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Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract (GSE) is derived from the ground-up seeds of red wine grapes and the grape juice industries. It contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s) and other polyphenolic compounds. Grape seed extract also contains antioxidants that may help prevent many diseases. Grape seed extract comes only from grapes; there are no other food sources. It comes in tablet, pill and capsule forms and is taken for a variety of ailments, including heart problems.
If you enjoy eating grapes there is no reason to spit out the seeds as there may be some health benefits from eating them, though they taste bitter.
Doses of between 150 -300 milligrams per day have been prescribed and there are no known higher safe doses. Grape seed extract is generally considered safe although side effects may include dry itchy scalp, headache, dizziness and nausea. Researchers are studying grape seed extract for a number of illnesses and conditions, including cancers, with inconclusive results at present.
People allergic to grapes should avoid grape seed extract. If you are taking any medicines on a regular basis do consult your doctor before you start taking grape seed extract as it could interact with other drugs.  Due to lack of evidence about the safety of grape seed extract it should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women and children.
Avoid confusion: grapefruit seed extract is derived from the seeds, white membranes and pulp of Grapefruit.  It can be found in liquid and powder forms and is mostly used in antibacterial products.

Grapes Seed Extract Research

The majority of human trials with grape seed focus on antioxidant activity and usefulness in treatment of blood vessel disorders.6  Three human clinical trials showed that a grapeseed extract improved poor circulation in legs and feet.14,15,16  Another study suggests grapeseed extract can reduce post-operative swelling faster than placebo in face-lift operations.17  

Data on antioxidant chemicals in grape juice show that it has cancer-protective effects18  and may protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of free radical damage and chronic diseases.19  Grape skin antioxidant properties may be used to slow the progression of pathology in Alzheimer’s disease.20  Vitis vinifera, with other active ingredients, may be a possible new treatment option for improving signs and symptoms in adults with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis.21  

Grapes are nourishing fruits rich in antioxidants, especially the skin and seeds.1,2,9  The antioxidants may have anticancer properties and beneficial cardiac properties.1,8  Grapes, seeds, and leaves have been used in Ayurvedic (Indian) and traditional medicine as a diuretic, to soothe the digestive tract, improve circulation, control swelling and bleeding, relieve constipation and diarrhea, and cool and detoxify the body.1,2,4,5,10  Grapes are known as the “queen of fruits” because of cleansing properties.4  A “grape cure” or grape fast involves eating three to six pounds of grapes to detoxify and improve liver function.1,5  Vine leaf-based medicines are traditionally used to treat fragile blood vessels, water retention, and hemorrhoids.9  They can be used topically for eye discomfort due to irritants.5,9  Ashes of burned branches were used as a primitive form of toothpaste.11  

Grape seed extract has been used for vision and eye problems, varicose veins, circulation problems, easy bruising, and sports injuries.7  High in iron, it is said to help build blood or improve anemia.4  It has been experimentally used for heart health, diabetes, and degenerative diseases.7  In Asia, grape seed extract has been employed to treat a variety of skin conditions for centuries.12  Grape seed extract has been an ingredient in anti-aging creams for several years.12,13  

1  Bown D. The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses. London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd.; 2001.

2  van Wyk BE, Wink M. Medicinal Plants of the World. Portland, OR: Timber Press; 2004.

3  Davidson A. The Oxford Companion to Food. London: Oxford University Press; 1999.

4  Onstad D. Whole Foods Companion: A Guide for Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers & Lovers of Natural Foods. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company; 1996.

5  Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Vol. 2. New York: Dover Books; 1971.

6  DerMarderosian A, Beutler J, eds. The Review of Natural Products. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons; 2002.

7  McCaleb R, Leigh E, Morien K, eds. The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs. Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing; 2000.

8  Facciola S. Cornucopia: A Source Book of Edible Plants. Vista, CA: Kampong Publications; 1990.

9  Bruneton J, ed. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. 2nd ed. Paris: Lavoisier; 1999.

10  Kapoor L, ed. Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1990.

11  Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MPF. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Human Health. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2003.

12  Thornfeldt C. Cosmeceuticals containing herbs: fact, fiction, and future. Dermatol Surg. 2005 Jul;31(7 Pt 2):873-80; discussion 880.

13  Yamakoshi J, Saito M, Kataoka S, Kikuchi M. Safety evaluation of proanthocyanidin-rich extract from grape seeds. Food and Chemical Toxicology 2000;40: 599–607.

14  Henriet JP. Endotelon® dans les manifestations fonctionnelles de l’insuffisance veineuse peripherique: Etue EIVE. Actualite Medicales Internationales – Angiologie 1988;5(74):n.p. in The Handbook of Clinically Tested Herbal Remedies Volume 2 by Barrett M, ed. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc: 2004.

15  Delacroix P. Double-blind trial of Endotelon in chronic venous insufficiency. Revue de Medecine 1981;27/28:1793-1802 in The Handbook of Clinically Tested Herbal Remedies Volume 2 by Barrett M, ed. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc: 2004.

16  Paitel D. Rheographic and thermographic study of the effects on peripheral hemodynamics of an endotheoliotrophic, double blind versus placebo study. Vie Medicale 1981;11:776-783 in The Handbook of Clinically Tested Herbal Remedies Volume 2 by Barrett M, ed. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc: 2004.

17  Baruch J. The effects of Endotelon on postoperative edema: Results of a double-blind study vs. placebo in thirty-two patients. Annales de Chirurgie Plastique et Esthetique. 1984;29(4):393-295 in The Handbook of Clinically Tested Herbal Remedies Volume 2 by Barrett M, ed. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc: 2004.

18  Park YK, Park E, Kim JS, Kang MH. Daily grape juice consumption reduces oxidative DNA damage and plasma free radical levels in healthy Koreans. Mutat Res 2003;529:77–86.

19  O’Byrne DJ, Devaraj S, Grundy SM, Jialal I. Comparison of the antioxidant effects of Concord grape juice flavonoids and α-tocopherol on markers of oxidative stress in healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:1367–1374.

20  Russo A, Palumbo M, Aliano C, Lempereur L, Scoto G, Renis M. Red wine micronutrients as protective agents in Alzheimer-like induced insult. Life Sciences 2003;72:2369–2379.

21  Belloni G, Pinelli S, Veraldi S. A randomised, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of MAS063D (Atopiclair) in the treatment of mild to moderate atopic dermatitis. Eur J Dermatol. 2005 Jan-Feb;15(1):31-36.

22  Devi L. Market Supply Expands for Pine Bark and Grape Seed Extracts. Herb Clip. January 2, 1998 (No 120173-125). Austin, TX: American Botanical Council. Review of Pine Bark and Grape Seed Extracts Benefit from Supportive Science by Lerner M. Chemical Market Reporter, February 3, 1997;7 & 14.


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