Both the ancient Egyptians and Greek philosophers praised the medicinal and nutritional value of grapes, often imbibed as wine, while European folk healers made an ointment from vine sap to treat skin and eye diseases.
Modern grape seed extract is derived industrially from the seeds of red grapes. You can’t gain the benefits simply by chewing on the pips, although the grapes themselves are nutritious. Grape seed extract is a powerful antioxidant that may help to alleviate health problems associated with free radical damage. It also exerts a beneficial influence on blood vessels and is useful for conditions such as varicose veins. It may also be beneficial in the treatment of certain cardiovascular conditions and eye disease related to diabetes.
How Grape Seed Extract works
In a number of studies, antioxidants known as oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs) found in grape seed extract have been shown to reduce the symptoms associated with varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency such as pain and swelling.
Grape seed extract may also help to reduce swelling following surgery or caused by an injury—making it popular with some athletes—and it might lower cholesterol. Research conducted in test tubes suggests it could prevent the growth of certain types of cancer; however, this has yet to be tested successfully on humans. It has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure in animals.
How to Use Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is derived from grapes and can be bought as capsules—often in combination with citrus flavonoids as a powder for athletes to use during training or as a liquid and used as drops. No recommended dose has been established, though manufacturers suggest one 100 mg tablet a day or, in liquid form, 3 drops twice daily in water before a meal. Follow label instructions or take as professionally prescribed.
Talk to your doctor before taking grape seed extract as it could affect the way certain medications are broken down in the liver. Common side effects include headache, sore throat, dizziness, itchy scalp, stomach-ache and nausea. It may also act as a blood thinner, so should not be used if you are taking anticoagulants or other blood-thinning medications. Nor should it be used by anyone with an allergy to grapes. Grape seed extract has not been widely tested during pregnancy or breastfeeding so is best avoided or used only under medical supervision during these periods
Where to Find Grape Seed Extract
Buy tablets, drops or powder in health food stores or from a qualified herbalist.
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