Little by little we come across new articles that proport to convince us that chemotherapy is a scam and doesn’t really cure. Rather, some authors say that chemo does more harm than good. Even a few leading medical institutions are beginning to hint that chemo merely causes more pain for the patient and in the near term and the long term doesn’t cure anything. This attitude has spawned greater interest in alternative therapies.
Since many of us depend on the internet for much of the information we seek, I decided to begin collecting information on one particular therapy that shows promise.
Grape seed extract (GSE) sounds like a kind of weird source for health therapy. What I am finding is that studies have been limited so they jury may still be out. Below is current posts from several well-known, respected organizations. Like anything thing else you may chose to read in the Health Matters pages of this website with the understanding that I am not a doctor or healthcare professional. I am current a 79 year-old white male who is especially grateful for this long lfe and I am willing to investigate alternative therapies to keep me alive a while longer.
A brief history of my health problems include a heart catheterization and placement of a stent in one main artery, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a toxic septic shock incident, Atrial fibrillation (Afib) and chronic kidney disease. According to my dermatologist, I have an affinity for skin cancers to include five melanomas, three basal cell carcinomas and a bunch of (more than 12) squamous cell carcinomas.
Grape Seed Extract
Grapes — along with their leaves and sap — have been traditional treatments in Europe for thousands of years. Grape seed extract is derived from the ground-up seeds of red wine grapes. Although fairly new to the U.S., grape seed extract is now used to treat a number of diseases.
Why do people take grape seed extract?
There’s strong evidence that grape seed extract is beneficial for a number of cardiovascular conditions. Grape seed extract may help with a type of poor circulation (chronic venous insufficiency) and high cholesterol. Grape seed extract also reduces swelling caused by injury and helps with eye disease related to diabetes.
Many people are interested in grape seed extract because it contains antioxidants. These are substances that protect cells from damage and may help prevent many diseases. However, it’s still too early to say whether the antioxidant properties of grape seed extract really benefit people. Researchers are studying grape seed extract to see if it might lower the risks of some cancers. For now, the evidence is not clear.
How much grape seed extract should you take?
There is no firmly established dose of grape seed extract. Doses of between 100-300 milligrams/day have been used in studies and are prescribed in some European countries. No one knows what the highest safe dose is.
Can you get grape seed extract naturally from foods?
Grape seed extract comes from grapes. There are no other food sources.
What are the risks of taking grape seed extract?
Risks. People allergic to grapes should not use grape seed extract. If you have a bleeding disorder or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before you start using grape seed extract.
Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using grape seed extract. It could interact with drugs like blood thinners, NSAID painkillers (like aspirin, Advil, and Aleve), certain heart medicines, cancer treatments, and others.
Grape Seed Extract Overview
Grapes are the fruit of a vine (Vitis vinifera). The whole fruit, skin, leaves and seed of the grape plant are used as medicine. Grape seeds are by-products of the manufacturing of wine. Be careful not to confuse grape with grapefruit, and other similar sounding medicines.
Grape is used for preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels, varicose veins,hemorrhoids, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), high blood pressure, swelling after injury or surgery, heart attack, and stroke.
Grape seed is used for diabetes complications such as nerve and eye problems, improving wound healing, preventing tooth decay, preventing cancer, an eye disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), poor night vision, liver disorders, and hay fever.
Dried grapes, raisins, or sultanas (white raisins) are used for cough.
Grape leaf is used as a food, particularly in Greek cooking.
How does it work?
Grape contains flavonoids, which can have antioxidant effects, lower the levels of low density lipoproteins (LDLs, or “bad cholesterol”), relax blood vessels, and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The antioxidants in grape might help to prevent heart disease and have other potentially beneficial effects. Red grape varieties provide more antioxidants than white or blush grape varieties.
Grape leaf might reduce inflammation and have astringent effects. In other words, grape leaf seems to be able to draw tissue together, which could help stop bleeding and diarrhea. These properties appear to be greatest in the red leaves.
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National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Common Name: grape seed extract
Latin Name: Vitis vinifera
This fact sheet provides basic information about grape seed extract—common names, what the science says, potential side effects and cautions, and resources for more information.
The leaves and fruit of the grape have been used medicinally since ancient Greece. Today, grape seed extract is used as a folk or traditional remedy for conditions related to the heart and blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor circulation; complications related to diabetes, such as nerve and eye damage; vision problems, such as macular degeneration (which can cause blindness); swelling after an injury or surgery; cancer prevention; and wound healing.
The grape seeds used to produce grape seed extract are generally obtained from wine manufacturers. Grape seed extract is available in capsule and tablet forms.
- Studies have found that some compounds in grape seed extract may be effective in relieving symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (when veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart) and reducing edema (swelling) after an injury or surgery.
- Small randomized trials have found beneficial effects of grape seed extract for diabetic retinopathy (an eye problem caused by diabetes) and for vascular fragility (weakness in small blood vessels). Larger trials are needed to confirm these findings.
- Grape seed extract contains antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals (highly reactive molecules that can damage cell function). Preliminary studies have shown some beneficial antioxidant effects; however, more research is needed.
- A study funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) found that grape seed extract did not reduce the hardening of breast tissue that can occur after radiation therapy for breast cancer.
- NCI is also funding studies to evaluate whether grape seed extract is effective in preventing breast cancer in postmenopausal women and prostate cancer.
- NCCIH is studying whether the action of grape seed extract and its components may benefit the heart or help prevent cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and other brain disorders. Another study is investigating the effects of grape seed extract on colon cancer.
- Grape seed extract is generally well tolerated when taken by mouth. It has been used safely for up to 8 weeks in clinical trials.
- Side effects that have been reported include a dry, itchy scalp; dizziness; headache; high blood pressure; hives; indigestion; and nausea.
- Interactions between grape seed extract and medicines or other supplements have not been carefully studied.
- Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
A service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.
Web site: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset.
Web site: ods.od.nih.gov
- Brooker S, Martin S, Pearson A, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised phase II trial of IH636 grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) in patients with radiation-induced breast induration. Radiotherapy and Oncology. 2006;79(1):45–51.
- Clouatre DL, Kandaswami C. Grape seed extract. In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005:309–325.
- Grape. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturaldatabase.com on June 25, 2009.
- Grape seed (Vitis vinifera, Vitis coignetiae). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturalstandard.com on June 25, 2009.
This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.
NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.
Researchers Say Grape Seed Extract Fights Cancer
Since Biblical times, moderate wine consumption has been recommended for its supposed health benefits. Some imbibers even say “Good health!” as they raise their glasses in cheery toasts before their first sips.
Now a new study, published in the medical journal Plos One, demonstrates for the first time that grape seed extract is a wonder supplement in the fight against cancer, aiding chemotherapy’s effectiveness in killing colorectal cancer cells. What’s more, it also reduces chemotherapy’s painful side effects.
The researchers say adding grape seed extract to chemotherapy is a new approach to bowel cancer treatment, enhancing chemotherapy’s cancer-beating effects and reducing intestinal damage.
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the United States. Only lung cancer is more deadly.
Grape seed extract is commonly sold at health food stores, drugstores, and supermarkets. It is also widely available on the Internet. It is usually sold as 50 mg or 100 mg capsules.
Consumers generally take a daily dosage of 150 mg to 300 mg.
Capsules rather than powder are “the preferred way to take grape seed extract because (they are) more tolerable due to (powder’s) astringent taste and unappealing brownish red color,” says Dr. Amy Cheah, a medical science researcher at the school of agriculture, food and wine at Australia’s University of Adelaide, who led the cancer study.
Rich in vitamin E, flavonoids, and a powerful nutrient called linoleic acid, grape seed extract has no side effects and is usually taken because of its “antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties and to promote cardiovascular health,” Dr. Cheah tells Newsmax Health.
The next step is further research to discover whether grape seed extract works as well with other types of cancer – and just why it has such a remarkable ability to help fight colon cancer.
“This is the first study showing that grape seed extract can enhance the potency of one of the major chemotherapy drugs in its action against colon cancer cells,” Dr. Cheah reveals.
Latest News Update
The chemotherapy medication most commonly marshaled against colorectal cancers is 5-Fluorouracil, commonly known as 5-FU and marketed in the United States under various brand names including Adrucil.
According to gastrointestinal researcher Dr. Gordon Howarth, “Grape seed extract is showing great potential as an anti-inflammatory treatment for a range of bowel diseases and now as a possible anti-cancer treatment.”
The Australian study found that grape seed extract led to a 55 percent decrease in chemotherapy-induced inflammation and a 26 percent increase in chemotherapy’s ability to kill cancer cells.
Additionally, the researchers found no side effects on healthy intestinal tissue from the use of grape seed extract in high concentrations.
The team’s conclusion, as reported in Plos One: “Grape seed extract may represent a new therapeutic option to decrease the symptoms of intestinal mucositis [inflammation and ulceration] while concurrently impacting on the viability of colon cancer cells.”
There is ongoing research to determine whether grape seed extract prevents cancer in addition to helping treat it. So far, those studies have been inconclusive.
Grape seed extract is a relatively new alternative medicine idea in the U.S., it has been used for years in Europe to treat a number of diseases.
Research has shown that it is beneficial for a number of heart conditions, including high cholesterol. The supplement has also been used to treat chronic venous insufficiency (poor circulation) and eye disease related to diabetes.
It is impossible to get the levels of beneficial flavonoids and linoleic acid in grape seed extract from drinking wine. (So don’t try!) Also, grape seed extract may interact with some blood thinners and NSAID painkillers such as aspirin, Advil, and Aleve – so check with your doctor if you take any of these medications and want to take grape seed extract.