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Grape Seed (Vitis Vinifera)

Grape Seed (Vitis Vinifera): Unprocessed Grape Seeds.

Traditional Use

Grapes have been valued for their nutritional and medicinal benefits for at least 6,000 years. Most medicinal benefits are attributed to grape wine, however grape leaves were traditionally used as bandages to stop bleeding, reduce inflammation and pain.

Modern Evidence

Grape seed extracts have been suggested as useful in the treatment and prevention of a wide variety of diseases and conditions.

Sound evidence supports the use of grape seed extracts in reducing inflammation, swelling and venous insufficiency, making the extract beneficial in helping reduce some rosacea symptoms.

Antioxidant Capabilities

Extracts of grape seeds are high in water-soluble antioxidants called proanthocyanidins belonging to the same family of skin-beneficial antioxidants as green tea known as polyphenolic flavonoids.

Grape seeds also contain resveratrol.

Technical Classification

Grape seed extracts are oligomers and polymers of polyhydroxy flavan-3-ol such as catechin and epicatechin.

Diverse Beneficial Effects

Grape seed extracts are believed to exhibit a wide range of biologic, pharmacologic, chemoprotective, photoprotective (effective against photoaging) and antioxidant effects which can be beneficial in rosacea treatment.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the antioxidant, free radical scavenging and anti-inflammatory effects of proanthocyanidins.

In fact, extracts of grape seeds have been shown to be even more effective at capturing free radicals than Vitamins C and E found in products such as Skinceuticals CE Ferulic.

Grape seed extract does not cause the burning, stinging and redness associated with Vitamin C, which is an alpha hydroxy acid similar to glycolic acid.

Dietary Grape Seed and UV Damage

Dietary intake of standardized grape seed extract has been shown to inhibit UV-induced skin cancer by antioxidant mechanisms.

Grape Seed in Skin Care for Rosacea

It is important to distinguish between grape seed oil (which is the oily product of pressed grape seeds and functions primarily as a superficial moisturizer) and grape seed extract (which is a water-soluble concentrate of grape seed's active constituents able to be absorbed by skin).

Concentrated grape seed extracts are believed to work by inhibiting damage to facial capillaries and the oxidation of the skin's natural oils, inhibiting the formation of peroxide and the oxidation of skin proteins, including those found in DNA.

In addition, the application of grape seed extract to skin prolongs the effectiveness of the skin's endogenous antioxidant mechanisms and reserves, such as those of Vitamin C and E, catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione.

Several European authors assert that grape seed extract's active constituents inhibit enzymes which break down skin's elastin, hyaluronic acid and collagen (elastase, hyaluronidase and collagenase respectively):

"Grapeseed extract helps to stabilise capillary walls and prevents increases in capillary permeability. Connective tissue, blood vessels and capillary walls are all supported structurally by a collagen matrix. Grapeseed extract helps to prevent destruction of collagen by promoting the reinforcement of the natural cross-linking of collagen fibres."

"Grapeseed extract also plays a role in the maintenance of elastin, another critical protein in connective tissue that supports organs, joints, blood vessels and muscle. This strengthening action on blood vessels may also help to prevent the formation of varicose veins."

Skin care products containing high concentrations of stable grape seed extract help reduce the redness, inflammation and irritation (burning, stinging and prickling) of rosacea.

It seems likely that grape seed extracts in skin care also help reduce photoaging (sun damage) when used in conjunction with sunscreens (see antioxidant sunscreens), although the extent of its effectiveness is not yet known.

Using a combination of antioxidants in skin care is more beneficial than using a single antioxidant.

Highest Concentrations

The highest concentration of standardized grape seed extract can be found in the Rosacea Anti-Inflammatory Clearing Serum — a product for nighttime use. Regular use will develop a reservoir of grape seed's active constituents in the skin.

High concentrations are also available in the SPF 50 rosacea sunscreen and Rosacea Cooling Lotion.

Grapeseed Extract for Other Conditions

There is strong evidence to support the use of grape seed extract in the treatment of a number of cardiovascular conditions.

Grape seed extracts may reduce the symptoms of poor circulation (chronic venous insufficiency) and elevated cholesterol.

Grape seed extract reduces swelling caused by injury and helps with eye disease related to diabetes.

Grape Seed (Vitis Vinifera): Grape Seed Extract Supplement.


Grape seed extract is used in the rosacea skin care products listed below.

The usual oral dose is 2400mg (2.4 grams) daily, although some supplement manufacturers recommend higher doses. No upper limit has been established.

Due to a lack of evidence, grape seed extract is not normally recommended during pregnancy, breast-feeding or childhood.

Grape Seed Supplements

The quality of grape seed supplements can vary greatly. Try to choose a product containing 75-85%+ "standardized proanthocyanidins" or 95%+ "OPC."


Grape seed supplements may thin the blood slightly and therefore could interact with other blood-thinners: aspirin, warfarin and clopidogrel.

Grape seed supplements and grape juice may reduce the effectiveness of Phenacetin.

Speak to your doctor before using a grape seed supplement in these instances.

There are no interactions for the use of grape seed extract as a part of topical skin care.

Grape Seed Extract vs. Pycnogenol

Grape Seed (Vitis Vinifera): Professor Masquelier's Anthogenol/Pycnogenol Supplement.

Professor Masquelier is a brand of supplements named after Professor Jack Masquelier (also known as Anthogenol) who is said to have been the first to isolate polyphenols in French maritime pine bark and to make the key early finding that OPCs strengthen and protect blood vessels and vascular function, however this brand actually uses grape seed extract.

Professor Masquelier's original product was Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract under various registered trademarks). The Anthogenol supplement claims superiority by excluding "higher polymers" in their grape seed extract.

This article by pharmacist John Russo, Jr. clarifies some of the confusion surrounding grape seed extract vs Pycnogenol.

Further Information

A list of clinical products containing grape seed extract and additional topics is listed below after the select references.

Blackmores Grape Seed Forte — a standardized, high-potency grape seed supplement.

Anthogenol (PDF) — The Secret of "OPCs" — an editorial feature for pharmacists about the benefits of OPCs including those from grape seed extract.

WebMD — A brief guide to grape seed extract supplements.

Paula's Choice — A brief summary of grape seed extract's benefits in skin care.

Caudalie is a brand of skin care focused on the use of ingredients containing stabilized polyphenols derived from grapes.

Select References

Bagchi D, Bagchi M, Stohs SJ, Das DK, Ray SD, Kuszynski CA, Joshi SS, Pruess HG. Free radicals and grape seed proanthocyanidin extract: importance in human health and disease prevention. Toxicology. 2000 Aug 7;148(2-3):187-97.

Nassiri-Asl M, Hosseinzadeh H. Review of the pharmacological effects of Vitis vinifera (Grape) and its bioactive compounds. Phytother Res. 2009 Jan 12.

Fitzpatrick DF, Bing B, Maggi DA, et al. Vasodilating procyanidins derived from grape seeds. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002;957:78-89.

Al-Habib A. Bactericidal effect of grape seed extract on methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). J Toxicol Sci. 2010;35(3):357-64.

Hung LM, Chen JK, Huang SS, et al. Cardioprotective effect of resveratrol, a natural antioxidant derived from grapes. Cardiovasc Res. 2000;47(3):549-555.

Kaur M, Agarwal C, Argarwal R. Anticancer and cancer chemopreventive potential of grape seed extract and other grape-based products. J Nutr. 2009;139(9):1806S-12S.

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;52(10):1250-7.

Preuss 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;957:250-9.

See all grape seed references.

Author: Peter Wilson.

Reviewed: Thursday, May 1, 2014.

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