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Overview InformationGrapes are the fruit of grapevines. Vitis vinifera and Vitis labrusca are two common grapevine species. Vitis labrusca is commonly known as Concord grapes. 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.
Extracts from grape leaves and grape seeds are most commonly used for poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell (chronic venous insufficiency or CVI). Grape products are also commonly used for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and many other conditions. But there is limited scientific evidence to support these uses.
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.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell (chronic venous insufficiency or CVI). Taking grape seed extract or proanthocyanidin, a chemical in grape seeds, by mouth seems to reduce symptoms of CVI such as tired or heavy legs, tension, and tingling and pain. Research suggests that taking a specific grape leaf extract by mouth decreases leg swelling after 6 weeks.
- Eye stress. Taking grape seed extract by mouth might help decrease stress on the eyes from glare.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Hay fever. Taking grape seed extract for 8 weeks before ragweed pollen season does not seem to decrease seasonal allergy symptoms or the need to use allergy medications.
- Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drug treatment. Taking 4 ounces of chilled Concord grape juice 30 minutes before meals for a week following each cycle of chemotherapy does not seem to reduce nausea or vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
- Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). The term LUTS is typically used to describe symptoms associated with overactive bladder. Drinking Concord grade juice doesn't seem to improve these symptoms in older men.
- Breast pain (mastalgia). Taking proanthocyanidin, a chemical found in grape seed extract, three times daily for 6 months does not reduce breast tissue hardness, pain, or tenderness in people treated with radiation therapy for breast cancer.
- Obesity. Drinking Concord grape juice or taking grape seed extract or grape pomace does not seem to reduce weight in overweight people. However, it might help to lower cholesterolcontrol blood sugar.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Aging skin. Early research shows that taking a specific combination product containing grape skin extract, marine collagen peptides, coenzyme Q10, luteolin, and selenium for 2 months might improve some markers of aging skin such as elasticity. But it doesn't seem to improve skin moisture or how the skin appears based on age.
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Early research shows that taking a specific product containing grape seed oil, garlic, hops, green tea, and antioxidants for 1 year might help prevent cholesterol plaques from forming in the arteries. But it doesn't appear to prevent the growth of plaques already present in the arteries. It also doesn't appear to improve levels of cholesterol.
- Athletic performance. Early research shows that taking 400 mg of grape extract daily for one month might increase an athlete's overall power when jumping, but not the initial power or maintaining power. Other early research shows that drinking juice prepared from whole grape powder does not improve how well the body uses oxygen or running ability.
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis). Early research shows that applying a cream containing vitamin E and chemicals found in grapes and green tea doesn't reduce symptoms of eczema.
- Heart disease. There is some early evidence that drinking grape juice or red wine might reduce risk factors linked with heart disease, such as inflammation, clot formation, and oxidative damage to blood fats. But it's not known if grape products specifically reduce heart disease risk.
- Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Early research shows that drinking Concord grape juice helps middle-aged women focus while driving. Also taking a grape fruit extract for 12 weeks seems to improve attention, language, and memory in older people without age-related memory problems. It's unclear if grape improves mental function or memory in older people with age-related memory problems.
- Decline in memory and thinking skills in older people that is more than what is normal for their age. Most early research suggests that grape does not improve mental function or memory in older people with memory problems.
- Colon cancer, rectal cancer. Taking a product containing grape seed extract and other ingredients while being treated with cancer drugs seems to help prevent colon and rectal cancer from progressing. But it doesn't seem to improve survival.
- Vision problems in people with diabetes (diabetic retinopathy). Early evidence suggests that taking a specific grape seed extract product containing 100-200 mg of a chemical called proanthocyanidin daily can slow the progression of eye damage caused by diabetes.
- High cholesterol. Taking grape seed extract alone or with chromium might reduce some measures of cholesterol in people with high cholesterol. But it doesn't seem to improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol or lower blood fats called triglycerides. And when taken with chromium, it's possible that any cholesterol improvement is due to chromium not grape seed extract.
- High blood pressure. Most research has evaluated grape seed extract or isolated chemicals from grape called polyphenols in people with high blood pressure. Single studies show conflicting results. But analyses of multiple studies suggests that grape seed extract or grape polyphenols can slightly lower blood pressure in healthy people or those with high blood pressure. They seem to work best in people who are obese or those with metabolic syndrome. It might take 8 weeks for benefits to be seen. But people with high blood pressure should lean away from taking high doses of grape seed extract with vitamin C. This combination might worsen blood pressure.
- Dark skin patches on the face (melasma). Early research suggests that taking grape seed extract by mouth for 6-11 months reduces dark skin discolorations in Japanese women.
- Symptoms of menopause. Taking grape seed extract daily for 8 weeks seems to reduce hot flashes, anxiety, and some physical symptoms of menopause. It may also improve lean body mass and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading). But grape seed extract doesn't seem to improve insomnia or depression.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk for heart disease. Early research in men suggests that whole grapes might improve some of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and decreased blood flow. Drinking grape juice for one month also seems to improve blood flow in teenagers with metabolic syndrome. And taking a specific product containing grape seed extract for 4 weeks seems to lower blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome. But it is not known if these changes decrease the risk for diabetes or other aspects of metabolic syndrome.
- Minor bleeding. An epiostomy is a surgical cut used to enlarge the opening of the vagina to aid in childbirth. Early research shows that using a product called Ankaferd blood stopper, which contains alpinia, licorice, thyme, stinging nettle, and grape vine helps to reduce bleeding during epiostomy repair. But it doesn't reduce surgical time.
- Muscle soreness. Early research shows that drinking juice prepared from grape powder for 6 weeks before an arm exercise test does not reduce pain or swelling one or two days after the exercise.
- Ability to see in low-light conditions. Early research suggests that grape seed extract containing chemicals called proanthocyanidins might improve night vision.
- Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Research shows that taking grape seed extract for 3 months improves some blood tests of liver damage in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Early research suggests that taking a specific grape seed extract product might reduce PMS symptoms, including pain and swelling.
- Wound healing. Early research shows that applying cream containing 2% grape seed extract reduces the time for wound healing after removal of skin lesions.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Canker sores.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Heavy menstrual periods.
- Liver damage.
- Treating varicose veins.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & SafetyWhen taken by mouth: Grape is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in amounts commonly found in foods. But keep in mind that, due to its size and shape, whole grapes are a potential choking hazard for children aged 5 years and younger. To reduce the risk, whole grapes should be cut in half or quartered before being served to children.
Grape is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts. Grape seed extracts have been used safely in studies for up to 14 weeks. Eating large quantities of grapes, dried grapes, raisins, or sultanas might cause diarrhea. Some people have allergic reactions to grapes and grape products. Some other potential side effects include stomach upset, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, cough, dry mouth, sore throat, infections, headache, and muscular problems.
When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if grape is safe or what the side effects might be.
When used in the vagina: There isn't enough reliable information to know if grape is safe or what the side effects might be.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if grape is safe to use in medicinal amounts when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid using more than amounts normally found in foods.
Bleeding conditions: Grape might slow blood clotting. Taking grape might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding conditions. However, there are no reports of this occurring in humans.
Surgery: Grape might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using medicinal amounts of grape at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Be cautious with this combination
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with GRAPE
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.<br/><br/> Grape juice might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking grape along with some medications that are changed by the liver can decrease the effectiveness of some medications. Before taking grape talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.<br/><br/> Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), theophylline, zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others.
Phenacetin interacts with GRAPE
The body breaks down phenacetin to get rid of it. Drinking grape juice might increase how quickly the body breaks down phenacetin. Taking phenacetin along with grape juice might decrease the effectiveness of phenacetin.
Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with GRAPE
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Grape seed might also slow blood clotting. Taking grape seed along with warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- A standardized red vine grape extract knows as AS 195 360 mg or 720 mg once daily for 6 to 12 weeks has been used.
- A specific grape seed extract containing proanthocyanidin 150-300 mg daily for one month has also been used. Proanthocyanidin is one of the active ingredients in grape.
- A specific grape seed extract containing proanthocyanidin 200 mg daily for 5 weeks has been used.
- Grape seed extract proanthocyanidin at a dose of 300 mg per day has also been used.
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- Cheah, K. Y., Howarth, G. S., Yazbeck, R., Wright, T. H., Whitford, E. J., Payne, C., Butler, R. N., and Bastian, S. E. Grape seed extract protects IEC-6 cells from chemotherapy-induced cytotoxicity and improves parameters of small intestinal mucositis in rats with experimentally-induced mucositis. Cancer Biol.Ther 2009;8(4):382-390. View abstract.
- Cherniack, E. P. A berry thought-provoking idea: the potential role of plant polyphenols in the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders. Br J Nutr 2012;108(5):794-800. View abstract.
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