HOBOKEN, N.J.—Pycnogenol®, a standardized natural plant extract from French maritime pine tree bark, may significantly improve the appearance, swelling and discomfort of pregnancy-induced varicose veins and spider vein clusters. (International Journal of Angiology. 2014. Online; doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1363784.)
Roughly 30 percent of women suffer from enlarged veins post-pregnancy, which can be unattractive, painful and may lead to a chronic vein condition, blood clots and ulcers if veins do not return to healthy function. Pycnogenol is available in more than 700 dietary supplements and multi-vitamins worldwide to help alleviate the issue.
"Because some varicose and spider veins may improve on their own after a year or so post-pregnancy, standard treatment is to simply wear compression stockings, which is met with low compliance because patients often find them uncomfortable," said Dr. Steven Lamm, a physician and nutritional medicine expert. "This study shows that Pycnogenol can significantly reduce the visibility of veins, swelling and pain post-pregnancy and improve blood flow in a fraction of the time as it takes when treated with compression stockings alone."
The open registry study, conducted at Chieti-Pescara University in Italy, included 133 women. All participants were recommended to wear compression stockings, as is the standard treatment, and the Pycnogenol group consisted of 64 women who elected to take the extract 100 mg/d (50 mg two times/d) in addition to wearing compression stockings.
Over six months, Pycnogenol® was shown to:
- Significantly reduce the number of varicose veins as compared to the control group;
- Significantly decrease visible clusters of spider veins (the number did not significantly change in the control group);
- Significantly reduce leg cramps as compared to control (4.6 percent with Pycnogenol; 12.5 percent in control group);
- Significantly decrease minor pain and discomfort on prolonged standing;
- Significantly reduce the number of points of major and minor venous incompetence;
- Reduce swelling (after six months, only one Pycnogenol patient reported swelling as compared to more than 13 percent in the control group); and
- Significantly decrease patient requests for additional treatment, such as chemical injections (sclerotherapy) or minor surgery as compared to the control group.
Additionally, women in the Pycnogenol group reported significantly higher satisfaction with the treatment and near perfect (96-percent) compliance; the control group registered less than 50 percent compliance with treatment.
The women included in the study had each developed varicose and spider veins during their second pregnancy and began treatment within four to eight weeks after giving birth or after conclusion of breastfeeding and without interference of hormonal treatments. All women reported good vein health in advance of their second pregnancy.
Results were reported using a number of metrics: visual recording of number and length of varicose veins and spider vein clusters; a visual analog line scale to measure heavier legs, pain on prolonged standing, restless legs and bruises; ultrasound imaging to record points of major and minor venous incompetence and clinically-reported need for additional actions such as chemical injections, surgery or other medical treatment.
After 12 months, 98 women (56 in the Pycnogenol group and 42 in the control group) were again evaluated without statistically significant changes occurring between six months and 12 months. Participants will be evaluated again at two years of treatment.
Previous research also shows Pycnogenol helps improve menopause symptoms.