This “gift from the grape” is a powerful antioxidant that can actually strengthen fragile and weakened blood vessels while reversing and preventing circulatory problems. According to some research studies, grape seed extract is 20 times more powerful than vitamin C, and 50 times more powerful than vitamin E. In December 1996, a VERIS Research Summary suggested that 400 IU per day of vitamin E reduced heart attacks by 77%. As a much stronger antioxidant than vitamin E, grape seed extract seems a more powerful natural alternative for patients suffering from heart disease. Active ingredients in grape seed extract help the body to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous compounds extracted from the environment that can lead to cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses when over abundant in the body.
The active constituents in grape seed are oligomeric procyanidins or OPC. Writing in her book, Miracle Cures, nutrition journalist Jean Carper notes that the OPC in grape seed extract, “is expert at treating vascular diseases because it actually increases the structural strength of weakened blood vessels.” Carper continues that although USA research on grape seed extract is in its infancy, there are four hundred decades of sound studies and proven use in Europe, especially France, to suggest that it is highly effective. OPC has been isolated in all plants and red wine by French Chemist Dr. Jack Masquelier. The first OPC was isolated from the red skin of a peanut in 1947 by Dr. Masquelier, professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Bordeaux. In 1950, OPC derived from red peanut skins became the first vascular-protective pharmaceutical medicine. It was named Resivit and sold in France. Endotelin is another drug based on Dr. Masquelier’s OPC; this came on the market in France in the 1970’s. In 1979, Dr. Masquelier coined the name “pycnogenols” to describe the OPC’s that he’d isolated. (Pycnogenol is a Greek-based word describing OPC’s chemical aspects. The term Pycnogenol soon became a patented registered trademark of a British research company.)
Dr. Masquelier and colleagues have conducted nine studies confirming grape seed extract’s efficacy for varicose veins. Their research has also found that OPC may help reduce edema, or fluid build-up. “When the vascular walls become weakened, fluids transported inside the veins leak out, leading to swelling,” Carper explains. By nourishing capillary walls and performing other regenerative functions, grape seed extract lowered edema and swelling, which may help thwart high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and sports injuries involving swelling.
Additionally OPC has been used to treat eye problems such as age-related macular degeneration, glare and night blindness. The December 1997 issue of Reader’s Digest also asserted that grape seed extracts appear to “ease the symptoms of inflammatory diseases and relieve allergies.”
According to Carper, a double-blind study of 50 patients with varicose veins found that 150 milligrams of grape seed extract a day “worked faster and longer than a commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drug called Diosmine in reducing pain, sensations of burning and tingling and the degree of distension of the veins.” All symptoms improved within 30 days.
In another study, giving patients with widespread varicose veins just a single 150 milligram dose of grape seed extract improved the tone of their veins, as meticulously measured by a standard test.
Further studies have shown that grape seed extract succeeds in helping build up the small vasculature of the eyes. It also helps remedy the retinopathy that causes deteriorating eyesight, particularly in diabetics.