, night sweats, changes in sleep patterns, mood fluctuations, low moods, and changes in sexual health during menopause.


Many of the common natural products that women turn to to support them during menopause, like soy and red clover, contain compounds the mimic estrogen (phytoestrogens). And while these can support the relief of symptoms, they certainly are not for all women. However, Pycnogenol® has been shown to safely support women with relief for most of the common concerns of menopause without having phytoestrogen effects – a 2012 study published in Phytotherapy Research found significant improvement in hot flashes, night sweats, mood, and energy levels after 8 weeks of Pycnogenol® supplementation. [6] Pycnogenol® has also been shown to support skin elasticity and moisture, both of which can decline during and after menopause. [7] 


Bone Health


Unfortunately, menopause brings hormonal changes that can lead to increased risk of bone loss. Fortunately, several studies (conducted mainly in animals and postmenopausal women), suggest that Pycnogenol® may slow down bone loss associated with normal aging; it might achieve this by improving bone turnover markers and supporting collagen production, though the exact mechanism is not known. A 2018 study in Phytotherapy Research demonstrated that Pycnogenol® supplementation reduced bone loss and even increased BMD in the lumbar spine compared to a placebo, [8] however, larger and longer-term studies are necessary to solidify these findings.


The Takeaway… 


Overall, Pycnogenol® shows promise for addressing many common health concerns that women experience throughout life. It appears to be very safe and offers many benefits for women of all ages without the potential drawbacks of herbs that may only target one or two select concerns. And while there are no perfect natural solutions for all women, Pycnogenol® does appear to be a hero ingredient for the range of health benefits to offers that are specific to the needs of women. 



  1. Home | Office on Women’s Health. Accessed February 5, 2024.
  2. Kohama T, Suzuki N, Ohno S, Inoue M. Analgesic efficacy of French maritime pine bark extract in dysmenorrhea: an open clinical trial. J Reprod Med. 2004;49(10):828-832.
  3. Pycnogenol®: Menstrual discomfort. Accessed February 5, 2024.
  4. The Effect of Oral Contraceptives Combined With Pycnogenol (Pinus. Accessed February 5, 2024.
  5. Kohama T, Herai K, Inoue M. Effect of French maritime pine bark extract on endometriosis as compared with leuprorelin acetate. J Reprod Med. 2007;52(8):703-708.
  6. Yang HM, Liao MF, Zhu SY, Liao MN, Rohdewald P. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the effect of Pycnogenol® on the climacteric syndrome in peri-menopausal women. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2007;86(8):978-985. doi:10.1080/00016340701446108
  7. Marini A, Grether-Beck S, Jaenicke T, et al. Pycnogenol® effects on skin elasticity and hydration coincide with increased gene expressions of collagen type I and hyaluronic acid synthase in women. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2012;25(2):86-92. doi:10.1159/000335261
  8. Panahande SB, Maghbooli Z, Hossein-nezhad A, et al. Effects of French maritime pine bark extract (Oligopin®) supplementation on bone remodeling markers in postmenopausal osteopenic women: A randomized clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2019;33(4):1233-1240. doi:10.1002/ptr.6320