Botanical: Vitis vinifera
Family: Vitaceae (grape)
Other common names: Red Wine Extract, OPCs (Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins), Muskat,
PCOs (Procyanidolic Oligomers)
Grapeseed is considered to be an exceptionally powerful antioxidant and is said to help protect the entire body as one of the most effective free-radical fighters ever discovered. Of all the herbal supplements, Grapeseed ranks at the top of the list in supporting vascular health and promoting healthy cardiac function by strengthening blood vessels, increasing blood circulation, lowering cholesterol and reducing platelet aggregation (clots) in the blood.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Seeds of the fruit of the vine, once discarded as waste after the juice was pressed out for wine, have become the source of an exceptional dietary supplement. Grapes appear to have originated in the Mediterannean regions of southern Europe and Middle East, thriving in deep, moist, humus-rich, neutral-to-alkaline soil in sun and warm climates; and the grape's hardiness varies according to the cultivar. Grapes were first cultivated near the Caspian Sea, and their use as food and drink had spread throughout the Mediterranean world before The Bible was written. They were cultivated in Egypt over four thousand years ago, and even the ancient Greeks believed that wine had wonderful health benefits. Wine was also used by early Minoan and Etruscan civilizations, and we can thank the Roman army for introducing the rootstocks and winemaking throughout Europe as they created an expanding Roman Empire. Centuries later the role of wine for sacramental use in Christian Churches helped to maintain the industry after the fall of the Roman Empire. Today, Grapeseeds are known as an important source of nature's most potent antioxidants, tannin compounds also called proanthocyanidins (also called OPCs for oligomeric procyanidins or PCOs for procyanidolic oligomers). They are classified as flavonols, and the way in which these versatile healing compounds are distinct from flavonoids is their simple chemical structure, which allows them to be readily absorbed into the bloodstream. They work actively against fat-soluble and water-soluble oxidants, thus protecting the cells from damage. OPCs may also be derived from Pine Bark and are present in Red Wine Extract, Hops, various flowers, fruits, berries, nuts and beans, but Grapeseed is believed to be the richest source of these important nutrients. Grapeseed is also rich in phenolic and polyphenolic compounds (including catechin and the all-important Resveratrol, etc.),
that combat platelet aggregation (clotting) in the blood. Other constituents include proteins (leucine, arginine, cystine, phenylalanine, valine), tannins, lipids (palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic acids), sitosterol, phosphatidylserine, lecithin, beta-carotene, vitamin E compounds and bioflavonoids (apigenin, quercetin) that exert vitamin-C-like effects. These constituents strengthen the cell membranes and are free-radical scavengers that protect the cells from oxidative damage and serious disease.
With regard to good coronary health, Grapeseed has become a popular supplement for preventing heart disease and arteriosclerosis. Numerous studies now say that the level of antioxidants may be a more significant factor than cholesterol levels in determining the risk of developing heart disease. The powerful antioxidants in Grapeseed, including Resveratrol, are said to help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol that ultimately leads to the process of arteriosclerosis, and the high flavonoid content in Grapeseed appears capable of significantly reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Grapeseed is said to help reduce platelet aggregation (clotting) in the blood, thereby also reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis, stroke and heart attacks. Moreover, it appears to raise the levels of high-density lipoproteins (increase HDLs or "good" cholesterol) in the blood, while lowering the low-density lipoproteins (decrease LDLs or "bad" cholesterol) and thereby help to prevent heart attacks and strokes. The HDL is said to help clear the "bad" cholesterol from the arterial walls and help eliminate it from the body. This action also helps to promote better circulation of blood throughout the body, especially to the heart. Resveratrol increases nitric oxide levels, which helps to relax and dilate artery walls, thus also helping to maintain good blood flow and improved circulation.
For good vascular health, Grapeseed is considered the best herbal supplement that will maintain the health of capillaries, through which the blood delivers nutrients to individual cells and carries away waste products.
With regard to both cardiac and vascular health, 2012, research conducted by scientists from the University of Connecticut and Spain's University of Antioquia indicated that a standardized extract of polyphenols from Grape may improve blood vessel relaxation, blood pressure and overall vascular health in men with metabolic syndrome.
The resveratrol in Grapeseed is also said to improve peripheral blood circulation, resulting in less pain and swelling in arms, ankles and legs and fewer nighttime cramps. Use of Grapeseed is thought to relieve numbness and tingling, as well as varicose veins. When the walls of small blood vessels weaken, the fluids they transport leak out, causing swelling, and OPCs strengthen capillary walls by blocking the degradation of the two proteins that give them strength and elasticity, collagen and elastin. This action stops edema and swelling.
Grapeseed is believed to significantly improve circulation, which benefits both cardiac and cerebral function. Because resveratrol increases nitric oxide levels, it relaxes artery walls, allowing blood to flow more freely to the heart and the brain. The body naturally produces nitric oxide from a common dietary amino acid, L-arginine, but if levels are insufficient, resveratrol is said to boost nitric oxide levels and thus dilate artery walls to promote better blood circulation and blood flow to the brain. Furthermore, because OPCs are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, they can protect the brain and spinal nerves against free radical damage. Recent studies indicate that Grapeseed's compounds (OPCs) may also be helpful in inhibiting Alzheimer's disease and dementia and possibly improving cognitive and brain function (particularly in women). Recent (2008) research from UCLA and Mt. Sinai Schools of Medicine have indicated that Resveratrol can be protective in cases of Alzheimer's disease. In animal models, the neurology team studied beta amyloid, the proteins that build up in Alzheimer's affected brains, and found that the polyphenols (resveratrol) from Red Wine Grapes-Grapeseed extract blocked precursor proteins from sticking together to form the toxic beta amyloid protein, as well decreased the ability of the beta amyloid protein to damage neurons. This worked when treating the neurons prior to toxic damage and suggested that administration of the compound to Alzheimer's patients might block the development of these toxic aggregates, prevent disease development and also ameliorate existing Alzheimer's disease. Pursuant to this, researchers at the University of Missouri have shown that resveratrol reduces oxidative stress in nerve cells and may protect against age-related nerve changes.
As one of the finest antioxidants found in nature, Grapeseed supports the immune system and works to combat free radical damage to cells and tissue and defend the body against serious malignant disease and infection. This herbal supplement contains the all-important Resveratrol and is an important source of nature's most potent antioxidants, tannin compounds called proanthocyanidins (also called OPCs for oligomeric procyanidins or PCOs for procyanidolic oligomers), which provide a high degree of antioxidant capacity to combat and reduce free radical damage in the body. These compounds allow the body's cells to absorb vitamin C, which is helpful in protecting cells from the free radicals that can bind to and destroy cellular compounds. Such qualities are believed to be helpful in building the immune system and fighting invasive material and other infections. They are classified as flavonols, and the way in which these versatile healing compounds are distinct from flavonoids is their simple chemical structure, which allows them to be readily absorbed into the bloodstream. They work actively against fat-soluble and water-soluble oxidants, thus protecting the cells from damage. OPCs may also be derived from Pine Bark (the original source) and are present in Red Wine extract, Pomegranate, Hops, various flowers, fruits, berries, nuts and beans. Clinical tests suggest that OPCs may be as much as fifty times more potent than vitamin E and twenty times more potent than vitamin C in terms of bioavailabile antioxidant activity. Studies have shown that Grapeseed extract not only enhances the development of normal cells, but may also inhibit abnormal cell growth.
Furthermore, Grapeseed tannins may even stimulate cell renewal by interfering with mucosal proteins.
In a study from the University of Kentucky Graduate Center for Toxicology and published in the January, 2009, issue of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, scientists found that Grapeseed extract stimulated leukemia cells to commit suicide, a process called cell apoptosis. A number of studies have already revealed that eating fruit and vegetables helps to prevent cancer, and previous research has shown Grapeseed extract has an effect on skin, breast, bowel, lung, stomach and prostate cancer cells, which is llikely due to the presence of a class of polyphenols, proanthocyanidins, a family of antioxidant compounds. Grapeseed contains a number of antioxidants, including resveratrol, which is known to have anti-cancer properties, as well as positive effect on the heart. In lab experiments, within twenty-four hours, 76% of leukemia cells exposed to the extract were killed off, while healthy cells were unharmed. The University of Kentucky study is the first to test Grapeseed's impact on a blood cancer, and these results could have implications for the incorporation of agents such as Grapeseed Extract into prevention or treatment of hematological (blood) malignancies and possibly other cancers.
In 2009, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School showed that increased intake of the flavonoid apigenin, found in Red Wine (and parsley, celery and cooked or processed tomato), may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by twenty percent in a large, population-based study. The mechanism included an inhibitory effect on endogenous estrogen activity or a reduction on circulating estrogen levels via competition for estrogen receptors or suppression of estrogen biosynthesis.
According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, the resveratrol content and a class of enzymes known as sirtuins in Red Wine Grapes have been shown to enhance cell survival during times of stress, delay cell death and extend life. It may be a way to boost the principal "anti-ageing" enzyme in living cells. The researchers claim that resveratrol, which has already been credited with Red Wine and Grapeseed Extract's ability to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, may be the most potent anti-ageing booster ever discovered. In addition, echoing the above research, researchers have demonstrated that resveratrol reduces oxidative stress in nerve cells and may protect against age-related nerve changes.
Macular degeneration may be slowed by the use of Grapeseed, and it may also reduce myopia and improve vision that is stressed by computer screens or glare.
Grapeseed's OPCs are said to promote tissue regeneration, strengthen and repair connective tissue, enhance collagen production, revitalize ageing skin and promote tissue elasticity, all of which also helps to reduce the tendency to bruise easily and increases the healing of injuries.
Test tube research has shown that the polyphenols in Grapeseed inhibit the growth of the Streptococcus mutans bacteria that causes tooth decay. Other research has indicated that the Resveratrol content in Grapeseed Extract may be more effective in combatting three strains of bacteria that cause diarrhea than several over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicines.
Grapeseed is said to reduce histamine production, thus moderating allergic and inflammatory responses, and this action has helped many allergy sufferers.
Recent research at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus by professor Sidhartha D. Ray of the University’s Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Science indicates that Grapeseed may protect the liver from damage caused by toxic doses of acetaminophen (a non-prescription pain reliever).
Do not take Grapeseed Herbal Supplement if you have anemia or if you are taking blood-thinning medication (aspirin, Coumadin, etc.). Since the tannin content of Grapeseed is high, it may counter the effects of iron supplements and should be taken at a different time.