Are you taking advantage of all the benefits of resveratrol for your patients?
Resveratrol began drawing worldwide attention when researchers in the 1990s were looking to understand the unusually low rates of cardiovascular disease in France despite the high intake of fat and red wine among the French people (known as the French Paradox).
Resveratrol is a type of flavonoid found in grape skins, peanuts, and a variety of plants, with the most abundant source being found in Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum). Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and phytoestrogen.
Novel areas of interest
There are hundreds of scientific articles that reference resveratrol as researchers continue to explore the numerous physiological pathways influenced by this intriguing compound. One study of healthy subjects found taking 200 mg of Polygonum cuspidatum extract (PCE) containing 40 mg of resveratrol for six weeks resulted in anti- inflammatory and antioxidant effects by increased expression of sirtuin (SIRT1).1 This human gene, SIRT1, enhances mitochondrial function and is thought to promote longevity.
A 2014 study published in the British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery that looked at the effect of resveratrol on normal and osteoarthritic chondrocytes and found resveratrol treatment led to significant upregulation of SIRT1 and increased expression of collagen (COL10) in both groups.2 Treatment with resveratrol also led to an increase in aggrecan, also known as cartilage-specific proteoglycan core protein (CSPCP), in normal chondrocytes.
CSPCP is the major proteoglycan in articular cartilage, essential to joint function in that it provides a hydrated gel structure that facilitates the load-bearing properties of the joint.3 If running is part of your daily routine, you might want to consider adding some resveratrol as part of your healthy joint maintenance protocols.
The ability to support neuronal health is another exciting area of exploration for resveratrol applications. It was not so long ago that neurologists believed neuronal regeneration was impossible. We now know differently and there are ways to reduce neuronal oxidative stress and prevent cell death.
As mentioned above, resveratrol is a SIRT1 activator. In 2012, researchers found that resveratrol activation of SIRT1 reduced the levels of reactive oxygen species and promoted mitochondrial function in stressed retinal ganglion cells, which resulted in deceased cell loss.4
These results suggest resveratrol, as a SIRT1 activator, may offer neuro-protective effects in cases of optic neuritis. This is especially important for anyone with multiple sclerosis, because optic neuritis is an inflammatory condition that can lead to axonal loss and decreased vision.
Resveratrol has also been shown to have anticancer (antineoplastic) and chemo-protective effects. Anticancer researchers have shown resveratrol inhibits the proliferation of a wide variety of tumor cells including lymphoid and myeloid cancers, multiple myeloma, cancers of the breast, prostate, stomach, colon, pancreas, and thyroid, as well as ovarian and cervical carcinomas.5
The activation of caspases and mediation of cell-cycle arrest are thought to be one of the mechanisms through which resveratrol exerts its growth-inhibitory effects on tumor lines. It specifically inhibits the inflammatory transcription factor of NF- kappaB (NF-kB) and down-regulates COX-2, 5-LOX, VEGF, IL-1, IL-6, and IL-8.
If you are interested in oncological applications, there is no shortage of reading material and you can find excellent reviews that further examine the molecular mechanisms by which resveratrol exhibits its anticancer and chemo-preventive properties.
Who else might benefit from resveratrol? Because most diseases are linked to chronic inflammation, the list of potential resveratrol applications is long and growing. Ongoing research is looking at resveratrol applications in immunology, endocrinology, cardiology, and more. A small study, lasting four weeks, found daily supplementation of resveratrol led to decreased blood sugar levels and blood sugar spikes and increased insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes.6
Earlier this year, an animal study explored the impact of resveratrol on meta-flammation—the chronic inflammation caused by metabolic cells in response to excess nutrients and energy as seen in obesity. Researchers found resveratrol significantly improved blood glucose and triglyceride levels in obese controls as well as reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines.7
An animal study found oral administration of 5 mg per kilogram per day of resveratrol for four months significantly improved hyperglycemia, weight loss, and oxidative markers in both blood and retinas of diabetic rats.8
In addition, resveratrol supplementation lowered elevated retinal NF- kB activity and cell death rates. As nearly every integrative clinician is on the lookout for additional tools to prevent the organ damage seen in diabetic cases, resveratrol could be a good addition to your prevention protocol in these patients.
Tina Beaudoin, ND, is a medical educator for Emerson Ecologics, a distributor of professional nutritional supplements to healthcare practitioners. She also enjoys maintaining a naturopathic family practice and is president of the New Hampshire Association of Naturopathic Doctors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Ghanim H, Sia CL, Abuaysheh S, et al. An antiinflammatory and reactive oxygen species suppressive effects of an extract of Polygonum cuspidatum containing resveratrol. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95(9):E1-8. Epub 2010 Jun 9.
2 Kim HJ, Braun HJ, Dragoo JL. The effect of resveratrol on normal and osteoarthritic chondrocyte metabolism. Bone Joint Res. 2014;3(3):51-9. doi: 10.1302/2046- 3758.33.2000226.
3 Kiani C, Chen L, Wu YJ, Yee AJ, Yang BB. Structure and function of aggrecan. Cell Res. 2002;12(1):19-32.
4 Khan RS, Fonseca-Kelly Z, et al. SIRT1 activating compounds reduce oxidative stress and prevent cell death in neuronal cells. Front Cell Neurosci. 2012;31;6:63.
5 Aggarwal BB, Bhwardwaj A, et al. Role of resveratrol in prevention and therapy of cancer: preclinical and clinical trials. Anticancer Res. 2004;24(5A):2783-840.
6 Brasnyo P, Molnar GA, et al. Resveratrol improves insulin sensitivity, reduces oxidative stress and activates the Akt pathway in type 2 diabetic patients. Br J Nutr. 2011;106(3):383-9. Epub2011 Mar 9.
7 Yang SJ, Lim Y.Resveratrol ameliorates hepatic metaflammation and inhibits NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Metabolism. 2014;63(5):693-701.
8 Soufi FG, Mohammad-Nejad D, et al. Resveratrol improves diabetic retinopathy possibly through oxidative stress- nuclear factor KB- apoptosis pathway. Pharmacol Rep. 2012;64(6):1505-14.