a female construction worker wiping her brow while having a hot flash, postmenopausal hormones

Q. I saw a recent question about calming hot flashes, and it inspired me to share my experience with the herbal remedy pycnogenol.

After a few weeks of 15 to 20 hot flashes per day, I found a small mention of this natural product in a health magazine. I started taking it and after only a week I was having very few flushes.

It’s a little pricey at about $30 per month for the 100 mg dose but I will find a way to pay. It is worth every penny.

A. Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) has been shown in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials to ease symptoms of menopause, especially hot flashes and sleep problems (Journal of Reproductive Medicine, Jan-Feb, 2013 and Acta Obstetrica Gynecologica Scandinavica, Aug. 2007).

Pycnogenol seems to be a very reasonable approach to taming hot flashes. Unlike more conventional approaches such as hormone replacement therapy or antidepressant medication, it does not appear to carry frightening side effects.

You can learn more about pycnogenol and other natural approaches to easing symptoms in our Guide to Menopause. A recent review has identified black cohosh extract as also providing benefit from hot flushes  (SpringerPlus, online Feb. 10, 2015). It too has been put to the test in clinical trials and has relatively few side effects. Some women have experienced elevated liver enzymes while taking black cohosh, however, so it makes sense to ask your health care provider to keep an eye on that possibility.

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