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OPC – The Power Of Grape Seeds

The grape seed extract contains OPC and is therefore an extremely helpful substance. OPC is a plant substance with an antioxidant effect and at the same time a specialist for very specific areas of the body. OPC acts in particular on the skin, eyes, hair, and the immune system.

OPC as a natural anti-aging agent

OPC stands for Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins. These are plant substances from the group of polyphenols, which in turn belong to secondary plant substances. OPC is mainly obtained from grape seeds or as a pine bark extract from the bark of certain types of pine but is also found (in smaller amounts) e.g. B. in the red-brown membranes of peanut kernels.

OPC is particularly well known as an antioxidant, which means it can reduce oxidative stress and scavenge free radicals, which otherwise lead to cell and tissue damage, thereby also fueling skin aging.

Particularly deep and stubborn wrinkles form when free radicals not only attack the skin cells themselves, but also the two fiber proteins – collagen and elastin – which are located between the skin cells and keep the skin taut and elastic.

The fibrous proteins lose their stability and elasticity after radical attacks. Finally, they are broken down by the body’s own enzymes. However, the less collagen there is in the skin, the less moisture the skin can store. It dries up and becomes wrinkled.

The tiny blood vessels that supply every skin cell with nutrients and oxygen also consist partly of fibrous proteins and continue to shrink as the fibrous protein content decreases.

But what happens then? The fewer blood vessels in the skin, the poorer it is supplied with nutrients and oxygen. However, there are also cells (fibroblasts) in the skin tissue that would actually – if they could – form new fiber proteins every day.

They too are attacked by the free radicals and can then form fewer and fewer fibrous proteins, so that the vicious circle is finally closed. When antioxidants such as However, if OPCs, for example, stop free radicals, the skin cells, fibroblasts, fiber proteins, and blood vessels can also be protected and the aging process slowed down.

OPC has a stronger effect than vitamin E and vitamin C

However, this is how many antioxidants work. The special thing about OPC is that its antioxidant potential is 20 times greater than that of vitamin E and 50 times as effective as the antioxidant power of the famous vitamin.

But OPC can do a lot more for your skin because OPC repairs unstable collagen. If you imagine the structure of the collagen-like ladder, the rungs of which are slowly but surely becoming rotten or are already missing completely, then OPC can replace the missing or brittle stiles. Wrinkles are smoothed out and the skin regains its former elasticity.

This is a kind of natural face-lift – without any knife or pain. The skin enzyme activity is also promoted by the OPC, which leads to increased protection against UV radiation.

OPC for faster wound healing

If OPC now has such beneficial effects on the connective tissue and the skin, then wounds under the influence of OPC and grape seed extract also heal much faster.

The active ingredients of the grape seed extract – above all OPC – render bacteria harmless, encourage damaged blood vessels to regenerate quickly, and support the thorough repair of connective tissue.

This was shown by a clinical study from 2014: 20 patients who had recently had an operation were given a cream with 2 percent grape seed extract, which they were asked to apply to the wound twice a day for three weeks. The control group received a cream without grape seed extract (5). While the wounds in the grape seed extract group had healed completely after just eight days, this was only the case in the control group after 14 days.

Unfortunately, we are not aware of any OPC cream that we would recommend, as the manufacturers unfortunately often do not want to disclose the OPC content. Therefore, only buy a cream if you can find out the amount of OPC it contains from the manufacturer.

OPC in neurodermatitis

All the properties of OPC mentioned so far plus its immune system-relieving effect and the anti-inflammatory effect described below give rise to hope that OPC could also be helpful in neurodermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis is a complex process and should never be tackled with just one substance. The holistic therapy of neurodermatitis, therefore, includes the right diet, intestinal flora, regular detoxification, of course, the avoidance of possible triggering factors, the supply of sufficient vitamin D and all vitamins of the B complex, and much more.

OPC can be used concomitantly in the therapy of neurodermatitis. For example, there is a study in which 12 people with neurodermatitis were to use a cream with OPC from grape seeds and vitamin E twice a day for four weeks. The control group received a placebo. The skin areas affected by neurodermatitis in the grape seed group then shrunk significantly faster than those in the control group.

OPC for beautiful and full hair

Of course, beautiful, healthy, and young skin is not everything in life. A supple head of hair wouldn’t be bad either. OPC has an extremely positive and, above all, visible effect on hair growth and hair appearance in many people (and also in animals, especially dogs).

The hair becomes soft, shiny and grows faster than average, and is longer than ever.

Many years ago, Japanese studies showed that OPC could increase cell proliferation in hair follicles by 230% compared to control preparations.

In addition, OPC has a remarkable ability to influence the hair cycle. OPC increases the number of hairs that are in the so-called anagen phase (growth phase), so the researchers concerned recommended OPC from grape seed extract as a component to promote hair growth.

OPC for healthy eyes

Glasses and contact lenses are very helpful. But wouldn’t it be better if we could preserve our sight in old age?

Since OPC protects against free radical damage, as discussed above, and strengthens collagen — which is also important for the eyes — grape seed extract may help prevent age-related vision problems.

Not only that but OPC is also recommended to help fight macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as improve night vision (10). Macular degeneration is an eye disease in which retinal cells die and vision in the central field is impaired. So, for example, you can see the clock but not the hands, you can see the outline of a person but not the face.

OPC protects the heart and blood vessels

Of course, free radicals don’t just attack skin, hair, and eyes. They are implicated in the development of many common health problems, such as B. osteoporosis, tooth decay, diabetes, and digestive problems.

High blood pressure can also develop when blood vessels are damaged by free radicals. Because just like in the skin, the blood vessel walls throughout the body contain the fiber proteins mentioned, which give them stability and elasticity.

If the number of fibrous proteins decreases, the blood vessel walls harden, the blood flow comes to a standstill and the body increases blood pressure in order to keep things going at least to some extent despite the poor vascular situation.

Here, in turn, OPC and all other antioxidants from the grape seed extract help, protect the fiber proteins, maintain the elasticity of the blood vessel walls, keep the blood vessels free of deposits and protect them from future oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The risk of cardiovascular problems is consequently reduced to a minimum with OPC.

OPC against PMS

OPC also has an extremely positive effect in a very difficult area, namely in the area of the female hormone balance, e.g. B. with PMS complaints. PMS describes the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. This includes all hormone-related phenomena that generally occur a few days before the period and disappear again when the bleeding begins, such as B. Mood swings, headaches, fatigue, menstrual pain, etc.

How specifically OPC affects the hormone balance has not yet been clearly clarified. It is assumed that OPC can also harmonize the hormone system by strengthening and regulating the immune system.

In any case, a study showed that a large proportion (60 percent) of 165 women who had taken 200 mg of OPC daily from day 14 to day 28 of their cycle for four months felt relief from their PMS symptoms after just two months. After four months, there was even 80 percent were doing significantly better with OPC.

OPC for allergies

OPC from grape seed extract could also be used as a natural anti-histamine with no side effects and in this way alleviate allergic reactions.

OPC is said to inhibit the activation of certain pro-inflammatory enzymes which, if activated, would lead to the release of histamine and thus to allergic symptoms. This emerges from a study on asthmatic mice.

This indicates that OPC also has anti-inflammatory effects, although this is certainly not the only mechanism that OPC may use to block inflammation.

Professor Jack Masquelier, who researched OPC for many decades, conducted a self-experiment to demonstrate the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of OPC:

To do this, he applied a skin-irritating solution to two skin areas on his arm. He then applied a 0.5% OPC ointment to one of the two spots. After two days, an unpleasant inflammation developed in the untreated area. However, the area treated with OPC was already healing.

OPC protects the brain and nerves

Once in the brain, OPC and the other active ingredients in the grape seed extract also have an immediate protective effect there and protect nerves and brain tissue from oxidative attacks. The results may include improved mental alertness and reduced risk of dementia and stroke.

OPC for varicose veins, edema, and swelling

In the case of chronic venous insufficiency and swollen, painful varicose veins, experience reports and studies have shown that OPC from grape seed extract was able to reduce symptoms. It has also been shown that edema (water accumulation in the tissue) – for example after operations or injuries – and swelling after sports injuries disappeared more quickly with OPC and grape seed extract.

OPC in cancer

Cellular studies also suggest that OPC from grape seed extract may inhibit tumor growth and possibly even the development of breast, colon, and lung cancer cells.

Furthermore, it is discussed whether OPC or grape seed extract could be suitable as an adjunctive therapy parallel to chemotherapy since the extract keeps the side effects of the chemotherapeutic agents within limits.

In a study on cells, South African researchers showed that grape seed extract with OPC and other active ingredients in colon cancer could kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

Important when buying OPC: the right quality

If you take grape seed extract together with a vitamin-rich diet, you can increase the protective effect of the OPC many times over. OPC increases the antioxidant capacity of vitamins and vice versa. Both – OPC from grape seed extract and vitamins – work synergistically and improve each other’s effects.

When buying OPC preparations, pay attention to at least the following points:

  • The OPC should be in the form of grape seed extract, not as an isolated substance.
  • Natural vitamin C should be added to the grape seed extract, e.g. B. in the form of acerola fruit powder.
  • The preparation should contain at least 200 mg OPC per daily dose. There are now also OPC preparations that contain 500 mg per daily dose (2 capsules).

When specifying the amount of OPC, make sure that the amount of OPC is actually given and not the amount of grape seed extract or the number of total polyphenols. A proper indication of the amount per daily dose would look e.g. like this:

  • Grape seed extract: 500 mg
  • of which polyphenols: 475 mg
  • of which proanthocyanidins: 350 mg
  • thereof oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC): 200 mg

NOTE: People with allergies or intolerance to grapes or red wine should not use grape seed extract and red wine extract. Instead, you could take pine bark extract, which also contains OPC. Grape seed extract should also not be taken with blood thinners.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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