Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is made from the small seeds of the grape. It is sometimes obtained from the skins as well. Grape seed extract is extremely high in proanthocyanidins, and it is this constituent that is attributed to the majority of grape seed’s remedial powers. Proanthocyanidins are considered to be very potent antioxidants; formed from a larger group of molecules known as flavonoids, or bioflavonoids. 
Proanthocyanidin flavonoids are thought to be one of the most beneficial of all known antioxidants. It has been suggested that these compounds are more effective at quenching free radicals than their vitamin and mineral-based counterparts; including Vitamin C and Vitamin E, and the carotenoid, beta-carotene. 
The high antioxidant activity of grape seed extract allows it to be a useful therapy for heart disease, eye conditions, cancer, and inflammatory conditions; as well as a protective molecule against the development of chronic disease and other unfavorable health conditions.
The extract is derived from the seeds and skins of grapes through various methods. For example, during the manufacturing of grape juice and wine, the processing of grapes allows for concentrations of the active constituents to be accquired.
Grape Seed Extract Uses
Grape seed extract is most known for its cardioprotective action. Although reports differ, the constituents of grape seed are thought to have a tremendous value to the cardiovascular system and may protect against the development of several conditions. Grape seed extract has been deemed successful in treatment of other existing diseases and conditions as well.
- Grape seed extract is a potent antioxidant, even harnessing the ability to prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL).  By decreasing levels of LDLs, grape seed extract may positively affect cholesterol levels. Oxidation of LDLs is a primary risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is important as atherosclerosis can result in heart attack, stroke, and numerous other conditions related to decreases in blood flow.
- Grape seed extract supplementation is considered helpful after a heart attack. It can improve the overall function of the heart, as well as decrease the size of an infarct (dead heart tissue) after a heart attack. 
- Grape seed extract can be used in cases of abnormal heart rhythm. It has been found particularly helpful for ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia, or when the heart is producing too many impulses to contract.  These can be very serious conditions, and treatment protocols should be under the supervision of a licensed health care provider.
- Grape seed extract is a potent antioxidant and may protect the heart against damage caused by free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS). These ROS damage both heart muscle and valves, which can result in decreased functioning of the heart. 
- Grape seed extract can also be used to protect the heart from damage attributed to certain chemotherapy drugs, namely Doxorubicin.  Doxorubicin damages heart muscle and makes its overall functioning far less effective. Grape seed extract may decrease the damage to heart muscle caused by such drugs.
- Grape seed extract may prove equally beneficial for individuals with systemic sclerosis.  Systemic sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the collagen in human bodies. It can affect the skin, lungs, digestive tract, eyes, and blood vessels. Grape seed extract has been proven to reduce the inflammatory processes that are involved in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis. Its antioxidant action is thought to be the primary method of action.
Additionally, topical applications of grape seed extract can be used to speed the healing of wounds.  It is believed to assist in the important first steps of healing; including contracture (tightening) and closure of the wound (new skin cells). It also helps to decrease the amount of scar tissue that often forms around incisions, and may increase the strength of the scar.
More recently, grape seed extract has been studied for is potential benefit concerning cancer. In the past, this antioxidant has shown effectiveness against breast and prostate cancers. [6, 7] Its antioxidant capabilities allow it to prevent the overgrowth of mutated cells; a characteristic indicative of cancer. Grape seed extract has exhibited anti-proliferative, anti-angiogenic (no new blood vessel formation), and pro-apoptotic (encourages cell death) effects upon cancer cells in study. 
Grape seed extract is a beneficial treatment and preventative choice for conditions of the eyes, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and night blindedness. The high content of proanthocyanidins in grape seed extract are specifically indicated as an antioxidant for the eye, in particular, the retina. Grape seed extract is able to quench free radicals that normally damage the eye and contribute to ocular conditions; such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and night blindedness. 
Grape seed is also indicated for conditions of the blood vessels. These include poor circulation, varicose veins, thrombophlebitis (inflammation of vein with clot formation), and edema due to leaky capillaries. Grape seed can also decrease the heaviness, edema, and pain associated with poor venous circulation. It may also provide significant reductions in leg cramps. 
The usual therapeutic dosage is 150 - 600 milligrams, twice a day. A smaller dose of 50 mg once per day is helpful for disease prevention. Most supplements will be standardized to the polyphenols or proanthocyanidins at concentrations as high as 80 - 95%.
There are no reported side effects or toxicity associated with standard dosages of Grape seed extract. In addition, there have been no reports of over dosage or drug interactions.
Pregnant and breast feeding mothers should not supplement with grape seed extract, as its safety on developing babies and infants has not been accurately assessed.
1. http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/herbaldrugs/101840.shtml Grape seed Extract. February 2005.
2. http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/herbaldrugs/101840.shtml Grape seed Extract. February 2005.
3. Bagchi D, Sen CK, Ray SD, Das DK, Bagchi M, Dreuss HG, Vinson JA. Molecular mechanism of cardioprotection by a novel grape seed proanthocyanidin extract. Mutat Res. 2003 Feb-Mar; 523-524: 87-97.
4. Kalin R et al. Activin, a grape seed derived proanthocyanidin extract reduces plasma levels of oxidative stress and adhesion molecules (ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin) in system sclerosis. Free Radic Res. 2002 Aug; 36(8): 819-825.
5. Khanna S et al. Dermal wound healing properties of redox-active grape seed proanthocyanidin. Free Radic Biol Med. 2002 Oct 15; 33(8): 1089-1096.
6. Sharma G, Tyasi AK, Singh RP, Chan DC, Agarwal R. Synergistic anticancer effects of grape seed extract and conventional cytotoxic agent doxorubicin against human breast carcinoma cells. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2004 May; 85(1): 1-12.
7.Singh RP, Tyagi AK, Dhanalakshmi S, Agarwal R, Agarwal C. Grape seed extract inhibits advance human prostate tumor growth and angiogenesis and upregulates insulin like growth factor binding protein-3. Int J Cancer. 2004 Feb 20; 108(5): 733-740.
8. Agarwal C, Singh RP, Dhanalakshmi S, Agarwal R. Anti-angiogenic efficacy of Grape seed extract in endothelial cells. Oncol Rep. 2004 Mar; 11(3): 681-685.
9. http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/herbaldrugs/101840.shtml Grape seed Extract. February 2005.
10. http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/herbaldrugs/101840.shtml Grape seed Extract. February 2005.