HEALTH

The Powerful Protection of Grape Seed

If only there was something that could help to stem the onset of degenerative disease, inhibit some of the processes of aging, and increase health span.

In fact, there is. OPC is that agent of health, a powerful antioxidant found in the skins of grape seed. OPC, or oligomeric proanthocyanidins, is found in numerous plants throughout nature, and occurs in abundance in grape seed skins, from which it is commercially extracted. The manufacturing of grape seed extract to a specific level of OPC is highly specialized, resulting in a biologically active, beneficial product.

In brief, here are the health benefits of OPC, as determined in various clinical studies:

• Acts as a superior antioxidant, protecting cells in the body against destruction by free radicals.

• Reduces LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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• Reduces platelet aggregation, thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis.

• Increases the strength and elasticity of blood vessels, protecting against rupture, leakage and degeneration.

• Enhances the ability of collagen to repair itself, thereby protecting against age-related and degenerative processes.

• Inhibits swelling (edema) and inflammation.

• Relieves functional problems of varicose veins.

• Reduces discomfort associated with PMS and menopause.

• Reduces the tendency toward diabetic retinopathy.

• Improves skin health by reducing damage, increasing nutrient supply and improving elasticity.

OPC is rapidly absorbed, and quickly distributed throughout the body. As a free radical fighter, OPC comes to the aid of the body more quickly than other antioxidants, thereby reducing the potential for free radical damage and the ravages of aging. OPC is a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin C in scavenging oxygen-free radicals in the body. Plus, OPC has a sparing effect on vitamin C by blocking the action of ascorbate oxydase, the enzyme that destroys vitamin C. OPC is a more effective antioxidant than vitamin E, because it can scavenge more free radicals.

OPC prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol by scavenging oxidative free radicals. As a result of this activity, OPC helps to prevent the build-up of oxidized cholesterol on artery walls. Acting in this way, OPC goes after the root cause of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, OPC modifies the activity of hormone-like factors which prevent platelets from clumping together and forming a dangerous clot. In two important ways, OPC helps to prevent the primary causes of heart attack and stroke.

But that isn't all OPC does to help keep the cardiovascular system healthy. OPC actually strengthens collagen in vascular walls, making vessels stronger and more elastic. OPC alters the membrane receptor conformation of vascular walls, reducing the damaging effects of the destructive enzymes elastase, collagenase and hyaluronidase, by preventing them from attaching to and degrading vascular walls. OPC further prevents destruction of vascular walls by preventing attachment to membranes by histamine and hyaluronidase, both of which can decrease the strength of vessel walls. Thus, in addition to preventing the root causes of vessel occlusion, OPC strengthens vessels, thereby reducing the risk of a rupture or hemorrhage. Thus OPC helps to prevent and relieve conditions of vascular fragility including hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and spider veins.

OPC also reduces high blood pressure by inhibiting the activity of ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme). This is the same mode of action by which prescription anti-hypertensive drugs work. Further working in a manner which supports total vascular health, OPC improves the strength of fine vessels, or capillaries, and helps to prevent leakage of blood cells and fluids. It is also effective in relieving varicosities and venous insufficiency, and strengthens capillary walls in the legs, effectively reducing venous problems.

In the body, there are many types of tissue. One type, connective tissue, binds together and is the support of the various structures of the body. Skin, tendons, bones and cartilage are all made of connective tissue, which contains as one of its primary constituents a white fibrous protein called collagen. In this role, collagen is one of the most important agents in the body, for it literally holds us together.

Connective tissue starts out supple and strong early in life, and becomes brittle and weak due to age and exposure to environmental factors such as sun, wind, smoke and pollutants. We have all seen the contrast between the smooth, clear, soft skin of an infant and the wrinkled, spotted, parchment-like skin of an elderly person. The latter is the result of time, wear, and specific biological occurrences which are lumped together under the general heading of "aging."

The integrity of collagen-based tissue is due to what is known as "cross-linking." Collagen forms delicate strands known as microfibrils. These strands intertwine in pairs, almost like twisted rope. Between the intertwined strands are fibrous links made of collagen, much like the steps between two standing poles of a ladder; thus cross-linking. Adequate cross-linking is necessary to maintain the structural integrity of the body. On the other hand, oxidation causes excessive cross-linking, which leads to brittle, stiff tissue. In skin, excessive cross-linking manifests as wrinkles and sagging skin. In the case of collagen, OPC plays a dual role. On the one hand, it helps to ensure adequate cross-linking. On the other hand, as a potent antioxidant it effectively fights the adverse biological conditions which result in excessive cross-linking.

As a collagen-promoter, OPC strengthens collagen protein, affixing to vascular walls, thus enhancing vascular integrity by literally becoming part of the tissue structure. When OPC binds to collagen, it modifies the vulnerability of connective tissue membranes, making it more difficult for destructive enzymes in the body to cause damage. One such enzyme is collagenase, which breaks down collagen fibers. OPC prevents the degradation of collagen by the enzyme collagenase. OPC makes collagen resistant to the activity of collagenase by binding tightly to soluble collagen fibers and altering receptor sites so that the enzyme cannot bind to the protein and break it down. OPC also enhances the ability of collagen to repair itself, thereby helping to protect it against degenerative processes and harmful agents.

Studies of OPC show total biological activity without toxicity. Toxic effects have not been observed, despite decades of use and intensive research into the most minute aspects of OPC's activities in the body. It can be said with assuredness that OPC is a safe, beneficial agent with great value in the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of health conditions.

Look for brands that specify OPC value. For general health and well-being, an average daily dose of 100 - 200 milligrams of OPC is appropriate. For specific therapeutic purposes, dosages of 300 milligrams or more may be required. If you are dealing with a particular health problem, you are best advised to consult a physician who can help monitor your progress. For while self health care is a sane and sensible practice, medical specialists are needed in cases of cardiovascular disease, edema, diabetic retinopathy, and many of the other conditions for which OPC is proven beneficial.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at www.MedicineHunter.com

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