Grape seed, or Vitis vinifera contains many health-promoting compounds, ranging from wrinkle reduction to pain relief. Grape seed extract can be applied topically or taken internally, and is the best known source of antioxidants available.
Flavonoids, specifically oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs), are present in grape seed extract, and provide extraordinary amounts of antioxidant protection. OPCs help prevent and repair capillary damage, and contains up to 50 times more protection against oxidants than vitamin E and vitamin C. These OPCs are similar to the compound pycnogenol in pine bark, and are sometimes mistakenly listed as pycnogenol in lists of ingredients.
This extract is thought to help with some circulatory disorders, such as varicose veins, diabetic retinopathy, chronic venous insufficiency, and poor circulation. It works by promoting circulation and protecting against free radical protection. Grape seed extract remains in the body for up to three days, unlike vitamin C and vitamin E, which are quickly excreted.
Resveratrol is also present in grape seed extract, acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. The resveratrol can also lower triglyceride and cholesterol level, supply antioxidant protection, and possibly slow tumor growth. Cancer researchers are continuing to experiment with the use of the extract in cancer fighting drugs.
The compounds found in grape seeds are thought to be responsible for the "French Paradox," the fact that the French generally have a much lower rate of heart disease than would be thought from their diet. Red wine, which is ubiquitous in France, contains OPCs, promoting heart health, including preventing plaque build-up in the arteries. Grape seed extract can also help prevent senility and protect nerve and brain tissue.
To reduce the appearance of wrinkles and facial lines, this extract can be applied topically. It acts like an alpha hydroxy acid, and is a common ingredient in anti-aging creams and lotions. It is said to increase skin elasticity, although this has not been proven.
Grape seed extract has very few side effects and drug interactions. Obviously, people who have an allergy to grapes should not take the extract, and it may interfere with cholesterol lowering drugs. The side effects reported include dizziness, nausea, and bleeding for those on blood thinners.
Health food stores and alternative health care providers often carry grape seed extract. The recommended dose ranges from 40 to 300 milligrams daily. As with any herbal supplement, people should check with a medical professional before taking this extract.