Grapes are an incredibly nutritious food with many health benefits. For thousands of years people in Europe have used grapes, grape leaves, and grape sap as natural remedies for a variety of ailments. More recently, another part of grapes has been found to offer health benefits—grape seeds. Grape seeds are rich in antioxidants, including phenolic acids, anthocyanins, flavonoids, and oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs).
What Is Grape Seed Extract?
Grape seed extract (GSE) is a derivative of grape seeds made by removing, drying, and pulverizing the bitter-tasting seeds of grapes. These seeds are very high in antioxidants and contain incredible medicinal properties that can help prevent illness and protect against oxidative stress, tissue damage, and inflammation.
What Is Grape Seed Extract Used For?
Grape seed extract has many medicinal and therapeutic uses. It is often used to treat conditions such as high cholesterol, poor circulation, nerve damage, macular degeneration and fungal infections such as Candida Albicans. Grape seed extract has also been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation, and due to its high antioxidant content, can significantly help to reduce oxidative stress caused by free radical build up.
What are the Health Benefits of Grape Seed Extract?
Grape Seed Extract Eliminates Free Radicals and Reduces Oxidative Stress
Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so easily with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation and can either be beneficial or harmful.
Essentially, oxidation is any chemical reaction that involves the moving of electrons. Specifically, it means the substance that gives away electrons is oxidized. Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that takes place in your body. However, oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. This can result in damaged cells and ultimately ill health.
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Antioxidants can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable. This causes the free radical to stabilize and become less reactive.
As oxidation is a process that is constantly occurring due to numerous chemical reactions in the body, antioxidants must also regularly work to keep free radicals in balance. When there is an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity it leads to oxidative stress. Grape seed extract is very high in antioxidants, and can help tremendously in protecting the body from harmful free radicals and reducing the damage caused by oxidative stress.
Grape Seed Extract May Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response of the body, and an essential function of the body’s immune system. It helps your body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage. However, when the body is inflamed for long periods of time as a result of negative dietary, lifestyle, or environmental factors, it can lead to chronic inflammation which has a number of negative health effects and can lead to serious, even fatal diseases.
Grapes as a whole contain numerous compounds that help to lower inflammation. Grape polyphenols have been shown to decrease chronic inflammation either by modulation of inflammatory pathways or by reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels. As natural compounds, grape flavonoids and proanthocyanidins can target multiple pathways to overcome chronic inflammation, and thus are more effective compared to synthetic mono-targeted anti-inflammatory drugs. Studies demonstrate that proanthocyanidins in grape seeds have high anti-inflammatory action because they scavenge free radicals, prevent lipid peroxidation and inhibit formation of pro-inflammatory molecules. Proanthocyanidins extracted from grape seeds have also been found to have an immune-modulatory role in inflammatory conditions that exert an overproduction of nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2, a potent inflammatory mediator.
Grape Seed Extract May Improve Kidney Function
Oxidative damage causes stress to the entire body, but the kidneys are particularly susceptible to oxidative damage, and often this damage is irreversible. Animal studies have shown that grape seed extract may reduce kidney damage and improve function by reducing oxidative stress and inflammatory damage.
In one study, people diagnosed with chronic kidney issues were given 2 grams of grape seed extract daily for 6 months and then compared with a placebo group. Urinary protein decreased by 3% and kidney filtration improved by 9%. This means that the kidneys of those in the test group were much better able to filter urine than the kidneys of those in the placebo group.
Grape Seed Extract May Protect Your Liver
Your liver is your body’s primary filtration system, converting toxins into waste products, cleansing your blood, and metabolizing nutrients and medications to provide the body with some of its most important proteins. Your liver works tirelessly to keep you healthy, performing over 500 tasks to support your body’s well-being.
One of the most important roles of the liver is to detoxify the blood to get rid of harmful substances. These harmful substances are most commonly due to lifestyle factors such as alcohol, tobacco, beauty products and processed and fried foods, especially when consumed in large quantities. Other taxing chemicals are harder to avoid, like pollution, prescribed drugs, viruses and natural by-products of metabolism.
Unfortunately, due to poor diet and lifestyle factors, and a constant exposure to environmental toxins, the average person suffers from reduced liver function. The side effects of this can be extensive and can include high blood pressure/high cholesterol, low energy, poor metabolism, and excess weight gain among other ailments. Virtually everything your body digests has to be filtered and passed through the liver, so supporting the detoxification and health of this organ is crucial to vitality and long-term health.
Studies show that grape seed extract may have a protective effect on your liver. When the liver has sustained damage, levels of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT) rise and indicate the presence of liver toxicity. In one study, 15 people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and resulting high ALT levels were given grape seed extract for 3 months. Liver enzymes were monitored monthly, and results were compared with taking 2 grams of vitamin C per day. After 3 months, the grape seed extract group experienced a 46% reduction in ALT, while the vitamin C group showed little change.
Other test-tube studies have shown that grape seed extract may reduce inflammation, recycle antioxidants, and protective against free radical damage during toxin exposure. Being such a fundamental part of the body’s overall regulation, it is essential to keep your liver healthy and grape seed extract may be a great way to support your liver health.
Grape Seed Extract May Improve Circulation
Some studies suggest that grape seed extract may improve circulation. In one study, 8 healthy young women assessed the effects of a single 400-mg dose of proanthocyanidin from grape seed extract immediately followed by 6 hours of sitting. It was shown to reduce leg swelling and edema by 70%, compared with not taking grape seed extract.
Other studies on grape seed extract suggest that it may help with a type of poor circulation called chronic venous insufficiency, a condition that occurs when the venous wall and/or valves in the leg veins are not working effectively, making it difficult for blood to return to the heart from the legs.
Grape Seed Extract May Benefit Cardiovascular Health
The antioxidants in grape seed extract can potentially protect the blood vessels from becoming damaged, which may prevent high blood pressure. In one study, 29 adults with high blood pressure found that taking 300 mg of grape seed extract daily lowered systolic blood pressure by 5.6% and diastolic blood pressure by 4.7% (the top and bottom number) after 6 weeks. A review of 16 studies in 810 people with high blood pressure or an elevated risk of it found that taking 100–2,000 mg of grape seed extract daily significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Those under the age of 50 with obesity or a metabolic disorder showed the greatest improvements.
Grape Seed Extract May Improve Collagen Health and Bone Strength
Grape see extract is naturally high in flavonoids, a group of plant metabolites that offer many health benefits through cell signaling pathways and antioxidant effects. Increased flavonoid consumption has been linked improved collagen synthesis and bone formation. As grape seed extract is a rich source of flavonoids, it may help increase your bone density and strength.
Animal studies have found that adding GSE to either a low calcium, standard, or high calcium diet can increase bone density, mineral content, and bone strength. Animal studies have also shown that GSE may suppress bone destruction in inflammatory autoimmune arthritis. A study on osteoarthritic mice showed that grape seed extract significantly reduced pain, bony spurs, and joint damage, improving collagen levels and reducing cartilage loss.
According to a study published in the Journal of Musculoskeletal & Neuronal Interactions, “including grape seed extract in your diet with calcium has a beneficial effect on bone formation and bone strength for the treatment of bone debility caused by a low level of calcium.”
Grape Seed Extract May Support Cognitive Health
Flavanoids have many impressive health benefits. Their combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can greatly support the body’s wellness and are thought to improve brain health by delaying or reducing the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
One of the active compounds in grape seed extract is gallic acid, which animal and lab studies have shown can inhibit the formation of fibrils by beta-amyloid peptides, which are characteristic of neurodegenerative diseases.
Animal studies have also found that grape seed extract may prevent memory loss, improve cognitive status and brain antioxidant levels, and reduce brain lesions and amyloid clusters.
Grape seed extract is also very high in proanthocyanidins which some believe could prevent cognitive decline. One study identified “a critical role for grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) as a neuroprotectant in the hippocampus and in preventing cognitive loss with aging.”
Grape Seed Extract May Reduce Nerve Pain
Nerve pain, also called neuralgia or neuropathic pain, occurs when a health condition affects the nerves that carry sensation to the brain. It is a particular type of pain that feels different from other kinds of pain and people that suffer from nerve pain feel it in different ways. For some, it's a stabbing pain in the middle of the night. For others, symptoms can include a chronic prickling, tingling, or burning that they feel all day.
Studies suggest that grape seed extract may play a beneficial role in reducing nerve pain. Flavonoids, which are common in grape seed, have potential on pain due to their permeability characteristic in the capillary microcirculation system and in lowering blood pressure. The main flavonoids of grape seed involve proanthocyanidins which might be an effective agent in the cure of neuropathic pain. Within the last 10 years, research in animals suggests that the proanthocyanidins found in grape seeds can measurably improve the speed of motor nerve conduction, reduce pain, and help maintain the integrity of the myelin sheath that protects nerves.
Grape Seed Extract May Kill Candida & Inhibit Infectious Growth
Grape seed extract displays promising antibacterial and antifungal properties, and may be an effective supplement for supporting the elimination of Candida overgrowth (candidiasis).
Candida are a type of yeast, or single-celled fungus, that are a natural part of your body’s microbiome (the community of microorganisms that live in our bodies and on our skin). Normally, Candida live in the gut, mouth, throat, vagina, and on the skin and cause no issues. However, if Candida populations grow out of control, or enter places deep in the body, they can lead to an infection that can cause numerous health issues
Typically, the beneficial bacteria in our gut keep Candida populations under control. If these bacteria are killed, however, due to dietary and lifestyle factors like excessive alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, eating too much sugar and refined grains, taking antibiotics, having high levels of stress, not getting enough sleep, not eating a diverse enough diet, not eating enough prebiotic foods, or lack of physical activity, it can reduce our body’s defenses against Candida yeast and their populations can grow out of control, leading to various health issues.
Grape seed extract is widely used in traditional medicine as a remedy for candida. In one study, mice with vaginal candidiasis were given an intravaginal grape seed extract solution every 2 days for 8 days. The infection was inhibited after 5 days and gone after 8.
Due to the powerful antifungal properties of grape seed extract, we have included it as a primary ingredient in our Candida Cleanse Tonic, a formula that contains carefully selected herbs with specific compounds that support the cleansing of candida fungus and other fungal organisms.
Studies have shown that grape seed extract also inhibits the growth of common foodborne bacteria, including Campylobacter and E. coli, both of which are often responsible for severe food poisoning and abdominal upset. In lab studies, grape seed extract has been found to inhibit 43 strains of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Grape Seed Extract May Enhance Wound Healing
Several studies have shown that grape seed extract can also aid in wound healing. In one 8-week study in 110 healthy young men, a 2% grape seed extract cream improved skin appearance, elasticity, and sebum content, which has been known to help reduce the signs of aging. In another study, 35 healthy adults who had undergone minor surgery were given either a 2% grape seed extract cream or placebo. Those using the grape seed extract cream experienced full wound healing after 8 days, while the placebo group took 14 days to heal. The results show that grape seed extract was able to speed wound healing significantly, and this is believed to be most likely due to high levels of proanthocyanidins in grape seed extract triggering the release of growth factors in the skin.
A study on grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine applied proanthocyanidin extract onto wounds on the backs of mice. They found that the mice treated with this solution had quicker healing times and stated that the study “provided firm evidence to support that topical application of GSPE [Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract] represents a feasible and productive approach to support dermal wound healing.”
What Are the Active Compounds in Grape Seed Extract?
The health benefits of grape seed extract are largely attributed to the impressive active compounds it contains. There are many active compounds in grape seeds, but the most notable include flavonoids and polyphenols like gallic acid and proanthocyanidins, and stilbenes like resveratrol, all of which have are well-known to exhibit powerful antioxidant activity.
Is Grape Seed Extract Safe?
Grape seed extract is generally considered to be a safe supplement with few side effects. Dosages of around 300–800 mg per day for 8–16 weeks have been found to be safe and well tolerated. However, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid it, as there is insufficient data on the safety information for these groups.
Grape seed extract may also lower blood pressure, thin your blood, and increase blood flow, so caution is advised for those taking blood-thinning or blood pressure medications. Grape seed extract may also reduce iron absorption, as well as improve liver function and drug metabolism. As with any supplement, it is recommended to consult your healthcare provider before taking grape seed extract.
Grape seed extract is a dietary supplement made from the seeds of grapes. It is very high in antioxidants and has incredible medicinal properties that can help prevent disease and protect against oxidative stress, tissue damage, and inflammation.
Grape seed extract has many medicinal uses and health benefits, including: reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, supporting kidney and liver health, improving circulation and cardiovascular health, improving collagen synthesis and bone strength, supporting cognitive health, reducing nerve pain, enhancing wound healing, and killing candida and inhibiting infectious growth.
This powerful supplement contains potent antioxidants that are attributed to its many incredible health benefits. Among these, the most notable are flavonoids and polyphenols like gallic acid and proanthocyanidins, and stilbenes like resveratrol.
Numerous studies have been done on grape seed extract, and it appears to be safe and effective for most people. However, it is recommended for women that are pregnant or breastfeeding to avoid, as there is not enough safety information for these groups.
Like grapes, grape seeds contain many antioxidants and provide numerous health benefits. Grape seed extract is a more recent discovery of the potential medicinal value that grapes offer, but it is quickly proving itself to be a safe and effective remedy for a wide range of ailments.