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Grape Seed Extract

Overview

The seeds and skin of red grapes are chock full of potent antioxidant flavonoids and phytochemicals that may rival vitamin C and vitamin E in their ability to help the body heal itself and fight off infection and aging.  The most potent of these, proanthocyanidins, are believed to be the key compound that gives red wine its antioxidant effect.

Proanthocyanidins help improve circulation, which can lead to improvement in such diverse disorders as macular degeneration, diabetic neuropathy, cataracts, varicose veins and thrombosis, and even impotence.  Proanthocyanidins also seem to help suppress the production of prostglandins, which can be helpful in treating chronic pain and in promoting healing.

 

These benefits are not news to practitioners of herbal medicine. Wine has been touted as a healing elixir for thousands of years, though it’s only recently that scientists have come to agree that moderate consumption of wine has beneficial effects on the heart and cholesterol levels.  Grape leaves and vines have been used in traditional healing to help stop bleeding and inflammation, and grapes themselves were used to help soothe sore throats, relieve constipation and alleviate the symptoms of many skin conditions.

 

What Grape Seed Extract Does:

Grape seed extract contains a number of chemical compounds that work at a cellular level to help promote healing in the body.  These include proanthocyanadins, which work as antioxidants and scavenge free radicals in the bloodstream.  Grape seed extract also is a highly concentrated source of Vitamin E, linoleic acid and the astringent tannins, which seems to promote healthy digestive functioning.  In addition, there is some evidence that grape seed extract helps skin wounds heal faster, and encourages stronger capillary growth.

 

Health Benefits of Grape Seed Extract:

Grapes have historically been used to treat a wide variety of ills. Most recently, scientists have turned their attention to the flavonoids and procyanidins in grape seeds and skins.  Among the most recent research are studies undertaken at universities around the country to measure the healing, anti-cholesterol and other health and nutritional uses of grape seed extract.

 

Promotes healing of wounds

In two related studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that wounds treated with grape seed extract showed considerably better and faster healing than those allowed to heal with no intervention.  Specifically, according to one of the researchers, the skin treated with grape seed extract contained more tenascin, a protein that is used to build connective tissues in skin.  The scar tissue was denser and contained more capillaries in the skin treated with grape seed extract, which, said researchers, is a sign of healthier healing.

 

May lower levels of LDL cholesterol

In a study undertaken at Georgetown University Medical Center, researchers gave 40 participants supplements of grape seed extract and chromium.  At the end of the study, researchers found significant decreases in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in the blood.

 

May help prevent certain cancers.

A study reported in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported that grape seed extract in combination with a diet that derived most of its protein from soy and other vegetable sources showed cancer preventive properties.  More specifically, rats who received grape seed extract with a high-soy-protein diet showed a 50% reduction in tumor multiplicity.  The researchers suggested the possibility of grape seed extract working synergistically with soy isoflavones.

 

Stimulates the immune system

A paper published by the American Society for Microbiology in 2002 stated that grape seed extract had increased the production of interferon, a glycoprotein produced by the body in response to viral or bacterial infection.  Interferon suppresses infection by preventing the replication of infected cells.

 

Reduces high blood pressure

In at least one study, grape seed extract reduced the blood pressure of healthy mice. Further studies are being done to see if grape seed extract has the same effect on humans.

 

Possible Side Effects of Grape Seed Extract:

At recommended dosages, grape seed extract shows no harmful side effects. It is suggested that pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid taking supplements with grape seed extract as a precaution.

 

Summary

With thousands of years of historic tradition and recent laboratory research behind it, grape seed extract shows a lot of promise in keeping your immune system healthy and your cholesterol low.  One of the most interesting things to note is the fact that more than one study has found merit in the idea of grape seed extract working synergistically with other nutrients.  It’s especially notable in light of the fact that it seems to work synergistically with vegetable proteins – but not with animal proteins.  It may explain the so-called ‘French Paradox’ and healthy profiles of those Mediterraneans who eat diets high in fat, but still have healthy hearts.

 

Regardless, it fits our own belief that no single supplement is a cure-all for anything. Health depends on a diet that provides all the nutrients your body needs, in the right amounts.  Because so many different nutrients work best in combination with others, we feel that it’s best to take a high quality health supplement that offers a full spectrum of benefits from many nutrients. Our own preference is Xtend-Life's natural products Total Balance Unisex, a carefully formulated supplement that is designed to work synergistically – not only within itself but with other nutritional supplements and with the food that you eat each day.  Because Xtend-Life takes its commitment to health seriously, they employ their own research department to ensure that all of their products work as they say.  The GMP seal on the label proves that they also have a commitment to producing all of their products to exacting standards, so we know that we’re getting exactly what the label says.

 

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