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Grape Seed Extract

grapes

Grape Seed Extract

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Introduction

This fact sheet provides basic information about grape seed extract—uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information. The grape seeds used to produce grape seed extract are generally obtained from wine manufacturers. The leaves and fruit of the grape have been used medicinally since ancient Greece.

Common Name—grape seed extract

Latin NameVitis vinifera

What It Is Used For

  • Grape seed extract is used for conditions related to the heart and blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor circulation.
  • Other reasons for the use of grape seed extract include complications related to diabetes, such as nerve and eye damage; vision problems, such as macular degeneration (which can cause blindness); and swelling after an injury or surgery.
  • Grape seed extract is also used for cancer prevention and wound healing.

How It Is Used

Grape seed extract is prepared from the seed of grapes. It is available in capsule and tablet forms.

What the Science Says

  • Laboratory studies have shown that grape seed contains antioxidants-substances that prevent cell damage caused by free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can damage cell function. However, it is still unclear how grape seed might affect human health.
  • Grape seed extract has shown some beneficial antioxidant effects in preliminary clinical trials. However, few trials have looked at specific diseases or conditions, and little scientific evidence is available.
  • A study funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) found that grape seed extract did not reduce the hardening of breast tissue that can occur after radiation therapy for breast cancer.
  • NCI is also funding studies evaluating whether grape seed extract is effective in preventing breast and prostate cancers.
  • NCCAM is studying whether the action of grape seed extract and its components may benefit the heart or have protective effects in the brain.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • Grape seed extract is generally well tolerated when taken by mouth. It has been used safely for up to 8 weeks in clinical trials.
  • Side effects that have been reported most often include headache; a dry, itchy scalp; dizziness; and nausea.
  • The interactions between grape seed extract and medicines or other supplements have not been carefully studied.
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

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Green Tea

greentea

Green Tea

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Introduction

This fact sheet provides basic information about green tea—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information. All types of tea (green, black, and oolong) are produced from the Camellia sinensis plant using different methods. Fresh leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant are steamed to produce green tea.

Common Names—green tea, Chinese tea, Japanese tea

Latin NamesCamellia sinensis

What It Is Used For

  • Green tea and green tea extracts, such as its component EGCG, have been used to prevent and treat a variety of cancers, including breast, stomach, and skin cancers.
  • Green tea and green tea extracts have also been used for improving mental alertness, aiding in weight loss, lowering cholesterol levels, and protecting skin from sun damage.

How It Is Used

Green tea is usually brewed and drunk as a beverage. Green tea extracts can be taken in capsules and are sometimes used in skin products.

What the Science Says

  • Laboratory studies suggest that green tea may help protect against or slow the growth of certain cancers, but studies in people have shown mixed results.
  • Some evidence suggests that the use of green tea preparations improves mental alertness, most likely because of its caffeine content. There are not enough reliable data to determine whether green tea can aid in weight loss, lower blood cholesterol levels, or protect the skin from sun damage.
  • NCCAM is supporting studies to learn more about the components in green tea and their effects on conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • Green tea is safe for most adults when used in moderate amounts.
  • There have been some case reports of liver problems in people taking concentrated green tea extracts. This problem does not seem to be connected with green tea infusions or beverages. Although these cases are very rare and the evidence is not definitive, experts suggest that concentrated green tea extracts be taken with food, and that people should discontinue use and consult a heath care practitioner if they have a liver disorder or develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice.
  • Green tea and green tea extracts contain caffeine. Caffeine can cause insomnia, anxiety, irritability, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, or frequent urination in some people.
  • Green tea contains small amounts of vitamin K, which can make anticoagulant drugs, such as warfarin, less effective.
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

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Bilberry

bilberry

Bilberry

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Introduction

This fact sheet provides basic information about bilberry—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information. Bilberry is a relative of the blueberry, and its fruit is commonly used to make pies and jams. It has been used for nearly 1,000 years in traditional European medicine. Bilberry grows in North America, Europe, and northern Asia.

Common Names—bilberry, European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry

Latin NamesVaccinium myrtillus

What It Is Used For

  • Historically, bilberry fruit was used to treat diarrhea, scurvy, and other conditions.
  • Today, the fruit is used to treat diarrhea, menstrual cramps, eye problems, varicose veins, venous insufficiency (a condition in which the veins do not efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart), and other circulatory problems.
  • Bilberry leaf is used for entirely different conditions, including diabetes.

How It Is Used

The fruit of the bilberry plant can be eaten or made into extracts. Similarly, the leaves of the bilberry plant can be made into extracts or used to make teas.

What the Science Says

  • Some claim that bilberry fruit improves night vision, but clinical studies have not shown this to be true.
  • There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of bilberry fruit or leaf for any health conditions.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • Bilberry fruit is considered safe. However, high doses of bilberry leaf or leaf extract are considered unsafe due to possible toxic side effects.
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

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