Magazine article Drug Topics

Purple Power

Magazine article Drug Topics

Purple Power

Article excerpt

Scientists tout benefits of grape seed extract

More and more scientists are extolling the benefits of grape seed extracts as potent antioxidants that seem to help foster the good cells and inhibit the bad.

One extract, Activin (proanthocyanidin), may proffer an effective antidote to severe liver damage caused by an acetaminophen overdose, said Sidhartha D. Ray, Ph.D., professor at Long Island University's Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy. In animal trials, he and colleagues exposed male mice to nontoxic doses of the grape seed extract, followed by toxic doses of acetaminophen three and seven days later. The seven-day preexposure afforded "remarkable protection-almost 100%"against liver damage, based on blood, tissue, and DNA measures, Ray said.

DNA studies also indicated that, compared with the control group, mice treated with the extract exhibited an 80% to 90% decrease in the DNA damage to liver cells caused by toxic acetaminophen levels, Ray reported at the April 21 Experimental Biology '98 meeting in San Francisco. Based on these preliminary findings, he speculated that the extract may work at the genetic level to strengthen the cell's natural ability to cope with chemical threats to its health and vitality.

Manufactured by InterHealth Nutritionals, the extract is sold as a nutritional ingredient in various dietary supplements, health foods, and beverages, including Sundowner Vitamins, Nature's Bounty, and Natrol, according to William A. Seroy, founder and president.

Other studies suggest the product may also protect normal human liver cells against the destructive effects of two anticancer chemotherapy agentsidarubicin and 4-HC. Using cultures of healthy human liver cells, researchers at Creighton University and the University of Nebraska, Omaha, tested the extract's protective effects against the two drugs-which often cause nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, and anemia-and reported encouraging results.

Researchers have also found that the extract inhibits and possibly even kills human cancer cells while increasing the growth and viability of normal healthy cells. …

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