OPC Health Benefits
OPCs from grape seed and pine bark could help as an antioxidant dietary supplement to reduce the chances or to cut the risk of a number of health problems ranging from heart diseases, cancer, to aging skin, which may be caused by nutritional deficiency due to unbalanced diet.
An earlier study published in 1998 indicated that taking grape seed extract OPC substantially increased antioxidant levels with healthy volunteers in their blood. By the end of the last century, OPCs were already used in France to treat a variety of health problems related to free radical oxidative stress, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, while there was lack of significant human clinical studies by then. The cellular and animal studies supported the uses. Several human clinical trials were done recently on relatively small number of participants, and the results support the health benefits of OPCs as a dietary supplement. Several more human clinical trials using OPCs as grape seed and pine bark extracts are in progress.
The OPC antioxidant activity of grape seed and pine bark extract is well established. The biological studies have also revealed a variety of other activities for OPCs. Grape seed extract in animal models has been shown to alter capillary permeability, and to modulate anti-apoptotic genes and regulate molecular targets such as DNA damage and repair, intracellular calcium homeostasis lipid peroxidation. OPC grape seed extract also inhibits the activities of xanthine oxidase, the proteolytic enzymes –collagenase and elastase, and the glycosidases (hyaluronidase and beta-glucuronidase). Pine bark extract contains polyphenols that have been shown to inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans and glucan formation from sucrose, biological events of dental caries. OPCs may stimulate cell renewal by interfering with mucosal proteins. There are many more new publications about grape seed extract in biological studies, which are reviewed in details in the last section of this page.
1. OPCs support heart health
The primary health benefit of OPCs is that for cardiovascular health. OPC grape seed extracts of different sources have been studied at 3 different levels of life: 1, cellular level; 2, animal model; 3, human clinical trials. All the results indicate that grape seed extract OPC is the super antioxidant, an excellent dietary supplement for people of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Grape seed extract OPC has been proven to be safe for these conditions with excellent nutritonal benefits, even though grape seed extract is not intended to treat and prevent any diseases. Grape seed extracts have been demonstrated in several small clinical studies to be able to relieve hypertension by reducing high blood pressure and stabilize the normal blood pressure. Mre studies based on long-term programs and more participants are needed to confirm initial findings.
One of the studies looked at the effects of an OPC grape seed extract on lipid peroxidation (fat deposition in the blood) in a group of heavy smokers. Twenty-four healthy male smokers, (aged 50 years or greater) took either placebo or 150mg of a grape seed extract and soy-phosphatidalcholine, twice daily for 4 weeks. The LDL cholesterol levels were significantly lower in those taking the grape seed OPC than those taking placebo. Cardioprotective effects of OPC grape seed extract is likely from its ability to deactivate anti-apoptotic genes and regulate DNA damage and repair, lipid peroxidation and intracellular calcium homeostasis.†
Grape seed extract OPCs have been shown to be a very useful antioxidant supplement for maintenance of healthy heart performance. They hinder and stave off the development of plaque, inhibit atherosclerosis, and block platelet aggregation and eicosanoid synthesis, which are known to clog the arteries, a very dangerous event for the sufferers of this condition. For the same reasons, OPC grape seed extract with its ongoing use may reduce the chance of stroke resulting from imbalanced diet . With its ongoing use, OPC grape seed extract is effective supplement for conditions pertaining to the heart and blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and poor circulation. OPC grape seed extracts are effective in minimizing doxorubin-induced cardiotoxicity, as well as other drug-induced nephrotoxicity and pulmonary toxicity.
2. Grape seed extract OPCs for Cancers
Studies have found that grape seed extract OPCs inhibit the growth of breast, stomach, colon, prostate, leukemia and lung cancer cells in test tubes and in animal model studies. However, there is no clear evidence yet whether it works in humans. Antioxidants, such as grape seed extract OPCs, are believed to reduce the risk of developing cancer, as antioxidant-deficiency may cause damages by free radicals to the body tissues leading to cancers. Grape seed extract was also studied for effect of minimizing the damage to human liver cells caused by chemotherapy medications. In vitro studies have shown that grape seed extract OPCs have synergistic anti-cancer effects with doxorubicin. The fundamental studies with cells and animals indicate that grape seed extract OPCs should offer nutritional benefits to cancer patients.
3. Grape seed extract OPCs under investigations for diabetes
Some studies showed that oligomeric procyanidins (OPC) from grape seeds can suppress hyperglycaemia in streptozotocin-diabetic rats and OPCs stimulate glucose uptake in insulin-sensitive cell lines. OPC grape seed extract has also been investigated for effect on insulin resistance induced by oxidative stress in rats fed a high-fructose diet. It was found that glucose intolerance of rats was significantly improved by OPC grape seed extract supplementation. OPC grape seed extract are currently used as dietary supplement for diabet. Human clinical studies are needed in the future to confirm its therapeutical value.
4. Grape seed extract OPCs under investigations for other diseases
Grape seed extract OPCs are being studied as a potential drug supplement for Edema -- swelling caused by surgery or an injury, to make healing faster by preliminary studies. Edema is common after breast cancer surgery. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, breast cancer patients who took 600 mg of grape seed extract daily after surgery for six months had less edema and pain than those who took placebo. Another study found that people who took grape seed extract OPC after sport injuries had less swelling than those who took placebo.
Additionally, topical application of grape seed extract OPCs accelerated wound contraction and closure. But orally administered OPC grape seed extract was not effective for breast induration following radiotherapy in patients with breast cancer.
Grape seed extract OPC are often suggested for the following 3 conditions based on basic biological studies: protecting collagen and elastin in skin (anti-aging); used for hemorrhoids as a dietary supplement.
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