Miracle on the vine?

Grapeseed touted as cure-all for skin and migraines

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Maybe i’m out of touch, but it’s only in the last couple of years that I started hearing about this grape seed stuff. Friends are cooking with it. People are massaging with it. It’s turning up in my cosmetics. A lot.

I’ve got this shower oil from L’Occitane that’s supposed to be part of a “30-day grape cure,” though I’m a little fuzzy on what exactly it’s supposed to cure me of.

Tidbits: Apparently, lots of it comes from Italy, where grape seeds are an abundant by-product of winemaking. The oil has a fairly high smoke point, which means it’s a good choice for cooking at high temperatures. It may help lower cholesterol and stave off heart disease.

It may help us look 10 years younger and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. It may.

What the experts say

“Grape seed oil is high in omega-6 . One of its advantages is that because it comes from grape seeds it tends to have a long shelf life. Grape seeds themselves contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. Some people take grape seed extract for its collagen-supporting benefits. It’s a good lightly flavoured oil when you don’t want a strong, overpowering taste. It’s high in phytosterolins, which raise [good] HDL cholesterol and lower LDL. You can use it for cooking. Because it’s light, it will thin out, and you need less of it. And of the eight different forms of vitamin E in food, grape seed oil is rich in six of them.’

AILEEN BURFORD-MASON , nutritionist, immunologist, Toronto

“Grape seed oil is one ingredient in my product. Scargone helps skin repair itself at a fast rate and get rid of scar tissue and toxins. Grape seed oil is important because it has omega-9 and helps the proper reproduction of cells. It also has other very effective ingredients for detoxification more than any other oil. With grape seed oil you do have to be careful, because it has bleaching properties. Used in large amounts it can cause some peoples skin to become sensitive to the sun, so I advise that it not be a main ingredient in skin care products.

EVA PIANTONI , Eva Essentials, Victoria, BC

“Grape seed oil is supposed to have antioxidant properties for damaged skin. It’s probably not very effective, but better than nothing at all in cosmetics. There’s no one who regulates how much goes into products. We don’t know how strong it needs to be to be effective. There have been no randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials. It’s not used in dermatology as a treatment. It’s a cosmetic. If you’re making a cosmetic and you want to add an antioxidant, grape seed oil’s not a bad one to use. It’s not the strongest one. You’d want to look for vitamin C first.”

LISA KELLETT , dermatologist, Toronto “The oil is used topically for massage. I recommend it for pregnant women who want to massage the perineum so it will become more elastic. It can be used after childbirth for healing. The extract’s main therapeutic use is as an antioxidant. It has an affinity for blood vessel walls, so it’s good for the capillary fragility that causes varicose veins . And it is used against cancer to boost the immune system . Grape seed extract has been shown to have anti-viral effects and has been studied in relation to HIV. I’ve used it for PMS and migraines because it can increase circulation to the brain. There are concerns that it might have some blood-thinning properties, so you want to be cautious.’

DU LA , naturopath, Toronto


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