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Grape Seed for Acne
Grape seed extract is believed to be a potential acne cure. Does grape seed gel and extract actually help with controlling acne?
There are many different treatment options for acne.
The most common involve harsh abrasives, chemicals, and antibiotics. Abrasives and chemicals can cause skin irritation in some people that makes them less than ideal for everyday use, and antibiotics can cause severe stomach discomfort and drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
While they're all potential options for acne, many try to go a more natural route. One proposed treatment is grape seed for acne, both in supplement form and in lotion/oil form.
As the name implies, grape seed is the seed of pressed grapes. Generally, the supposedly beneficial components of grape seed are extracted from the seed itself, often by crushing the grapes and removing any oils that come out as a result.
Studies have shown that grape seed has a high concentration of several important minerals, including flavonoids, vitamin E, and lineolic acid.
Many herbal medicine supporters have linked some of the qualities of grape seed with potential health benefits. For example, some believe that extract from the seeds may protect teeth from sugar damage, and that some of the antioxidants may protect against certain types of cancer.
Studies have not yet shown any significant side effects of taking grape seed, either in the short or long term. However, it should be noted that no longitudinal studies have tested grape seed as a long term supplement.
Many people use grape seed for acne.
It may be used in two ways. Some choose to take it as a supplement. Others use grape seed oil in both homemade and store bought facial cleansers and solutions to rid themselves of acne.
There is no evidence that oral grape seed has any effect on acne, and indeed most grape seed supplement suppliers state as much, often referring to grape seed oral supplements as a "complement" to some type of grape seed cleanser. It's highly unlikely that there is any medicinal benefit to adding grape seed supplements to your daily regimen.
It is possible that grape seed oil may reduce the appearance of acne.
Yet there is no much data to support or refute this theory. A study published in Dermatologic Surgery entitled "Cosmeceuticals Containing Herbs: Fact, Fiction, and Future," found that while grape seed was noted as a potential cure for acne, there were no studies indicating whether it was effective.
Grape seed extract for acne may still be effective, however, because it is rich in linoleic acid. A study in the University of Liège in Belgium noted that one of the causes of acne may be a low linoleic acid content in skin oil. They found that those that used a topical linoleic acid treatment on their skin found a reduction in the size of their open follicles by as much as 25% compared to placebo.
A study by Kansai Medical University in Japan found something similar. They found that while linoleic acid is unlikely to be a strong cause of acne, it is likely that low levels of linoleic acid allow more inflammation to occur, presumably making acne look worse.
The problem is that none of these studies appear to have address grape seed extract directly, nor have noted whether or not this has an effect on acne, and how much of an effect that may be. Without such studies, it remains a mystery whether or not grape seed oil has any effect on acne.
Another potential link between grape seed and acne may be in skin healing.
Dermatologists are quick to note that in many cases of visually severe acne, it is the scars themselves that appear to make the acne more pronounced. Popping acne and acne cuts tend to linger as visibly red scars, and until these scars heal it can give the appearance of more acne despite no additional acne being present.
At Ohio State University, they tested grape seed and its effects on wound healing. They found that wounds being treated with grape seed appeared to be healing faster than wounds that were healing normally. Blood vessels appeared to regenerate faster and grape seed seemed to help oxidize these wounds in order to allow new skin to thrive.
While the study was not specific to grape seed for acne, one can presume that wound healing works similarly. Acne scars could, in theory, heal more quickly, giving the appearance of less acne and an overall better complexion.
However, because this research did not study the effects of grape seed for acne specifically, it's difficult to know whether these effects carry over. Some cleansing oils can actually contribute to more acne, because the oil itself simply creates a better environment for bacteria. So even if some of the ingredients of grape seed oil have benefits, the oil itself may be problematic for dealing with acne.
As usual with many herbal solutions, there needs to be more controlled studies before any conclusion can be drawn. Nevertheless, there are signs that grape seed oil may be beneficial for controlling acne scarring.
According to all available research, grape seed is a safe extract that contains a great deal of healthy vitamins and minerals. It has a considerable amount of antioxidants and a great deal of research is being conducted on the benefits of grape seed oil as an extract.
There is some research that indicates that acne and grape seed may be linked, and that grape seed for acne may be beneficial.
Yet this research is very clearly only in the preliminary stages, and while it seems promising that there is a link between the extracts of grape seed and acne, right now most of them are inferred rather than proven. Linoleic acid, for example, may be beneficial in reducing acne, but until grape seed extract specifically is tested, it is difficult to know if the benefit remains.
Still, grape seed oil seems relatively harmless and can be purchased and used fairly easily. With such little risk, it may be something to consider trying on your acne to see if in the end there is any noticeable difference on either your acne or your acne scars.
LETAWE, BOONE and PIÉRARD (1998), Digital image analysis of the effect of topically applied linoleic acid on acne microcomedones. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 23: 56–58. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2230.1998.00315.x
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