Grape seed oil for health and beauty
Native to Asia in the region of the Caspian Sea, grapes are one of the oldest domesticated plants and have been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. While Egyptians ate them six thousand years ago and Greeks philosophers heralded its health attributes as wine, the European folk healers have used grapes, and various parts of the plant, to treat a multitude of health conditions from skin and eye diseases, inflammation, pain, sore throat and constipation.
Modern research has shown that the health benefits of eating grapes and consuming grape derived products is due to the complex chemistry of the flavonoid rich plant. Within the plant, this group of phytochemicals gives the plants their rich color and aroma, thus helping with pollination, function as a protective agent against different biotic and abiotic stresses and act as a unique UV filter.
In human health, flavonoids are proved to play an important role as an antioxidant and studies have shown antimutagenic (anti cell mutation) activity and reduction of cardiovascular disease risk.
The grape seeds used for the production of oil are a by-product of the wine making industry and as scientific research advances, are becoming highly regarded due to their potential health benefits.
The same flavonoids responsible for protecting the plants from UV radiation, in humans help in the prevention of skin cancer due to the attenuation of UV induced oxidative stress. While most research conducted involved the ingestion of grape seed oil or extract, a limited number of studies focused on the topical application of grape seed oil on skin, with results suggesting not only an SPF factor of 5, but further protection offered by the antioxidant, anti mutagenic, anti-inflammatory and anti carcinogenic activities of the flavonoids. The combination between UV protection and antioxidant action of grape seed oil help prevent skin aging and maintain its elasticity. One of the factors responsible for grape seed extracts in maintaining skin elasticity is its ability to increase collagen strength and flexibility, thus helping improve skin health and elasticity, doubling its anti aging effect offered by the UV protection.
Ingested, grape seed extract effects on collagen strength and flexibility, combined with its powerful antioxidant capabilities, are demonstrated to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, improving the elasticity of joints and arteries.
As an antioxidant, stronger then Vitamin E, grape seed extract, rich in phenolic compounds, has a role in the removal of free radicals and the chelation of metals, which influences cell signaling and functioning of the immune system by reducing the oxidative stress at cellular level, helping maintain cellular integrity.
Not only that the anti-inflammatory effects of the grape seed extract can help in the prevention and reduction of chronic diseases caused by the inflammatory process, but the same effect can be noticed on skin where it topical anti-inflammatories help reduce swelling, redness, itchiness and acne, action further advanced by its anti-microbial properties against the growth of Staphylococcus aureus which can cause skin irritation and abscesses.
Grape seed oil applied topically has is high in linoleic acid that helps strengthen cell membranes and improve skin health and has astringent properties that help tighten the skin, reduce swelling and improve wound healing. Studies have shown that the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory actions of grape seed oil combined with the vascular endothelial growth factor not only help with wound contraction and closure but reduce the appearance of scarring, making it an ideal adage to a healthy skin regimen.
Internally, grape seed extract has been found to have a further role in cardiovascular protection by stabilizing capillary walls, reducing total cholesterol by up to 42% and LDL cholesterol by up to 56% while new emerging studies suggest that grape seed extract has effects in stabilizing diabetic retinopathy and nephropathy. Used in the ancient world to treat eye disease, modern research has shown that grape seed extract not only reduces the eye strain caused by prolonged viewing of the computer screen, but helps improve the visual adaptation to and from bright sunlight.
While no studies are yet available for the use of grape seed extract in the treatment of hyperpigmentation despite folk remedies suggesting that it is useful in topical skin lightening, one study has found that oral use of grape seed extract for six months has successfully reduced cholasma (severe hyperpigmentation) in women.
Used throughout history as a fruit and in wine making, with a long tradition in folk remedies, grapes are emerging as having potent health benefits, making them highly desirable in the inclusion not only of a healthy diet, but as adjuvants in skin therapy.
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