Grape seed extract (GSE) contains antioxidants that may support heart, brain, and skin health–but the clinical evidence on its effects is weak and inconslusive. Does GSE increase testosterone and boost weight loss? Does it improve skin appearence? Read on to find out if these and other purported benefits of GSE are supported by solid science.
What Is Grape Seed Extract?
Grape seed extract is a concentrated source of antioxidant polyphenols from grape seeds [1, 2, 3].
Grapes and other berries abound with specific polyphenols, proanthocyanidins. They are responsible for the dry mouth sensation you get from drinking red wine or berry juice, but they also act as potent antioxidants .
- Helps lower blood pressure
- Protects the brain, heart and blood vessels
- May protect the liver and kidneys
- Supports wound healing
- Most benefits lack clinical evidence
- May not be safe for children and pregnant women
- May interact with blood thinners and other medications
Grape Seed Extract Benefits
Preliminary research on grape seed extract promises a lot, but the available clinical evidence in people with health conditions is limited. The following studies should encourage further investigation before we make any definite conclusions and recommendations.
Remember to speak with a doctor before taking grape seed extract supplements. They can not replace medical treatment for any health condition.
How It Works
Oxidative stress lurks as an underlying cause of many health conditions. Grape seeds are among the best sources of powerful antioxidants, proanthocyanidins, which build oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs) with unique antioxidant properties [4, 5, 6, 7].
Phenolic acids and flavonoids from grape seeds also combat oxidative damage .
Truth be told, this doesn’t mean grape seed extract can help with all conditions in which oxidative stress plays a role.
Apart from free-radical protection, this unique mixture of grape seed components may [9, 10, 11]:
- Relieve inflammation and allergies
- Kills microbes and cancer cells
- Protect healthy cells against toxins and radiation
Likely Effective For:
1) Circulatory and Vein Health
In 36 subjects, one-month supplementation with grape seed extract (2 g daily) protected blood vessels against free-radical damage by boosting nitric oxide .
In a series of smaller clinical trials (130 people in total), grape seed extract lowered the risk of heart disease by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation. It prevented the oxidation of LDL (“bad cholesterol”) in the blood vessels. Oxidized LDL can trigger plaque buildup or atherosclerosis [13, 14, 15, 16, 17].
Keep in mind that some of the above results were observed in diabetics and heavy smokers only, and they might not translate to the general population.
Animal trials confirmed the ability of this extract to protect the heart and blood vessels against [15, 18, 19, 20, 21]:
- LDL oxidation
- Clogging and hardening
- Drug-induced damage
- Damage due to heart attack
- Lead poisoning
Two meta-analyses of 25 clinical trials (1,200 patients in total) concluded that grape seed extract can lower blood pressure. The effect was stronger in younger participants, obese patients, and those with metabolic disorders. That said, the impact on diastolic blood pressure (lower value) was less conclusive and requires further investigation [22, 23].
In 36 patients at risk of high blood pressure, the extract (300 mg daily for 6 weeks) reduced blood pressure and lowered their risk .
Vein Problems and Swelling
In deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot from the legs can get stuck in the lungs and cause a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism .
Grape seed extract (400 mg daily for eight weeks) had blood-thinning effects in a study of 17 older women. This effect effect could potentially lower the risk of blood clots and vein thrombosis, which are much more common in older (postmenopausal) women [26, 27].
In 16 younger women, both acute and two-week supplementation with grape seed extract reduced leg swelling after prolonged sitting .
Obviously, both studies had extremely small samples, so they don’t provide decent clinical evidence.
In rats with deep vein thrombosis, the extract prevented the formation of blood clots. It also inhibited blood clotting in many cell-based studies [29, 30, 31, 32, 33].
Likely Ineffective For:
2) High Blood Lipids
In a meta-analysis of nine clinical trials with 390 participants, grape seed extract had no effect on blood lipid levels and C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation .
Purported Grape Seed Extract Benefits with Insufficient Evidence
The following purported benefits are only supported by limited, low-quality clinical studies. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of grapeseed for any of the below-listed uses.
3) Cognitive Decline
In over 100 older patients, supplementation with grape seed extract enhanced cognition and reduced the symptoms of stress and depression .
In animal and cell studies, these extracts protected brain cells against oxidative damage and death triggered by different toxins [35, 36, 37].
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health supports preliminary research on grape seed extract for Alzheimer’s disease .
The culprit of Alzheimer’s disease is age-related cognitive decline caused by protein mutations and free-radical damage in the brain .
Polyphenols from grapes and blueberries (600 mg daily for 6 months) relieved cognitive decline and memory loss in 215 older patients. This potent antioxidant mixture showed the same results in mice [39, 40].
Still, the above findings might not translate to pure grape seed extract.
In animal models, grape seed extract lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by [41, 42, 43, 44]:
- Reducing free-radical damage in the hippocampus (the brain’s memory hub)
- Raising the levels of antioxidants
- Preventing protein mutations
- Boosting the animals’ cognition and memory
4) Wound Healing
In 40 patients recovering from a surgery, grape seed extract 2% cream enhanced wound healing by stimulating VEGF production, blocking oxidative damage, and fighting microbes .
It showed the same effect in two animal studies [46, 47].
Grape seed extract ointment (5%) significantly improved wound healing after C-section in a trial of 129 women .
5) Liver Protection
In 15 patients with fatty liver, grape seed extract dropped liver enzymes and reversed fat buildup. It showed better results than vitamin C. But such a small sample prevents us from drawing firm conclusions from this study .
Thanks to its strong antioxidant action, grape seed extract shielded the liver of lab animals from damage caused by:
- Bile duct obstruction [50, 51]
- Heavy metals [52, 53]
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 
- Cut blood supply 
- Chemicals 
In mice, it outperformed vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene in protecting the brain and liver against oxidative stress .
Aflatoxins are dangerous mold toxins that can wreak havoc on the liver and even cause liver cancer. In studies on chicken, grape seed extract prevented aflatoxin-induced damage [56, 57, 58].
6) Kidney Protection
In a clinical trial of 33 patients with kidney disease, grape seed extract enhanced kidney function by providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support. This study had a small sample size and uneven randomization, making the results questionable .
In animals, grape seed extract protected the kidneys from toxic drugs and high cholesterol. It worked by [60, 61, 62]:
- Lowering markers of inflammation (IL-1B, TNF-a, MCP-1)
- Raising protective molecules (HDL, NO, cGMP)
- Boosting kidney function (reducing creatinine, urea, and uric acid)
- Preventing LDL oxidation and its buildup
7) Hair Loss
Grape seeds contain procyanidins—powerful antioxidants that support hair growth. An extract of procyanidins (from Annurca apple) boosted hair growth in a trial on 250 men. Still, this doesn’t mean that grape seed procyanidins would achieve the same .
Grape seed extract and isolated procyanidins stimulated the hair follicles and enhanced hair growth in different animal and cell-based studies [64, 65, 66, 67].
8) Weight Loss
Many supplements are promoted to stimulate weight loss, but none of them has yet been supported by strong clinical evidence and approved by the health authorities. A healthy, calorie-controlled diet and increased physical activity remain the only proven strategies for weight control .
In 51 overweight patients, grape seed extract slightly reduced food intake but didn’t impact appetite. This study lasted only three days and had a small sample size .
In animals on high-fat and high-sugar diets, grape seed extract [70, 71, 72, 73]:
- Blocked fat buildup and production in the liver
- Enhanced fat burning
- Lowered the levels of cholesterol and blood lipids
But one study revealed puzzling results. Low doses of grape seed extract lowered inflammation but increased body fat in pregnant rats and their offspring, when combined with a high-fat diet .
9) Benefits for the Skin
Moderate sunbathing is essential for your vitamin D production and overall health and wellbeing. On the other hand, excess UV exposure may cause sunburns and skin damage .
The skin of 10 volunteers treated with grape seed extract before UV exposure had fewer mutated and damaged cells and more healthy ones. However, the lack of placebo control and a tiny sample minimize the relevance of this clinical study .
The extract also prevented UV-induced skin cancer by blocking oxidative damage and inflammation in many animal trials [77, 78, 79, 80, 81].
In 12 women, supplementation with grape seed extract (200 mg daily for 6 months) lightened the skin and reduced face spots .
Its combination with other antioxidants improved skin complexion in 35 women. They were able to get rid of dark circles, face spots, and other skin imperfections. The majority of women (82%) were satisfied with the results .
Grape Seed Extract Uses Lacking Evidence
No clinical evidence supports the use of grapeseed extract for any of the conditions listed in this section.
Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
10) Reproductive Health and Testosterone Levels
In male rats, grape seed extract recovered testosterone levels and prevented testicular damage caused by [84, 85, 86, 87, 88]:
- Chemotherapy and other drugs
- Toxic chemicals
According to some animal studies, grape seed extract can inhibit an enzyme called aromatase, which converts male sex hormones (androgens) to female sex hormones (estrogens). This effect could, in theory, raise the levels of testosterone and protect against breast cancer [89, 90].
In diabetic rats, grape seed extract lowered blood glucose, cholesterol, and lipids while boosting insulin secretion and antioxidant support .
The extract had the same effects on animals with insulin resistance caused by a high-sugar diet. It prevented blood glucose spikes and restored antioxidant enzymes such as catalase and SOD [92, 93].
Plus, grape seed extract protected diabetic rats and mice against an array of complications, such as:
- Heart disease [94, 95, 96]
- Bladder dysfunction 
- Brain damage 
- Neuropathy (nerve damage) 
- Lung impairment 
- Nephropathy (kidney damage) 
12) Joint and Bone Health
In rats and mice with rheumatoid arthritis, grape seed extract improved symptoms and reduced autoimmune joint destruction. It lowered the levels of inflammatory molecules (TNF-a, IL-17, IL-21, ICAM-1) and silenced Th1 and Th17 autoimmune responses [102, 103, 104, 105, 106].
In another study, it protected rats against a different joint disease, osteoarthritis. The extract reduced joint pain and cartilage degradation .
Additionally, grape seed extract strengthened the bones and boosted their growth in several rat studies [108, 109, 110, 111].
13) Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Widespread autoimmune inflammation and oxidative stress cause severe gut damage in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the two main forms of IBD. Dietary antioxidants are being researched as a complementary approach to IBD .
In rats and mice with IBD, grape seed extract [113, 114, 115, 116]:
- Tightened the gut lining
- Cut the levels of inflammatory markers (TNF-a, IL1B, IL-6)
- Restored the gut microbiome
- Reduced oxidative stress
14) Asthma and Allergies
Grape seed extract relieved airway inflammation (IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, iNOS), IgE immune response, and mucus production in asthmatic rats [117, 118, 119].
In test tubes, it inhibited the release of histamine and other inflammatory components from mast cells, which play a central role in allergic response .
15) Antibacterial Activity
Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from the cell wall of gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, etc.) can trigger inflammation and cause different symptoms of bacterial infections .
Grape seed extract controlled the inflammatory response (NOx, IL-6, iNOS) and boosted glutathione in rats infected with LPS .
In LPS-infected blood cells, the extract inhibited inflammatory molecules (such as NF-kB, PGE2, and MMP) [123, 124, 125].
In test tubes, grape seed extract suppressed the growth of :
- Bacillus cereus (causes diarrhea and foodborne illnesses)
- Staphylococcus aureus (infects the skin, lungs, and soft tissues)
- Escherichia coli (triggers UTIs and gut infection)
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa (causes dangerous infections in hospitals)
It even killed drug-resistant superbugs known as MRSA in one cell experiment .
That said, the results of cell-based research don’t reveal much about the actual antibacterial effects in the human body.
Grape seed extract supplements aren’t approved for cancer prevention or treatment.
The findings discussed below stem from preliminary clinical research and animal studies. The National Cancer Institute “is supporting preliminary studies on grape seed extract for preventing prostate, lung, and colon cancer.” The existing data should guide further investigation but shouldn’t be interpreted as supportive of anticancer effects until more research is done .
In a large observational study of over 35,000 people, those who used grape seed extract had 41% lower rates of prostate cancer .
An even larger sample (over 65,000 subjects) from the same trial revealed that extract users also had 43% lower rates of leukemia (blood cancers) .
In many studies on rats and mice, grape seed extract prevented UV-induced skin cancer by blocking oxidative damage and inflammation [77, 78, 79, 80, 81].
Plus, this extract inhibited the growth of many other cancer types in lab animals, such as:
- Colon cancer (by 44-88%) [130, 131]
- Lung cancer [132, 133]
- Prostate cancer (by 50%) 
- Breast cancer 
- Liver cancer 
Test tubes have confirmed its ability to kill different types of cancer cells while supporting the healthy ones [137, 138, 139, 140, 141].
Combinations with Standard Treatment
Chemotherapy and radiation as standard cancer treatments are facing challenges such as inadequate efficacy and significant adverse effects .
Grape seed extract boosted chemotherapy efficiency in animal and cell studies [143, 144, 145].
At the same time, it relieved side effects caused by chemo and radiation, including [144, 146, 87, 62, 143, 15, 145]:
- Gut inflammation
- Testicular damage
- Kidney damage
- Impaired immunity
- Heart failure
In rats exposed to radiation, grape seed extract maintained the levels of crucial antioxidants (GSH, retinol, B-carotene) and prevented lipid peroxidation better than vitamin E .
Grape seed extract is an excellent source of antioxidant proanthocyanidins. According to limited clinical evidence, it may help with vein problems (chronic venous insufficiency) and support heart and brain health.
Supplements and creams with grape seed extract may help rejuvenate your skin, remove face spots, and enhance wound healing, but more research is needed. The evidence is insufficient when it comes to hair growth, weight loss, liver support, reproductive health, and more.