In this series we explore the ingredients in Natural Alchemy’s Yoga Formula – why they are good for the yogi, where they come from and what research has been done to support the merits of each ingredient.
Grape Seed Extract for the Yogi
Grape seed is known to be a super antioxidant, more potent than Vitamins C and E. Antioxidants are essential in the human body as they keep us healthy and youthful by preventing biological rusting created by the outspread of free radicals in the cell.
Yoga in itself is an antioxidant, (1) boosting immunity and reducing the production of stress hormones as proven in one study published by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2012.
The study involved two groups whereby one group practiced yoga for 40 minutes daily and the other group not practicing yoga at all. In the course of the 12-week study blood samples were regularly collected from the participants. The group that regularly practiced yoga significantly improved the antioxidant levels in their body.
So why is grape seed extract a key ingredient in the Natural Alchemy Yoga Formula if yoga already does the job?
Because we need good vein function and healthy blood flow when mastering the asanas. Grape seed extract is not just an antioxidant. Along with several other benefits, it has also been tested in treating Chronic venuous insufficiency (CVI) – a condition that makes it difficult for the blood to return to the heart from the legs. Grape seed extract is thought to reduce pain and swelling on the legs and ankles, as well as easing aches and cramps, allowing us to go deeper into practice.
Because we need good vein function and healthy blood flow when mastering the asanas.
The discovery of Grape Seed Extract
Unlike boswellia and curcumin which both have long histories in Ayurveda, the discovery of grape seed extract is relatively recent.
In 1951 French researcher Jacques Masquelier patented the method of extracting a potent compound present in the bark of a pine tree. He called this compound Oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPC). Later, it was discovered that OPC is also present in the grape seed and in 1970 Masquelier found a way to successfully extract OPC from grape seeds (2). The grape seed extracts would later be introduced to the French market which sold significantly better than pine bark products.
A bigger story comes before the extraction of OPC, however. In 1536, centuries earlier, explorer Jacques Cartier set off from France to lay claim to foreign lands – what we now know as Canada. (3) Cartier and his men were stranded due to a severe winter. Eventually scurvy broke out and the lack of Vitamin C took several lives.
Cartier’s journal is reported to have noted: “Out of 110 that we were, not ten were well enough to help the others, a pitiful thing to see”. A native man had told Cartier that a brew from the spruce tree (belonging to the conifer tree family, same as pine) could help his men. And it did. The Frenchmen are famously known to have used the bark of an entire tree and miraculously went on the mend.
Masquelier’s research on OPC was largely inspired by the story of Cartier and the astonishing recovery of his men.
Grape Seed Extract in alternative and Modern Medicines
Grape seed extract acts as a free radical scavenger in the human body, repairing damaged molecules in the human cell. This ‘free radical scavenger’ is what we commonly call an antioxidant.
Although OPC is known for delivering a host of benefits, it’s most recognised for its antioxidant activities which (4) may help prevent premature ageing and certain diseases such as chronic venous insufficiency, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and cancer.
A journal of clinical therapeutics called the Alternative Medicine Review published in 2000 that (5) ‘considerable recent research has explored therapeutic applications of OPCs […] to demonstrate antibacterial, antiviral, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and vasodilatory (wideing of blood vessels for better circulation) actions.
To make Yoga Formula even more effective, we’ve also involved resveratrol – an active constituent found in grape skins that protect the fruit against fungal diseases and sun damage. In the human body it is considered to help slow the process of skin ageing, treat heart diseases, prevent cancer and aid in improving brain functions.