I wrote several blogs about supplements, herbs, and natural remedies that I take or experiment with. I am interesting in slowing down aging and want to live a long, fulfilling life devoid of illnesses, diseases, and health problems. The blogs are:
- The Power of Herbs, Supplements, and Natural Remedies – explains which herbs I take and why I take them.
- Everything You Wanted To Know About Hyaluronic Acid
- The Power of Grape Seeds
- The Health Benefits of Resveratrol
- The Ancient Chinese Mushroom – Lingzhi
- The Super Antioxidant – Astaxanthin
- The Super Nutrient – Spirulina
Since ancient Greece, people have used various parts of the grapes for medicinal purposes. And current medical research has shown grape seeds bestow significant antioxidant properties. Grape seed may inhibit cancer growth, reduce heart disease, and ease other disorders caused from oxidation and inflammation.
Wine manufacturers produce grape seed extract from grape seeds. Grape seeds contain vitamin E, flavonoids, linoleic acid, tannins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and polyphenols, also known as procyanidins, oligomeric procyanidins (OPC), or oligomeric proanthocyanidins. This combination of ingredients makes grape seeds 50 times stronger than Vitamin E and 20 times stronger than Vitamin C.
Some value the procyanidins the most important ingredient in grape seed extract. These compounds are also found in grape juice, grape skins, and wine, but with lower concentrations. Pine bark (or pycnogenol) and green tea also contain procyanidins.
Researchers have shown the power of antioxidant activity of grape seeds in vitro or in test tubes. Consequently, few trials have examined grape seed extract's effects on diseases or disorders, but research suggests grape seed could treat and prevent the following health problems:
Metabolic syndrome comprises a cluster of health problems including excess belly fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and inflammation. Metabolic syndrome boosts the chance of developing heart disease or Type 2 diabetes.
In a 2009 study, 32 Type-2 diabetics with high cardiovascular risk took either a placebo every day or 600 mg of grape seed extract for four weeks. The grape seed extract significantly reduced inflammation and blood sugar levels. Thus, researchers suggest grape seed extract might alleviate problems with diabetes.
Grape seed extract may delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. According to a mice study published in 2009, scientists discovered grape seed extract eased inflammation and prevented the accumulation and formation of substances in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Scientists believe antioxidants prevent and control disease by protecting cells against damage from charged oxygen molecules called free radicals. They harm the body, damage DNA, and kill the body’s cells. Free radicals could speed aging, as well as cause several health problems, such as heart disease and cancer.
Healthy volunteers taking grape seed extract substantially boosted their levels of antioxidants in their blood. Antioxidants in grape seed extract may neutralize the free radicals. Thus, grape seed extract would benefit the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, inflammation, blood sugar regulation, and nervous systems.
Despite the French eating large amounts of saturated fat in their diet, they experience much lower rates of heart disease than one would expect with such high saturated fat intake. They call this the French Paradox because the French drinks red wine regularly, and the wines reduce inflammation and boost antioxidants in the body.
The cardiovascular system reaps the most benefits of the wine’s antioxidants. Our blood vessel linings need strong antioxidant support because the arteries carry large concentrations of oxygen, and the blood cells and vessel linings need protection from oxygen damage.
Chronic inflammation in our cardiovascular system can trigger many types of cardiovascular disease, and the body must regulate inflammation especially to reduce atherosclerosis and other conditions.
Grape seed extract can improve eye health. It could combat cataracts, eyestrain, and macular degeneration – a condition when people lose clear vision. For example, people taking 300 mg of grape seed extract daily for 60 days had reduced their eyestrain from prolonged computer use. In small scientific trials, diabetics taking grape seed extract reduced diabetic retinopathy – a disease of the retina caused by high blood sugar levels.
Grape seed extract could reduce edema quickly. Edema is swelling caused by surgery or injury and is common after breast cancer surgery. In one study, breast cancer patients taking 600 mg of grape seed extract daily for 6 months after surgery experienced less edema and pain than those taking a placebo. In another study, people taking grape seed extract after a sports injury experienced less swelling than participants taking a placebo. Finally, wounds treated with grape seed extract heal faster and scar less than wounds treated with a placebo solution.
Some believe the phytonutrients in grapes extend longevity. Procyanidins may protect the body from premature aging. Scientists believe the procyanidins raise vitamin C levels in the cells, and the procyanidins scavenge for toxins, removing the toxins from the organs.
Improve Mental Alertness
Grape seed extract, one of the few antioxidants, could protect nerve and brain cells by passing through the blood-brain barrier. Thus, it could reduce inflammation in the brain.
In one study, participants drinking from one to two cups of Concord grape juice daily boosted their scores on the California Verbal Learning Test. In another study, grape seed extract might treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) because it regulates the neurotransmitters in the brain and slows the breakdown of norepinephrine and dopamine.
People can take grape seed extract for younger looking skin. The procyanidins bond with collagen, the body’s most abundant protein. Collagen comprises an important component of bones, gums, hair, skin, teeth, and body tissues. The bonding supports cell health and improves the skin’s elasticity, making the skin more youthful, similarly to a natural face-lift. Moreover, procyanidins help protect the body from sun damage, which causes premature aging of the skin.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties of grapes can protect people against cancer because ingredients in grapes reduce chronic oxidation and chronic inflammation. In laboratory studies, scientists have shown grape seed eliminates free radicals, which damage DNA and spur development of cancer. If oxidation overwhelms the body’s cells, the oxidation damages cell structures, causes chronic inflammation, and boosts cancer risk.
In vitro, or test tubes, grape seed procyanidins reduced tumor numbers and lowered the malignancy of papillomas - a benign tumor that forms a rounded mass on organs’ surfaces.
According to the American Cancer Society, we have little reliable scientific evidence at this time that drinking red wine, eating grapes, or following a grape diet can prevent or treat cancer in people. For instance, researchers had found grape seed extract did not alleviate the hardening of breast tissue in female patients undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer.
Heart and Circulatory System
Antioxidants, found in grape seeds, could protect blood vessels from damage and could reduce high blood pressure. According to researchers at the University of California Davis School of Medicine in 2009, participants with metabolic syndrome taking grape seed extract for four weeks had lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure. They lowered their systolic pressure by 12 mm and their diastolic pressure by 9 mm.
In one study, 40 people with high cholesterol took either grape seed extract, chromium, a placebo, or a combination of grape seed extract and chromium for 2 months. Participants taking both the grape seed extract and chromium had lowered their LDL, “bad” cholesterol than either grape seed alone or a placebo. In another study, 24 healthy male smokers aged 50 years or older took either a placebo or 150 mg of grape procyanidin extracts and soy phosphatidalcholine, twice daily for 4 weeks. The participants taking grape seed extract had lowered their “bad” LDL cholesterol levels than those taking placebo.
Grape seed extract could treat poor circulation and chronic venous insufficiency, where the veins have problems moving blood from the legs to the heart. People suffering from chronic venous insufficiency experience blood pooling in the legs and constant pain, swelling, fatigue, and visible veins.
Grape seed extract may do the following to the circulatory system:
- Improve vascular strength and strengthen blood vessels.
- Alleviate atherosclerosis
- Reduce cells from sticking to the blood vessel walls, and platelet cells clump together less.
- Lower inflammation in the blood
- Boost glutathione levels in the blood. Glutathione, a body’s enzyme, scavenges for free radicals.
Other health benefits
Grape seed extract may provide the following health benefits:
- Reduce constipation
- Alleviate gastrointestinal disorders
- Reduce the growth of certain bacteria that metabolizes sugar and causes cavities
- Increase bone density and strength
- Possesses anti-viral and antibacterial properties
- Improves liver function
Dosage and Toxic Effects
If you plan to utilize grape seed extract to treat or prevent a medical condition or disease, please consult your physician first. Side effects include dry, itchy scalp, dizziness, headache, high blood pressure, hives, indigestion, nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, sore throat, cough, and rash.
People can take grape seed extract by mouth, but it tastes bitter. People should take capsules. Supplements usually supply between 50 mg and 100 mg of grape seed extract.
Currently, we have insufficient research about the long-term use of grape seed extract, and how it affects health or diseases. Furthermore, researchers have not studied how grape seed extract may interact with medicines or other supplements.
If people taking blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder should avoid grape seed extract unless your doctor prescribes it. Procyanidins reduce platelet adhesion and may act as a blood-thinner, increasing clotting time.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid taking grape seed supplements. Children should not take grape seed extract, but they should snack on whole grapes because grapes are healthy and safe.