Hoboken, NJ—The branded French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol from Horphag Research, based here, may minimize pain and inflammation caused by endometriosis when combined with oral contraceptives, according to a study conducted by the Brazilian Instituto da Mulher and Itaigara Memorial Day Hospital.

Endometriosis, a chronic inflammatory condition, is associated with infertility and severe menstrual pain in women. Nearly five million U.S. women suffer from the condition.

The study, published this past December in the International Journal of Women’s Health, followed 45 women, aged 22–37, who had been diagnosed with endometriosis. The women were divided into four groups who took one of two oral contraceptives either on their own or combined with 100 mg of Pycnogenol a day for three months. They reported their level of pain on a scale from 0–10.

Researchers found that Pycnogenol greatly reduced pain levels when combined with an oral contraceptive. Fifty-six percent of women taking both an oral contraceptive and Pycnogenol experienced a complete resolution of pain, while none of the women taking only an oral contraceptive reported a pain level of zero.

Peter Rohdewald, Ph.D., head of research and development at Horphag Research, says that this research shows that the antioxidant is a natural alternative which can improve the efficacy of oral contraceptives as a method of pain management. Pycnogenol is a “natural nuclear factor-kappa B inhibitor, meaning that it reduces inflammation at the onset,” Rohdewald explains, “and as a result, it may significantly reduce pain and help those who suffer from endometriosis without complication or side effects.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, May 2014