With high levels of oligomeric proanthocyanidin, which is 50 times more potent than vitamin E and 20 times more potent than vitamin C, grape seed extract is an antioxidant and free-radical scavenger par excellence.
In the past several years, extracts of the seeds of wine grapes (Vitus vinifera) have become very popular in various dietary supplements.
Look for grapeseed extracts alone, or in combination with other ingredients in antioxidant, skin, venous support, or eye products. Trade names such as Activin® and Vinox® have popularized these extracts.
Best known for its antioxidant properties, some assays show grapeseed extract to be several times "better" than vitamin C or E in this respect. The active component is thought to be the molecules referred to as PCOs (procyanidolic oligomers), or OPCs from the original French description of these molecules. The actions of PCOs include decreasing capillary permeability (vitamin "P"), inhibiting the breakdown of collagen, and free radical scavenging.
Grape seed extract is rapidly absorbed and distributed throughout the body, even across the blood-brain barrier. It has also shown to have anti-inflammatory and antimutagenic (anti-cancer) properties.
Flavonoids, and in particular the proanthocyanidins (grape seed and pine bark extracts) should also be excellent candidates as Parkinson's disease preventers and retarders. Proanthocyanidins are water-soluble antioxidants that are stronger than vitamin C and which readily cross into the brain fluid. Clinical trials are, however, still required to support this hypothesis.
One month of treatment reduced total and LDL-cholesterol levels, but had no effect on HDL-cholesterol levels, in a study of 40 patients with diagnosed chronic venous insufficiency. [Phytother Res 2002;16(2): pp.1-5]
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