7 Reasons To Take Take Grape Seed Extract
by Dr. Dana Myatt
extract is on my list of "must take" supplements." Here's why.
Grape Seed Extract Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
Proanthocyanidin (OPC), a powerful antioxidant found in
grape seeds, grape skins, strawberries and French maritime pine bark, has
anti-inflammatory properties which have been shown to promote normal blood flow
and thus benefit the cardiovascular system. In Doctor Myatt's words, OPC's
prevent "blood sludge" that can cause strokes and heart attacks. OPC's work like
aspirin (only better and safer) to prevent abnormal blood clotting. OPC's may be
a superior answer for those who need thinner blood (like people with
arrhythmias) as a safer alternative to coumadin. OPC's are also called "pycnogenol"
when they are derived from pine bark (the grape seed extract is slightly more
potent and less expensive. You will see the terms pycnogenol, OPC's, grape seed
extract used interchangeably).
In one study, 38 cigarette smokers were divided into two
groups and received either 500 mg of aspirin or 125 mg of Pycnogenol. After
taking these doses, each subject smoked a cigarette, which is known to increase
blood platelet aggregation (blood clumping). After two hours, blood samples were
analyzed. Both groups has greatly reduced platelet aggregation, but those in the
aspirin group had increased bleeding times while those in the OPC group did not.
Other studies in smokers have also shown the anti-aggregation effect of OPC's.
In another study, 30 people were given Pycnogenol and 10
were given placebo. People in the Pycnogenol group had significant reduction in
blood pressure, capillary (small blood vessel) leakage, and blood vessel
inflammation, all risk factors for heart disease. There were no negative side
effects or adverse changes in blood chemistries from pycnogenol.
Grape Seed Extract A Boon to Diabetics
(and those who don't want to be diabetics)
Pycnogenol benefits the cardiovascular system by
decreasing inflammation and improving blood viscosity in both normal and
diabetic subjects. These effects can be especially important to diabetics. New
research shows that OPC's have even more benefits for diabetics by helping to
lower blood sugar levels and improving microcirculation.
OPC's were administered to diabetic patients. Leg
ulcers (which often result in gangrene and loss of limbs in diabetics)
healed 25-29% faster in the group taking OPC's. This is a significant benefit
for diabetic patients and could help prevent loss of limbs that often occurs in
OPC's have also been shown to help lower blood sugar
levels. Researchers looked at the effect that Pycnogenol on alpha-glucosidase,
an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates into glucose molecules. In this study,
pycnogenol was compared to acarbose, a synthetic drug (sold under the brand name
Precose) that inhibits alpha-glucosidase. Pycnogenol was found to be 190 times
more potent at inhibiting alpha-glucosidase, producing a greater delay in
glucose absorption. At higher concentrations, OPC's greatly slowed the entrance
of carbohydrates into the blood stream compared to the drug.
Another study showed that pycnogenol improved the level of microangiopathy
(small blood vessel abnormalities) decreased capillary filtration, improved
symptoms and reduced edema in 18 out of 18 diabetic patients, with no subjects
dropping out of the study due to adverse side effects. There were no
improvements seen in the control group.
OPC's have been shown in French trials to help limit the progression of
diabetic retinopathy. In one study, 60% of diabetics taking 150 mg per day of
OPCs from grape seed extract had no progression of retinopathy compared to 47%
of those taking a placebo.
Another trial including 77 subjects with type 2 diabetes, (half receiving 100
mg of Pycnogenol and half received a placebo daily), showed after 12 weeks that
subjects in the Pycnogenol group had significantly lowered their plasma glucose
levels compared to placebo. Pycnogenol subjects were also found to have improved
artery function. In another trial of 30 type 2 diabetics, researchers found that
increasing doses of pycnogenol (doses of 50, 100, 200, and 300 mg) lowered blood
sugar levels in a dose-dependent fashion. (The more grape seed extract, the
lower the blood sugar levels). Subjects who received 100 to 300 mg of Pycnogenol
had the most significant lowering of their fasting glucose levels.
Anti-Cancer Effects of Grape Seed Extract
Talc (talcum powder) increases "ovarian neoplastic transformation" (turns
cells of the female ovary into cancerous cells). A brand new study showed that
pycnogenol blocked this talc-induced cancerous change in ovarian cells. PC's
have also been shown to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in breast
cancer cells but not in normal breast tissue.
OPc's reduce four factors know to stimulate cancer cell growth: blood sugar
levels, insulin levels, free radical and inflammation. This means that OPC's may
be a potent factor not only in cancer prevention but also in cancer treatment.
(See our medical paper on
cancer diet and nutrition for cancer
for full details).
But Wait! There's More! (More Benefits of Grape Seed
If heart-protective, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer effects
aren't enough to make you consider adding grape seed extract to your supplement
regimen, here are a few more benefits of this amazing flavonoid for you to
* anti-allergenic (grape seed stabilizes
histamine release and so acts as a natural anti-histamine, without any drowsy
side-effects). Asthmatic children who took pycnogenol were able to decrease
their asthma medications.
* improves skin elasticity by increasing collagen
in the skin. For this reason, OPC's are often used in skin rejuvenation
* prevents varicose veins by strengthening blood
vessels and increasing collagen (same reason it helps improve aging skin).
* helps prevent Alzheimer's disease by blocking
the formation of beta amyloid (a protein associated with Alzheimer's).
* Reduces symptoms of endometriosis. This is JUST
IN today in Family Medicine journal, yet another study showing positive benefit.
I Don't Know About You, But...
The proven (but non-FDA-approved, blessed or verified)
effects of grape seed extract (aka pycnogenol, OPC's etc.) are just too great
for me to overlook. I personally take 100mg, 3 times per day with meals and will
continue to do so. The new research coming out on this important herb convinces
me that I've made a good decision.
Learn more about Grape Seed Extract here.