Novel Endometriosis Treatment
Endometriosis is a common cause of chronic pelvic pain as well as infertility. Now a new study lends hope to women who suffer from this agonizing condition. The study, published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine suggests that Pycnogenol, pronounced Pik-no-jen-all, brings about a 33% reduction in endometriosis symptoms.
Pycnogenol is the extract of the bark of the French maritime pine tree that contains antioxidant properties. The plant extract has already been patented for use as a treatment for the symptoms of PMS and menstrual cramps. Researchers decided to see if the extract might be an effective treatment for endometriosis because the conventional, known treatments for this condition have unpleasant side effects.
Lead researcher for the study, Dr. Takafumi Kohama remarked upon the fact that no one knows the cause of endometriosis and a curative treatment has yet to be developed. Meantime, the common treatments for the condition, for instance gonadotropin-releasing hormone agents (Gn-RHa) prevent women from conceiving during treatment and Danazol, another type of hormone treatment can bring unwanted side effects like obesity, osteoporosis and ovarian deficiency. "Our results convey Pycnogenol as an extremely effective natural treatment without dangerous side effects," said Kohama.
The study was carried out at the Ishokawa, Japan, Kanazawa University School of Medicine. The 58 participants in the study had undergone surgery for endometriosis within six months of the study's inception. The researchers began by making sure that regular menstruation and ovulation took place for three months prior to treatment, and then reevaluated the patients at weeks 4, 12, 24, and 48 after treatment with the extract. During the evaluations, patients were assessed for symptoms such as pain, breakthrough bleeding, and urinary tract and bowel symptoms. Patients filled out a questionnaire which served to evaluate the severity of their symptoms, while the physician researchers interviewed the women and administered gynecological examinations.
The patients were divided into two groups. One group took 30 mg. capsules of Pycnogenol twice a day for 48 weeks and the other group received Gn-RHa therapy in the form of 3.75 mg. leuprorelin acetate depot injections, 6 times every four weeks over a period of 24 weeks. Leuprorelin treatment affords the body a total blockage of estrogen and can't be given longer than 24 weeks without causing serious side effects.
In both groups, there were severe symptoms when treatment was begun. The group treated with Pycnogenol began a gradual reduction of symptoms at four weeks into treatment, going from severe to moderate. While the group treated with Gn-RHa improved with greater rapidity, the patients in this group relapsed at 24 weeks post-treatment.
Unlike Gn-RHa, the Pycnogenol group experienced no cessation of menstruation during treatment and while the former caused a dramatic drop in estrogen levels, Pycnogenol caused no apparent systemic effects. "In addition, five women in the trial taking Pycnogenol actually got pregnant," added Dr. Kohama.