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Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Index of Herbal Medicines, Supplements and Therapies
The decision to use products containing or claiming to contain grape seed should be carefully considered.
Grape Seed (Vitis vinifera, Vitis coignetiae)
Be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and dietary supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products containing or claiming to contain grape seed. Decisions to use herbs or supplements should be carefully considered. Individuals using prescription drugs should discuss taking herbs or supplements with a pharmacist or health care professional before starting.
Scientists have studied grape seed for the following health problems:
Studies have found grape seed to be an antioxidant, which may help prevent or relieve symptoms of certain conditions, such as vision problems associated with diabetes and wound healing. The safety of long-term use of grape seed is unknown, and more studies are needed to provide definitive answers.
Studies suggest grape seed may help improve circulation, prevent atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries), lower blood pressure and improve blood cholesterol levels. Some research shows that consumption of grape seed and grape skin in combination, such as in red wine, grape juice or a commercially available combination product, may be more beneficial than grape seed alone. Further research is needed.
Several small studies suggest that grape seed may slow the progression of retinopathy (damage to the retina caused by diabetes or high blood pressure). Further research is needed in this area.
Swelling after surgery or after an injury
Some studies suggest that taking grape seed may decrease swelling that occurs after surgery or after an injury. Further research is needed in this area.
A small study of healthy female volunteers suggests that Seresis, a pill containing grape seed extract in combination with other ingredients, may help to reduce the severity of a sunburn. Seresis contains carotenoids (beta-carotene and lycopene), vitamins C and E, selenium and proanthocyanidines, the proposed active ingredient in grape seed extract. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Chloasma (melasma), an acquired hypermelanosis, is often resistant to various treatments. Grape seed extract was shown to be effective in reducing the hyperpigmentation in women with chloasma in one study. The beneficial effects of grape seed extract were maximally achieved after six months, and there was no further improvement after this period. The latter grape seed extract intake for five months may prevent chloasma from becoming worse prior to the summer season. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Agitation in demented patients
One study found no support for the use grapeseed oil aromatherapy to decrease agitation in severely demented patients.
Grape seed has been studied for the treatment of pancreatitis, cancer, varicose veins, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and premenstrual syndrome. There is some evidence that a commercial form of grape seed called Activin may help reduce the inflammatory response in patients with systemic sclerosis. There are no clear answers in these areas, and more research is needed.
Grape seed has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially serious and even life-threatening. You should consult a health care professional before using grape seed for any unproven use.
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Connective tissue disorders
Degenerative diseases of the eye
Excessive weight loss
Immune system boosting
Impaired night vision
Improved insulin sensitivity
Protection against toxins (such as chemotherapeutic agents)
Respiratory tract infection prevention
Stomach and intestinal ulcers
Telangiectasia (broken capillaries showing on the skin)
Individuals allergic to grapes should not take grape seed. There are at least two published cases of allergic reaction to the active compounds found in grape seed.
Many experts consider grape seed to be safe, with few reports of side effects. The most common complaints include dry, itchy scalp; headache; dizziness and nausea. In theory, grape seed may increase the risk of bleeding. You may need to stop taking grape seed before some surgeries; discuss this with a health care professional.
Pregnancy And Breast-Feeding
Grape seed use during pregnancy and breast-feeding has not been studied and cannot be recommended.
Interactions with drugs, supplements and other herbs have not been thoroughly studied. The interactions listed below have been reported in scientific publications. If you are taking prescription drugs, speak with a health care professional or pharmacist before using herbs or dietary supplements.
Interactions With Drugs
In theory, grape seed may increase the risk of bleeding when used with anticoagulants (blood thinners) or antiplatelet drugs. Examples include warfarin (Coumadin), heparin and clopidogrel (Plavix). Some pain relievers may also increase the risk of bleeding if used with grape seed. Examples include aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve, Anaprox). Grape seed may interact with prescription drugs, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, methotrexate, allopurinol and cholesterol-lowering drugs. There is evidence that grape seed may interfere with the way the liver breaks down certain drugs such as midazolam. As a result, grape seed may cause the levels of drugs in the body to be too high, leading to serious side effects. If you are taking prescription drugs, ask a health care professional for advice before you take grape seed.
Interactions With Herbs And Dietary Supplements
In theory, grape seed may increase the risk of bleeding when also taken with other products that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Examples include Ginkgo biloba and garlic (Allium sativum). In theory, grape seed may excessively lower cholesterol levels in the blood if also taken with herbs and supplements that lower cholesterol levels, such as red yeast. Grape seed may also increase the blood levels of herbs processed by the liver, such as chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus). There is some evidence that grape seed may enhance the effectiveness of vitamin C and vitamin E.
The doses listed below are based on scientific research, publications or traditional use. Because most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly studied or monitored, safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients even within the same brand. Combination products often contain small amounts of each ingredient and may not be effective. Appropriate dosing should be discussed with a health care professional before starting therapy; always read the recommendations on a product's label. The dosing for unproven uses should be approached cautiously, because scientific information is limited in these areas.
Grape seed extract may be standardized to contain 40 percent to 80 percent proanthocyanidins or 95 percent polyphenols per dose.
Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)
Extract: A dose of 100 to 300 milligrams per day by mouth has been used.
Children (Younger Than 18)
The dosing and safety of grape seed have not been studied thoroughly in children, and it is recommended that you discuss doses with a health care professional before your child starts therapy.
Although grape seed has been suggested for many conditions, the best evidence supports its use for its antioxidant effects, for improving cardiovascular health, for retinopathy (damage to the retina caused by diabetes or high blood pressure) and for swelling that occurs after surgery or after an injury. Further research is needed in these areas before a strong recommendation can be made. Grape seed has not been proven for any other use. Pregnant or breast-feeding women should avoid grape seed. People actively bleeding, those with blood disorders and those taking blood thinners should also avoid grape seed. If you are taking prescription drugs or over-the-counter pain relievers, consult a pharmacist or health care professional before taking grape seed. Consult a health care professional immediately if you experience side effects.
The information in this monograph was prepared by the professional staff at Natural Standard, based on thorough systematic review of scientific evidence. The material was reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.
- Natural Standard: An organization that produces scientifically based reviews of complementary and alternative medicine topics www.naturalstandard.com
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): A division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dedicated to research www.nccam.gov
Selected Scientific Studies: Grape Seed
Natural Standard reviewed more than 185 articles to prepare the professional monograph from which this version was created.
Some of the more recent studies are listed below:
- Abdullaev SF, Inoiatova FKh, Inoiatov FSh. Effects of kavergal on indices of lipid peroxidation and the condition of the antioxidant system in patients with rheumatic heart disease presenting with circulatory insufficiency [Article in Ukrainian]. Lik Sprava 2002;Jul-Sep, (5-6):78-80.
- Aldini G, Carini M, Piccoli A, et al. Procyanidins from grape seeds protect endothelial cells from peroxynitrite damage and enhance endothelium-dependent relaxation in human artery: new evidences for cardio-protection. Life Sci 2003;Oct 17, 73(22):2883-2898.
- Bagchi D, Bagchi M, Stohs S, et al. Cellular protection with proanthocyanidins derived from grape seeds. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2002;May, 957:260-270.
- Bagchi D, Ray SD, Patel D, Bagchi M. Protection against drug- and chemical-induced multiorgan toxicity by a novel IH636 grape seed proanthocyanidin extract. Drugs Exp Clin Res 2001;27(1):3-15.
- Bagchi D, Bagchi M, Stohs SJ, et al. Free radicals and grape seed proanthocyanidin extract: importance in human health and disease prevention. Toxicology 2000;Aug 7, 148(2-3):187-197.
- Bagchi M, Kuszynski CA, Balmoori J, et al. Protective effects of antioxidants against smokeless tobacco-induced oxidative stress and modulation of Bcl-2 and p53 genes in human oral keratinocytes. Free Radic Res 2001;Aug, 35(2):181-194.
- Bagchi M, Balmoori J, Bagchi D, et al. Smokeless tobacco, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and antioxidants in human oral keratinocytes. Free Radic Biol Med 1999;Apr, 26(7-8):992-1000. Erratum in: Free Radic Biol Med 1999;Jun, 26(11-12):1599.
- Banerjee B, Bagchi D. Beneficial effects of a novel IH636 grape seed proanthocyanidin extract in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis. Digestion 2001;63(3):203-206.
- Bernstein CK, Deng C, Shuklah R, et al. Double blind placebo controlled (DBPC) study of grapeseed extract in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). J Allergy Clin Immunol 2001;107(2):s311.
- Das DK, Sato M, Ray PS, et al. Cardioprotection of red wine: role of polyphenolic antioxidants. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1999;25(2-3):115-120.
- Fitzpatrick DF, Bing B, Maggi DA, et al. Vasodilating procyanidins derived from grape seeds. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2002;May, 957:78-89.
- Greenblatt J. Nutritional supplements in ADHD. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1999;Oct, 38(10):1209-1211. Comment in: J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1999;Apr, 38(4):357-358.
- Greul AK, Grundmann JU, Heinrich F, et al. Photoprotection of UV-irradiated human skin: an antioxidative combination of vitamins E and C, carotenoids, selenium and proanthocyanidins. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2002;Sep-Oct, 15(5):307-315.
- Joshi SS, Kuszynski CA, Benner EJ, et al. Amelioration of the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapeutic agents by grape seed proanthocyanidin extract. Antioxid Redox Signal 1999;Winter, 1(4):563-570.
- Lis-Balchin M. Parallel placebo-controlled clinical study of a mixture of herbs sold as a remedy for cellulite. Phytother Res 1999;Nov, 13(7):627-629.
- Natella F, Belelli F, Gentili V, et al. Grape seed proanthocyanidins prevent plasma postprandial oxidative stress in humans. J Agric Food Chem 2002;Dec 18, 50(26):7720-7725.
- Nishikawa M, Ariyoshi N, Kotani A, et al. Effects of continuous ingestion of green tea or grape seed extracts on the pharmacokinetics of midazolam. Drug Metab Pharmacokinet 2004;Aug, 19(4):280-289.
- Nuttall SL, Kendall MJ, Bombardelli E, Morazzoni P. An evaluation of the antioxidant activity of a standardized grape seed extract, Leucoselect. J Clin Pharm Ther 1998;Oct, 23(5):385-389. Comment in: J Clin Pharm Ther 1998;Oct, 23(5):323-325.
- Petrassi C, Mastromarino A, Spartera C. Pycnogenol in chronic venous insufficiency. Phytomedicine 2000;7(5):383-388.
- reuss HG, Bagchi D, Bagchi M. Protective effects of a novel niacin-bound chromium complex and a grape seed proanthocyanidin extract on advancing age and various aspects of syndrome X. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2002;May, 957:250-259.
- Preuss HG, Montamarry S, Echard B, et al. Long-term effects of chromium, grape seed extract, and zinc on various metabolic parameters of rats. Mol Cell Biochem 2001;Jul, 223(1-2):95-102.
- Preuss HG, Wallerstedt D, Talpur N, et al. Effects of niacin-bound chromium and grape seed proanthocyanidin extract on the lipid profile of hypercholesterolemic subjects: a pilot study. J Med 2000;31(5-6):227-246.
- Rimm EB, Williams P, Fosher K, et al. Moderate alcohol intake and lower risk of coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of effects on lipids and haemostatic factors. BMJ 1999;319(7224):1523-1528.
- Rooprai HK, Christidou M, Pilkington GJ. The potential for strategies using micronutrients and heterocyclic drugs to treat invasive gliomas. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 2003;Aug, 145(8):683-690. Comment in: Acta Neurochir (Wien) 2003;Aug, 145(8):613-614.
- Roy S, Khanna S, Alessio HM, et al. Anti-angiogenic property of edible berries. Free Radic Res 2002;Sep, 36(9):1023-1031.
- Scalbert A, Deprez S, Mila I, et al. Proanthocyanidins and human health: systemic effects and local effects in the gut. Biofactors 2000;13(1-4):115-120.
- Shanmuganayagam D, Beahm MR, Osman HE, et al. Grape seed and grape skin extracts elicit a greater antiplatelet effect when used in combination than when used individually in dogs and humans. J Nutr 2002;Dec, 132(12):3592-3598.
- Shirataki Y, Kawase M, Saito S, et al. Selective cytotoxic activity of grape peel and seed extracts against oral tumor cell lines. Anticancer Res 2000;Jan-Feb, 20(1A):423-426.
- Snow LA, Hovanec L, Brandt J. A controlled trial of aromatherapy for agitation in nursing home patients with dementia. J Altern Complement Med 2004;Jun, 10(3):431-437.
- Spadea L, Balestrazzi E. Treatment of vascular retinopathies with Pycnogenol. Phytother Res 2001;15(3):219-223.
- Teixeira S. Bioflavonoids: proanthocyanidins and quercetin and their potential roles in treating musculoskeletal conditions. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2002;Jul, 32(7):357-363.
- Vigna GB, Costantini F, Aldini G, et al. Effect of a standardized grape seed extract on low-density lipoprotein susceptibility to oxidation in heavy smokers. Metabolism 2003;Oct, 52(10):1250-1257.
- Yamakoshi J, Sano A, Tokutake S, et al. Oral intake of proanthocyanidin-rich extract from grape seeds improves chloasma. Phytother Res 2004;Nov, 18(11):895-899.
Last updated July 01, 2005
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