One of the most consumed fruits in the world, grapes have been around from more than 6,000 years.
They were even used in ancient Egypt to treat asthma. Grape seed extract is made by crushing the seeds from grape plants. When ingested, it increases the levels of antioxidants in the body, which destroy free radicals. Free radicals damage DNA and are also said to be a factor in aging, heart disease, and cancer. Grape seed extract is packed with many vitamins as well as active compounds including procyanidins, flavonoids, and resveratrol.
There is a lot of debate over the exact health benefits of grape seed extract. A number of studies have been done that had positive results, but these studies were preliminary. There still needs to more research into its true effects. Many of the studies that had positive results were conducted in test tubes and on animals. There have only been a few studies on the benefits of grape seed extra on human subjects with mixed results, but many studies are ongoing. Here are some benefits of grape seed extract.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a condition where the leg veins don’t work correctly, so blood can’t return to the heard and instead pools in the legs. This causes swelling, fatigue, pain, and visible veins. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there has been multiple studies of high quality that show grape seed extract can reduce symptoms of CVI. The grape seed extract interacts with blood-thinning medications to help relieve the symptoms. 1
A symptom associated mainly with complications from surgery or injury, edema causes swelling in the body, most commonly in the legs, ankles, and feet. Common after surgery for breast cancer, one study found that breast cancer patients who took 600mg of grape seed extract for six months had less pain than those that took the placebo, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. 1 But another study by the European Society of Radiotherapy and Oncology found in 2006 that grape seed extract did not have an effect on reducing the hardening of breast tissue after radiation therapy for breast cancer.2 Other studies have show that grape seed extract can be effective in reducing edema post surgery or injury.
Reduce body weight
A number of studies have been done on animals that show positive results of grape seed extract. In April, the European Journal of Nutrition conducted a study of grape seed extract’s effect on rats. The study found grape seed extra had a positive effect on reducing body weight of the rats by limiting food intake and activating energy expenditures. 3 Another study by the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology found that grape seed extract helped improve the oxidative stress in Zucker rates that were obese. The extract had an effect on the liver. 4
Help prevent cancer
Because grape seed oil is rich with antioxidants, which destroy free radicals, many researchers believe it has a hand in preventing cancer. While there has been a number of studies done to see how grape seed oil affects preventing cancer, many of these studies have only been conducted in test tubes and on animals. Grape seed oil was found to have positive results in preventing stomach, colon, lunch, prostate and breast cancer in test tubes. The National Cancer Institute is currently funding studies to look at how grape seed extract affects patients with breast cancer, colon cancer and also Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. 5 A more conclusive decision on the benefits of grape seed oil and preventing cancer can be made once more research is done.
If any of your patients suffer from these conditions or want to try reducing their free radicals, grape seed extract supplements may provide them with a variety of benefits.
1. Ehrlich SD. Grape Seed. Last updated January 2015. Accessed April 2016.
2. Brooker S, Martin S, Pearson A, Bagchi D, Earl J, Gothard L, Hall E, Porter L, Yarnold J. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised phase II trial of IH636 grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) in patients with radiation-induced breast induration. Published April 2006. Accessed April 2016.
3. Serrano J, Casanova-Marti A, Gual A, Perez-Vendrell AM, Blay MT, Terra X, Ardevol A, Pinet M. A specific dose of grape seed-derived proanthocyanidins to inhibit body weight gain limits food intake and increases energy expenditure in rats. Published April 2, 2016. Accessed April 2016.
4. Castrillejo VM, Romero MM, Esteve M, Ardevol A, Blay M, Blade C, Arola L, Salvado MJ. Antioxidant effects of a grapeseed procyanidin extract and oleoyl-estrone in obese Zucker rats. Published Nov-Dec 2011. Accessed April 2016.
5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Grape Seed Extract. Published March 2007. Last updated January 5, 2016. Accessed April 2016.