Hair loss during menopause can be a distressing experience for many women as much as 30% to 50%. As a health retailer and in the forefront, you play a vital role in providing accurate information, support, and effective solutions to help your customers navigate this challenging time. By understanding the connection between hair loss and menopause and offering targeted products and advice, you can make a positive impact on your customers’ lives and strengthen your reputation as a knowledgeable and compassionate health retailer.
The above mentioned study confirmed these observations in a randomized and placebo-controlled design with specific focus on Pycnogenol®’s effects on hair quality and density (3). 76 healthy menopausal women between 45 and 60 years were randomly assigned to either take 150 mg Pycnogenol® per day or placebo for 6 months.
Remarkably, hair density was significantly improved by 30% compared to baseline and by 15% compared to placebo after 2 months. The effects of Pycnogenol® stayed on a highly improved level after longer supplementation.
In addition, the study showed that Pycnogenol® significantly reduced water loss from the skin of subjects’ scalp, compared to the placebo group. This leads to a better regulated scalp skin moisture balance for healthier hair and scalp.
The study also confirmed that Pycnogenol® intake positively affects microcirculation in the skin, leading to a better supply of nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicle.
In conclusion, Pycnogenol® intake for only 2 months was efficacious in improving hair and scalp health and significantly reduced hair loss in postmenopausal women (3).
How does Pycnogenol® improve hair quality?
There are several mechanisms of action that can explain Pycnogenol®’s efficacy for hair health and beauty.
Pycnogenol® improves microcirculation
Healthy microcirculation is vital for maintaining good hair quality as it leads to a well-functioning supply of nutrients and oxygen to the scalp and the hair follicles. In several previously published studies, Pycnogenol® was shown to improve microcirculation in small blood vessels in the body, like the very fine micro vessels in the skin, fingertips and in the inner ear or the retinal capillaries in the eye (3, 6-12).
In a 3-month study on diabetic retinopathy, Pycnogenol® supplementation improved the retinal blood flow by around 30% compared to no change in the control patients (7). In another study with patients suffering from coronary heart disease, microcirculation on the fingertip improved significantly in 54% of the patients, taking Pycnogenol® and in 33% of the placebo patients after 4 weeks (8). A third study showed improved microcirculation in the legs by 34% after Pycnogenol® intake, in patients with diabetic microangiopathy (9). In addition, Pycnogenol® positively affects microcirculation in the inner ear, relieving symptoms of tinnitus (11, 12).
Pycnogenol® has anti-inflammatory effects
In addition, Pycnogenol® protects hair follicles by capturing free radicals, generated either by stress, sun rays, pollution or inflammation. In many studies, it was shown that Pycnogenol® has potent anti-inflammatory activities (13-15). Already after 5 days of daily intake, a study reported that Pycnogenol® significantly prevented the up-regulation of the pro-inflammatory enzymes 5-LOX and COX-2 (13). In another ex vivo study, plasma samples of volunteers after intake of Pycnogenol® showed to statistically significantly inhibit NF-κB activation by 15.5% and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) release by 25%, two important regulators in the inflammation process (14). In a similar study, statistically significant inhibition of inflammatory molecules COX-1 and COX- 2 was observed after intake of 300 mg Pycnogenol® (15).
Pycnogenol® is a strong antioxidant
The antioxidant activity of Pycnogenol® has been investigated in a number of clinical studies (16-23). Orally administered Pycnogenol® has been shown to both increase the plasma antioxidant capacity, expressed as oxygen radical absorbance capacity (20), and decrease the plasma oxidative stress measured as plasma free radicals (24). Pycnogenol® has further been shown to protect lipids from peroxidation by free radicals in elderly people and people with coronary artery disease (16, 17). The protective effects of Pycnogenol® on DNA oxidation was shown in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of children with ADHD, by measuring the level of oxidized purines (18).
Pycnogenol® benefits skin elasticity and hydration
Further reinforcing scalp skin health, Pycnogenol® strengthens the extracellular matrix by binding and thus protecting collagen and elastin as well as by stimulating the production of new collagen and hyaluronic acid in the skin (14, 25-27).
In a study with 78 subjects, who work outdoors in an urban area, the water loss of the skin during the hot summer season could be reduced by 14% with Pycnogenol® supplementation for 3 months and only by 5% with placebo (25). In this placebo-controlled double-blind study, the skin elasticity was shown to be improved by 13% after supplementation, compared to an increase of 1% in the placebo group.
Interestingly, clinical investigations of Pycnogenol® supplementation for 12 weeks with menopausal women, aged 55 to 68 years revealed increased hyaluronic acid synthase levels within the skin by 44%, leading to improved skin hydration (27). Hyaluronic acid synthase is the natural source of water-binding hyaluronic acid in the dermis, which moisturizes the skin and keeps it taut and smooth. Consequently, an average skin-hydration increase by 21% in the group of Pycnogenol® supplementation was found, particularly in women presenting with dry skin prior to Pycnogenol® intake. In this study, Pycnogenol® was also shown to improve skin elasticity by 25% and decrease skin fatigue by 30%. The results were paralleled by Pycnogenol®’s ability to generate skin´s connective tissue collagen in average by 40%.
In addition to stimulating the synthesis of new collagen, Pycnogenol® metabolites can inhibit the release and activity of destructive enzymes (metalloproteinases 1,2 and 9), which break down dermal tissue proteins, like collagen or elastin (14, 28). The reduced activity of these lytic enzymes saves the connective tissues from degradation, representing the basis for maintaining an elastic, smooth and youthful looking skin.
Pycnogenol® relieves menopausal symptoms
Apart from improving hair quality, Pycnogenol® has been shown to be very efficient for different other conditions or disorders connected to menopause. To date, almost 500 menopausal women took part in different studies investigating the effects of Pycnogenol® on climacteric symptoms (5, 22, 29, 30).
A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled 6-month study with 155 peri-menopausal women found all symptoms of the Women’s Health Questionnaire (WHQ) to be significantly improved in the Pycnogenol® supplementing subjects, as compared to placebo controls (22). The symptoms on the WHQ include somatic (tiredness, headache) and vasomotor problems (hot flashes, sweating), depressed mood, memory and concentration issues, attractiveness, anxiety, sexual behavior, sleep, and menstrual problems.
In another study, the symptoms of 70 women in menopausal transition were evaluated with 38 subjects being supplemented with 100 mg Pycnogenol® per day for 8 weeks (5). The scoring system included 33 common signs and symptoms of menopausal complaints, which were improved significantly after Pycnogenol® intake.
A significant efficacy of a low dosage of Pycnogenol® (60 mg daily) on climacteric symptoms could be shown in a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled investigation with 170 women (29).
Menopause is a leading risk factor of cardiovascular disease (31). Supplementation of peri-menopausal women with 100 mg Pycnogenol® per day for 6 months was shown to normalize high blood pressure and to improve lipid profile (30). Cardiovascular risk factors (homocysteine and CRP values) improved significantly and plasma free radicals decreased significantly by 22%. Additionally, almost all symptoms of a menopausal questionnaire with 34 items, were improved after Pycnogenol® supplementation.
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21. Kolacek M, Muchova J, Dvorakova M, Paduchova Z, Zitnanova I, Cierna I, et al. Effect of natural polyphenols (Pycnogenol) on oxidative stress markers in children suffering from Crohn’s disease–a pilot study. Free Radic Res. 2013;47(8):624-34.
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23. Errichi S, Bottari, A., Belcaro, G., Cesarone, M.R., Hosoi, M., Cornelli, U., Dugall, M., Ledda, A., Feragalli, B. Supplementation with Pycnogenol® improves signs and symptoms of menopausal transition. Panminerva Med. 2011;53(3):65-70.
24. Belcaro H, Cesarone, Dugall. A controlled study shows daily intake of 50 mg of French Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®) lowers plasma reactive oxygen metabolites in healthy smokers. Minerva medica. 2013;104(4):439-46.
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30. Luzzi R, Belcaro G, Hosoi M, Feragalli B, Cornelli U, Dugall M, et al. Normalization of cardiovascular risk factors in peri-menopausal women with Pycnogenol(R). Minerva Ginecol. 2017;69(1):29-34.
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