If you searched online for grapeseed extract, you may already feel confused.
Not only is it also known as Vitis vinifera, GSE, OPC-3, Oligomeric Procyanidins and just plain Procyanidins; its highly sought after benefits are the subject of much debate.
Fortunately, this debate means grapeseed extract has also been targeted in scientific studies, and that’s what we’re interested in.
First, let’s take a quick look at how grapeseed extract became one of the darlings of modern complementary health…And why it’s so often mixed up with the similarly named grapefruit seed extract.
Grapeseed Extract: Where It All Started
As with so many aspects of life as we know it, we can thank and/or blame the Ancient Greeks for many of our contemporary complementary therapies.
We can pinpoint Ancient Greece for the earliest known uses of grapes for medicinal purposes. Grape seeds and leaves were applied to a variety of ailments.
And let’s face it, given the era, Ancient Greece had no shortage of ailments!
In Chinese culture, there is a widely held belief that grapeseed extract vastly improves skin quality.
In fact, it’s still so popular for youthful, healthy skin, it’s often in scarce supply in western health food stores, as enthusiasts stock up whenever possible.
These days, we’ve managed to identify the most potent component of the most beneficial grape. As a result, grapeseed extract (or GSE) is made specifically from the ground seeds of red-wine grapes.
Yet another use for red-wine grapes!
Grapeseed Extract Is NOT The Same As Grapefruit Seed Extract
This will be very short, but I feel it’s worth its own headline, given the ongoing uncertainty around this topic.
Not-so-fun-fact: High-quality grapeseed extract is often confused with grapefruit seed extract.
Grapefruit seed extract is manufactured from the seed, pulp and pith of grapefruit and is often contaminated with high levels of synthetic preservatives and disinfectants.
The applications for grapeseed extract and grapefruit seed extract are very different.
Grapefruit seed extract is used as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial and is thought to be effective in fighting infection. You’ll often see it used as a purifier, an antiseptic and a preservative.
Grapeseed extract, on the other hand, has much further reaching benefits, as you’ll see below. It’s also made from a very specific part of grapes, as mentioned above.
Because the manufacturing process of grapeseed extract is so refined and because of our diligence in sourcing high quality ingredients, only the most pure and potent form of GSE can be found in Athletic Greens.
The Benefits Of Grapeseed Extract
Now that we’re clear on the difference between grapeseed extract and grapefruit seed extract, let’s get down to the science.
Think of GSE as a defender, protecting delicate parts of your body like blood vessels, capillaries, your skin and your brain.
You’ll notice that many benefits of GSE are similar to those of other high-antioxidant herbs and foods such as berries, tea, wine, cocoa and pycnogenol, thanks to their overlapping flavonoid content.
Grapeseed extract contains remarkably high levels of a procyanidins (a member of the proanthocyanidin class of flavonoids), which are oligomeric compounds formed from catechin and epicatechin molecules.
These procyanidins have potent effects in the human body, and are largely protective in nature thanks to their antioxidant capabilities.
Grapeseed extract has been shown to protect against:
Conditions of the heart and cardiovascular system such as high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, clotting and inflammation
Diabetes and diabetic complications such as improper carbohydrate metabolism, damage to pancreatic cells, capillary damage, eye problems, sluggish circulation and cardiovascular problems
Neurodegeneration (as seen in Alzheimer’s disease)
Grapeseed extract may also help with:
Blood sugar regulation
Decreasing aromatase activity (linked to some types of cancer)
Improved liver repair in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver damage
Healthy blood flow and clotting
Skin health and varicose veins
How To Use Grapeseed Extract
As with most supplements, benefits are usually realized over time.
You might be surprised to hear that people typically generate new skin every two weeks or so.
This means your poor skin today could actually be the consequence of some mediocre diet and lifestyle choice you made two weeks ago.
In turn, that also means if you start a new regime today, you may need to wait weeks, or in some cases, months, to experience the benefits. Perseverance is key.
How To Enhance The Benefits Of Grapeseed Extract
Grapeseeds aren’t exactly the kind of thing you want to munch on for a snack.
And even if you did somehow like the taste and consistency (really?), your digestive system will have a hard time breaking these down due to the protective outer layer of the seed.
As something not typically found in the standard diet, the only reliable way to get the benefits of grapeseed extract, is via supplementation.
But there are things you can do to maximise the results.
Grapeseed extract works in synergy with a number of other compounds found in Athletic Greens.
In combination with vitamin C and zinc, grapeseed extract promotes better collagen formation, which contributes to wound healing and better skin.
It may also work well with citrus bioflavonoids to suppress and prevent allergies, and with alpha lipoic acid to help repair the damage caused by diabetes.
With so many indications of potential benefits, it’s easy to see why grapeseed extract is so widely discussed and studied.
And why some cultures have sworn by it for centuries.
Grapeseed Extract Dosage
For heart health, a dosage range of 150-300mg daily of grapeseed extract is generally recommended.
While doses up to 600mg have been used in various studies with no reported side effects, it’s a good idea to start low and monitor your own sensitivity.
As with any supplement, it’s always best to speak to your doctor before starting out.
Grapeseed extract may interact with blood thinning medications such as Warfarin and Aspirin, so in these cases a medical opinion is even more important.
Like so many other natural remedies and supplements, grapeseed extract has not enjoyed the benefits of rigorous scientific research the way pharmaceutical drugs do.
Don’t get me started on why this is the case...
The good news is, current studies - coupled with what we know about its active constituents - suggest that grapeseed extract may play an important role in a range of conditions.
It doesn’t get much more impressive. Cardiovascular support, prevention of diabetes-related complications, improved cognitive function and protection against inflammation, to name a few.
For these reasons alone, I predict we’ll continue to see more research into grapeseed extract and other natural supplements like it.
The Ancient Greeks were definitely onto something, they just needed a little help refining the process.
Perhaps if they’d put as much effort into the seeds as they did the wine...