Grape Seed Extract
For centuries, grapes have been used as a food and for the production of wine. In addition, throughout history, extracts taken from the seeds of grapes have been used for folk remedies. Scientists have studied grape seeds and determined that they are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants can prevent or slow damage to our body from the free radicals produced as a by-product from our cells using oxygen. Some researchers believe that grape seeds could be beneficial for heart health and may enhance cancer treatment. There is some scientific proof that grape seed extract may help relieve the ankle and lower leg swelling, pain, and leg fatigue associated with chronic venous insufficiency (veins in the legs are not able to pump all the blood back to the heart). One scientific study demonstrated that grape seed extract reduced the chronic pain and swelling in breast cancer patients. The results of another study showed that swelling secondary to sports injuries was less in people taking grape seed extract. Research is also presently being conducted to determine if grape seed extract may help or prevent Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders. There is some scientific evidence to support the anti-oxidants in grape seed extract promoting more youthful skin. Grape seeds may also reduce the complications of diabetes, but the evidence is not strong. More research is also needed to prove that grape seed is helpful for these uses.
Supplementing Your Diet with Grape Seed
Since the seeds of grapes are not something that is normally eaten, most people rely on supplements to get any of the potential benefits of grape seed. Supplements are available in a variety of formulations and in different dosages. At Walgreens, grape seed extract is available in both capsules you take by mouth and topical products (creams and lotions) used on the skin. When taken by mouth, grape seed may cause minor side effects, such as dizziness, nausea, itchy scalp, headache, sore throat, rash, stomach upset, and diarrhea. If you are pregnant or nursing, do not take grape seed supplements. It is not recommended for children to take grape seed extract. Talk to your doctor before taking grape seed extract if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking phenacetin (a prescription drug for pain) or blood-thinner medications like warfarin, clopidogrel or aspirin. Regardless of your medical history, talk with your doctor before using grape seed supplements of any kind. Make sure you tell your doctor all of the medications, vitamins, and other herbal supplements you are taking, before starting grape seed extract.
This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of purity, strength, or safety of the products. As a result, effects may vary. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking a supplement as supplements may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking a supplement. Consult a healthcare provider if you experience side effects.