Grape seed extract

Function
Grape seed extract contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), which have a fascinating history. In the first half of the 16th century, French explorers were trapped by ice on the Saint Laurence River in Canada. These men were saved from scurvy by following the advice of a local Native American, and making and drinking tea from the bark of the French maritime pine. In the middle of the 20th century, a professor of the University of Bordeaux decided to investigate the story, and found that OPCs in the bark of French maritime pine can duplicate many of the functions of vitamin C. What is more, they seem to duplicate many of the functions of vitamin E as well. Later he found an even better source of OPCs in grape seed.

Uses and sources
OPCs from grape seeds appear to protect the blood vessels from both water-soluble oxidants (the function of vitamin C) and fat-soluble ones (the work of vitamin E). They stabilize the vessel walls, reduce inflammation, and support most tissues containing collagen and elastin. They are used against varicose veins, swellings as a result of injuries, surgical operations or cosmetic surgery, and as a cream for aging skin. They are also used for the prevention of cancer, heart disease, macular degeneration or the major cause of age-linked blindness, for diabetic complications such as diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy, and as a treatment for allergies, cirrhosis of the liver and impaired night vision. Natural sources of OPCs are bilberries, blueberries, black currants, cranberries, legumes, onions, parsley, red wine, and the herb hawthorn.

Caution
OPCs are generally safe, with rare side effects such as light allergic reactions or digestive discomfort. But they possess anticoagulant properties and persons on blood-thinning drugs should consult an experienced health professional. Safe dosages for young children, pregnant and lactating women, and persons with severe liver and kidney disease have not been established.