Grape Seed Extract
Jerry Hickey is a pharmacist and radio personality and fills the esteemed role of Scientific Director and President of Invite Health. He has spent his professional life analyzing nutritional information and medical studies with the aim of creating the highest quality and most natural nutraceuticals for user’s maximum health benefits.
Here, Jerry speaks about the benefits of Grape Seed Extract…
Grape Seed Extract is another one of those supplements that the FDA generally recognizes as safe. It’s safe for adults, it’s safe for kids and it’s an extremely powerful, very soluble antioxidant. It’s absorbed very well and within minutes it’s migrating to your skin, it’s going to your liver and your pancreas and your gallbladder, and it’s going to your heart and your circulatory system. It’s going to your brain and your spine. And as an antioxidant, it’s helping to restore antioxidant levels in an aging body. Antioxidant levels drop as you age. It’s just the way it is in your eyes, in your brain and your heart; it’s just a part of aging. The grape seed antioxidants are known as OPC, or oligomeric proanthocyanidins. Some people call them PC95s. They are 20 times more powerful than antioxidants in vitamin C and 50 times more powerful than vitamin E and they have a real impact on the skin. The studies are showing that they help with capillary fragility of the skin.
Capillary fragility are these little tiny blood vessels that are in the brain, that are in the kidneys, that go to your heart muscle, but they’re right by your skin. And as you get older, they get fragile. If you do a lot of walking, if you stand, if you’re heavy, if you’re a runner, if you lift weights, if you do a lot of exercise or are a woman just passing menopause, they start to become fragile and they break and they look like spider webs on the leg. That’s why they also call it spider veins. When you use Grape Seed Extract, you restore the integrity to the blood vessel walls and to the cells in the blood cells and fewer of them will break and your body’s own enzymes will break up the old ones. You’ll see the disappearance on the legs clear up.
Without it, maybe you don’t want to wear shorts because it doesn’t look nice or you don’t want to wear your bathing suit. I mean I have a lot of people that for a living are models or their competitors on stage or they’re actors and they use Grape Seed Extract to keep their skin clear. And it’s great for aging skin. They’ve shown that grape seed is so soluble that within about 15 or 20 minutes it’s already penetrating into and shielding your skin. It has a natural sun block effect. So smear on the sunscreen like you’re going to Florida for the winter or you’re going on a cruise or something, swallow it before you go outside and smear on the sunscreen and it will give you a little bit more protection against those negative effects of the sun. Nothing ages the skin and causes wrinkling and discoloration of the skin like the sun does.
But in sun damaged skin, wrinkled skin, skin with liver spots, unevenly textured skin or chapped skin, Grape Seed Extract improves the feel of the skin. The skin is smoother, more resilient, more elastic and it literally becomes like young skin. It’s not cosmetic, it’s real. It becomes thicker, more hydrated and its moisture content increases pretty dramatically. They’ve done a number of studies in all the women and it helps with wrinkles on the forehead, around the eyes, crow’s feet wrinkles, wrinkles around the mouth, on the neck, on the décolletage which is down by the bosoms. It helps with wrinkles on the arms and on the hands; that’s the grape seed working. It has an impact on wrinkles and on unsightly broken blood vessels near the skin. But because it helps the capillaries and capillary fragility it’s also good for people who tend to get nosebleeds or bleeding gums.
Now, as far as circulation, they recently did a study in Japan, a very interesting study. In Japan, a lot of women have desk jobs and they sit for many hours behind their desk and their ankle swells and their calf swells. You see the same thing happening to people who stand all day, like a waitress or a surgeon or a pharmacist. You see the same thing happening to people on long flights or long drives. You see the same thing happening during the summer months, their ankles swell. Or people who run, this is a common thing. You know, running is great for the heart and big blood vessels called arteries, but it’s really hard on the little blood vessels called veins. And they tend to cause damage to the valves in the veins and the blood doesn’t move as quickly, so you got venous stasis and you start to get puffy ankles and feet. And then you have to wear those itchy, hot support hoses. They call them a mechanical support hose and they don’t look good.
In another study that took place over the course of two weeks, women who had desk jobs and sat for hours a day used grape seed and it prevented the swelling of their ankles. The volume of their ankles and the fluid decreased dramatically. They didn’t have nighttime leg cramps, they didn’t have veins breaking; everything was improving. This is a very, very good supplement for your circulatory system and for broken veins, or if your ankle swells or you’re getting leg cramps at night when you’re trying to sleep (which is also called restless leg syndrome).
It’s also a great antioxidant for the eyes. It helps protect the little blood vessels on the back of the eyes and it helps improve night vision. It’s an excellent supplement for that. And the research up at Albert Einstein and Mount Sinai, shows that grape seed supplements penetrates the aging spine and the aging brain and helps restore antioxidant levels in those places.
We have a 250 milligram Grape Seed Extract. I take one a day in the morning. I think it’s a really good antioxidant because it’s very soluble. I know my antioxidant levels are dropping in my brain as I get older and this allows me to put them back in there. So a 250 milligrams dose of grape seed is very safe, very effective for your skin, for circulation in the legs, for swollen ankles, for leg cramps at night and night vision.
Now, the FDA recognizes grape seed extract as being safe. We have a 250 mg grape seed extract. Most of the capsules around are 30 mg or 50 mg, some of them are 100 mg. Ours is 250 mg. It’s 95 percent active constituent. You get 227 mg of the grape seed antioxidants per capsule, which is dramatic. The studies show you need 150 – 300 mg a day to work.
Grape seed excels at bolstering the health of the skin. For instance, if somebody’s going for surgery on their skin, like a face lift or for their eye lids or something, you give them grape seed and it reduces how long their face stays puffy. If somebody’s going in the sun, besides putting on sunscreen, you tell them to swallow some grape seed before they go out in the sun and it reduces the damage the sun causes to their skin. You know, there’s no such thing as a safe tan, and certainly sunburns are not safe.
It’s also great for blood vessel health and for circulation. Here’s a study that just came out from a really good journal called the Journal of Scientific Food and Agriculture. It’s women with desk jobs frequently suffer from swelling in the ankles and calves of their legs. People who sit a lot, their ankles swell. In this study, when they gave these women with desk jobs grape seed extract, it decreased the swelling of their legs and it decreased the fluid buildup in their legs.
There are a number of studies showing that grape seed is very good for circulation in the legs. When people come in who stand a lot or who are runners or lift weights or do a lot of exercise, when they start to get things like varicose veins and spider veins, grape seed extract helps them a great deal, because it improves the integrity of the blood vessel wall structure. The blood vessels just work better. They get back their elasticity and they start working again. It improves the health of the valves and the blood vessels in their legs that move the blood forward, so you don’t get that pooling of blood and that swelling of the ankles and calves anymore. Not only that, but because it makes the blood vessels stronger and more elastic and more durable, you don’t have the little capillaries bursting anymore. So you’re not creating any new spider veins and the body’s own enzymes (like the elastase and hyaluronidase) are eating up the old broken blood vessels. Over the course of three months or so, a lot of those spider veins are going to disappear. Women over the age of 50 frequently develop spider veins. A lot of men do also. It’s very common in athletes. We have a lot of athletes who come in, including runners, body builders, weight lifters and other people who compete. Even people who do bathing suit competitions or fitness competitions get spider veins from all the exercise. This will get rid of the spider veins.
I have to tell you, if you go on all the various websites like University of Maryland or the National Institute of Health, you’ll see that the grape seed is very good. This is from the University of Maryland, “Chronic venous insufficiency, blood pools in the legs, causing pain, swelling, fatigue and visible veins, a number of high quality studies have shown that grape seed reduces the symptoms.” They also said for edema, symptoms or swelling caused by surgery or an injury can be reduced by grape seed; there’s no doubt about it.
Besides helping with veins, grape seed is a great supplement for the summer. They did a study in people, exposing their arms to ultraviolet lamps, sun lamps, and of course it caused burning. If they gave them grape seed, it reduced the amount of sun damage by half. Not only that, but there have been a couple of studies now where they use grape seed in older ladies, and grape seed helped get rid of wrinkles, improved skin elasticity in addition to hydration and thickness as well. Their skin was literally becoming younger. Because it helps with wrinkling and because it minimizes sun damage, grape seed is a fantastic supplement for the summer.
Let me tell you something: I said before that there’s no such thing as a safe tan. The rays that cause a tan are ultraviolet-A radiation which penetrates deep into the skin. It’s a major cause of the most dangerous skin cancer, called melanoma. Sunburns…forget it. They cause all three skin cancers. The reddening in sunburn is actually damaging to your genes, to your genetic material, to your DNA. Think about dangerous that really is.
If you take it before you go in the sun and slather on sunscreen it helps to protect you from damaged caused by the sun. Here’s a study in people who had skin damage from the sun. They gave them lycopene. Lycopene is the tomato carotenoid, and they gave women with sun-damaged skin some grape seed to swallow as a supplement. Then they had them use a sunscreen for four months. It improved the density of their skin: how thick it was and the collagen content of their skin. Their skin was becoming younger; the hydration of their skin was making it that way. It improved the elasticity of their skin, on their face and on their arms and on their neck, and it reduced the amount of apparent damage caused by the sun, including wrinkling.
Let me tell you something: cases of skin cancer are dramatically increasing. We’re even seeing it in teenagers now. Science Daily had an article, not very long ago, reporting that they are seeing dangerous skin cancers even in young teens. There was a study from the Department of Dermatology at Kaiser Permanente, a huge, HMO-based insurance company on the West Coast. They have these very sophisticated tracking systems in their computers that they used to find that people who use grape seed extract supplements had a 74 percent reduced risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common head and neck cancer in the United States. It’s a skin cancer caused by the sun. If it grows too deep into the skin you have to use chemotherapy to treat it. You can’t just remove it with surgery anymore. About 20,000 people die from head and neck cancers in the U.S. every day. Here you have a simple, safe antioxidant that’s many time stronger than Vitamin C and Vitamin E for protecting your skin and your brain and your eyes and your blood vessel walls and your heart. It’s been shown to decrease the risk of squamous cell carcinoma by about 75 percent, which is rather dramatic.
It gets better; grape seed extract seems to really help control blood pressure, blood sugar, liver damage and calorie intake, even in very heavy people. There was a head-to-head comparison study recently that compared grape seed extract to a prescription drug called acarbose. Acarbose is also called Precose and it’s used to treat diabetes. In a lot of countries it’s used to treat pre-diabetes. It blocks sugar digesting enzymes, so that if you take the acarbose before a meal, you absorb fewer sugar calories. For diabetics, it’s easier for them to control their blood sugar. For you and me, it means we absorb less starch calories from the pasta, the bread or the potatoes. That means it will help us lose some fat and lose some weight. In this study, the grape seed strongly outperformed acarbose in starch digesting enzymes. It bound the starch digesting enzymes much stronger than acarbose and it decreased the absorption of starches. Like I said, that will help people with sugar problems or blood sugar problems to control their sugar. They’re absorbing sugar at a slower rate to a small degree, and that will help people who want to lose some fat.
Now, when they did a study in diabetic patients with grape seed extract, it was from the UK, Queen Alexandria Hospital, and within four weeks the grape seed extract was helping to control their blood sugar. This is a safe nutrient that’s a smart thing to add to your diabetes medication because it helps in so many ways. It will help protect your brain from the diabetes and your eyes and your heart and your kidneys and your skin and your blood vessels.
Here’s a study in patients with metabolic syndrome. Patients with metabolic syndrome typically have a big belly, their blood sugar is high and they may even be diabetic. They’re certainly prediabetic. Their cholesterol is high, their triglycerides are high and their blood pressure’s high. They’re developing liver disease, they’re very inflamed. It’s a very dangerous situation. It’s a condition that if you have it in your fifties, it can end you. It can finish you off, because it increases dramatically the risk of stroke and heart attack and later on it increases the risk of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Here they took people, big people with big bellies, they gave them grape seed extract. They did it at the University of California at Davis. When they did it, it reduced their blood pressure, the top figure saw a 12 point reduction, the bottom figure 9 points. That’s way beyond the amount needed to reduce your risk of a stroke or a heart attack.
By the way, it also helps protect you from salt. People with high blood pressure, they have some salt and their blood pressure goes up and it stays up for hours, which increases the risk of stroke. Grape seed blunts that salt effect. If you have high blood pressure and salt affects you- and it does affect a number of people- try that grape seed.
Heavy people, the same kind of people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, their sugar was going up. When they gave them grape seed extract, it was getting fat out of their liver and it was lowering their liver enzymes. When your liver enzymes go up, it’s a sign that your liver cells are dying. About 80 percent of people with a big belly are developing liver disease. Their liver cells are getting replaced by fat cells, which is very dangerous. When they gave heavy people the grape seed, it was getting the fat out of their liver, it was lowering their cholesterol, it was normalizing their blood pressure and their blood sugar. It’s a very smart thing to take.
Our 250 mg grape seed is made to protect your skin and your eyes. It’s good for night vision and the blood vessels on the eyes. It will protect your brain. It will help the circulation in your heart and in your legs. It’s 250 mg, once a day or one twice a day is plenty.