The Herbs Section
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Grapeseed (Vitis vinifera [Latin]) contains powerful phytomedicines that provide multiple benefits to the body, including pain relief, anti-inflammatory action, and free radical protection.
Grapeseed contains flavonoids called oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs), which provide the body with 50 times more antioxidant protection than either vitamin C or vitamin E, and helps prevent and correct damage to capillaries throughout the body. Scientists first studied the medicinal benefits of OPCs discovered in pine bark, which they referred to as pycnogenol. The OPCs in grapeseed are sometimes still referred to as pycnogenol, but this is incorrect since the word pycnogenol refers exclusively OPCs in pine bark—OPCs in grapeseed have a different chemical and pharmacological action in the body.
Grapeseed helps relieve symptoms associated with free radical damage and poor circulation, including chronic venous insufficiency (CVS), varicose veins, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. OPCs in grapeseed extract (GSE) also tone the capillaries and increase blood supply to the skin, which helps to prevent the breakdown of collagen.
When applied topically, grape seed extract also acts as an alpha-hydroxy acid, and is used in many cosmetic lotions and creams designed to improve skin tone and diminish fine wrinkles.
Grapeseed contains significant amounts of resveratrol, a substance that acts as an anti-inflammatory and has demonstrated an ability to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and provide antioxidant protection; some studies have shown that reveratrol may even help slow tumor growth.
Grapeseed extract is available at some pharmacies and most health food stores. The recommended dose is 75 to 300 milligrams of grapeseed extract daily for up to 3 weeks, then a daily maintenance dose of 40 to 100 milligrams.
If you want to improve your skin’s texture, diminish wrinkles, or just put some color in your cheeks, you might try one of the many cosmetic products that use grapeseed extract (sometimes still erroneously referred to as pycnogenol in the list of active ingredients) to reverse the signs of aging. You can also get your daily dose of grapeseed from—what else?—eating grapes (not seedless, of course). The dark-skinned ones offer additional health benefits (the dark skins contain lots of flavonoids called anthocyanosides, which act as potent antioxidants in the body).
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