Q. I have been on Evista for two years to prevent breast cancer after surgery and radiation for DCIS (pre-cancer in my breast). I have suffered the whole time with terrible hot flashes.

One month ago I tried pine bark extract after trying everything else from antidepressants to sleeping pills to herbs. Nothing else gave me relief at night when I most needed it. I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep for years.

Pycnogenol has worked wonders! The hot flashes are gone.

A. Research is limited, but one placebo-controlled study indicated Pycnogenol may offer relief from hot flashes (Acta Obstet. Gynecol. Scand. Aug., 2007).

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  1. Kathy

    Fenugreek can help along with pycnogenol l100mg in the morning and 100mg at night. I have heard some people only need 50mg in the morning and fifty at night. I am experimenting.
    I have used black cohosh, sage, fenugreek, red clover, and fennel. I am trying to figure out what would work best based on studies and my body. I have studied herbs and vitamins for years and work in healthcare. For me, it will be a combination of things. Hope this helps.

  2. Michele

    May 16th of this year I had to have a complete hysterectomy with oophorectomy as I was diagnosed as having uterine cancer, Grade 2. About 3 weeks into my recovery I started having hot flashes and night sweats; they have gradually become worse.
    I have been using Red Clover and Sage regularly and obviously those are ineffective. Just a few days ago I added a Black cohosh AM/PM formula AND a Phytoestrogen supplement – all to no avail at this point. Since I had cancer I can’t have any estrogen therapy.
    Now I’m reading Evening Primrose Oil may help. My arsenal is becoming extremely expensive! Does anyone know if the severity may not last long? Is this typical after a trauma like this? I am 53 years old. Prior to the hysterectomy hot flashes and night sweats were virtually non existent. Any advice, any input, any knowledge would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  3. RS

    After being thrust into premature menopause first via chemo and followed by chemical and then surgical oophorectomy and then tacking on an anti-hormone to deplete the remaining estrogen circulating in my body resulting from the adrenals that are normally allowed to do their job in enabling a little estrogen to remain in normal menopausal women, I have suffered what I consider to be pretty darn bad hot flashes (among other things) since then. At their worst, I was logging upwards of 20 per day of quite intense hot flashes–no fun at any age much less when you are under 40 and shouldn’t have to deal with them yet.
    I’ve tried various things for it–Effexor (helped the most but knocked me out such that I couldn’t stay awake during the day, even at a very low doses… suspected CYP2D6 poor metabolizer as possible reason for the degree of this side effect), Neurontin (also made me a bit tired but also seemed to make me “stupid”–negatively impacted my mind/memory more than it already was from chemo, menopause and anti-hormone therapy–and because of that I could never get the dose up enough to take more than just the edge off), and I have tried pine bark extract (Pycnogenol is the patented brand of it) as well as grape seed extract. Both helped to more than just take the edge off… at the right dose, which I am still experimenting with.
    For pine bark extract/Pycnogenol, 200 mg/day takes the edge off. Under the theory (that I read somewhere) that you needed twice as much grape seed extract to produce an equivalent effect as pine bark extract/Pycnogenol, 400 mg of that did in fact provide a similar effect. Neither make me any more sleepy or “stupid”…than I already am. ;-)
    Do some searches for each (along with the term “hot flash”) and you will find some anecdotal comments from people on both (more so the pine bark extract/Pycnogenol) on their success, and less so, failure. There have been a number of studies on the benefits of grape seed extract for various things other than hot flashes. I have researched extensively on whether either had any negative impact on women with hormonally sensitive breast cancer and have not found much info. on that (doesn’t mean it isn’t doesn’t, just not much info. on it, though some). Do your own research!
    I hadn’t heard about red clover blossom before ECC mentioned it above, but did a quick search and found some support for it’s use for hot flashes, among other things, and nothing that would suggest a negative impact on hormonal breast cancer. However, all of these are still in their relative infancy in terms of studies (much less so with grape seed extract though), particularly as they related to hormonal cancers.
    Oh yea, acupuncture helps with hot flashes for many (and there are studies that support it’s success), but that is out of my price range right now.

  4. CHARO

    To me what works for the hot flashes is cinnamon and Parsley, I make a tea with both of them and take it after I eat because most everything I eat gives me a hot flash, it’s terrible… but with the cinnamon they actually go away for a while, also try to drink 4 bottles of water (8 glasses) by 4 pm. I notice that when I don’t drink water I get a hot flash too. Hope this helps!

  5. SH

    I have used Pycnogenol for almost 2 years now. I tried it after researching, for awful hot flashes and night sweats. I read that most people get results taking 200mg, so that is where I started. My results were that yes, everything stopped, but it felt like it was trying to restart an old engine.
    My periods had stopped nine months prior, and I started experiencing a lot of the unpleasant symptoms of my monthly cycle. I dropped the dose to 150mg and found that to be a good dose for me. The flashes and sweats are not gone, but are minimal and tolerable. I take 100mg in the morning and 50mg at night. Some recommend taking one mg/per lb and since that is close to my weight, I guess that is right for me.
    An unexpected, but very good side effect is that my asthma is so much better. I was on Symbacort, maximum dosage-highest strength, and could not wean myself off, no matter how slowly I tried. I would get down to a point, then have an awful flare up and be right back where I started. I realized my asthma was better after using the Pycnogenol for a short while and I tried to taper down again.
    This time I was successful, and I have never had to go back on the steroid since. I rarely have to use my rescue inhaler, either. I notice that it seems to take about 30 minutes for the Pycnogenol to get into my system. If I am a little tight, I make sure that I have taken the Pycnogenol first, wait if possible for it to work, then use the inhaler if I still need it.
    I hope this is helpful.

  6. BA

    Dear JW,
    I think all of us using this site are becoming as frustrated as you are. Under the comment section here, you’ll see my entry asking about Pychnogenol on 3/28/10 and then you’ll see my second entry on 4/19/10 asking for more info on Red Clover Blossom. I did not receive any responses to my questions either. I can’t figure why people are willing to let other people know what is helping them for their hot flashes but don’t give us more specific information. In the meantime I continue to “burn up” up with my hot flashes every two hours/24 hours a day!!!

  7. jw

    Were there answers to the requests for sources and dosages? If yes, where are they located?
    Thanks (also looking for an uninterrupted night’s sleep…)

  8. BA

    Where do you get the Red Clover Blossom and how much do you take?
    Thank you!

  9. ECC

    I’m so very happy that you found something that helped you.
    I, too, tried Pycnogenol for these unrelenting hot flashes. I used it for over 6 months and bought it from Costco and from a reliable on-line herb distributor. Unfortunately, it didn’t work at all for me either — in fact, I’d swear it actually made the hot flashes worse.
    In my case, the only thing that works is Red Clover Blossom, and since I’ve been dealing with this since 2002, believe me, I also tried everything but have had the best luck with the Red Clover.

  10. Lori S.

    I too also tried the Pycnogenol for hot flashes. Didn’t do a thing for me. I would be willing to try again if someone out there thinks different brands might matter. Mine was from Costco and I understand that their vitamins and herbs are supposed to be very reliable and from reputable sources.

  11. BA

    I tried Pycnogenol for my hot flashes but it didn’t work. However I have been told that different brands may not work the same way. Would you tell me what kind you used, where you got it, its strength and how many you take a day?
    Thank you very much!

  12. Sarah

    How much should I take?

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