A Look into the Benefits of Resveratrol
OCTOBER 2023 | Dr. Ashley Southern
A Look into the Benefits of Resveratrol
In the world of naturopathic supplementation and holistic health, resveratrol is emerging as an incredibly powerful nutrient. Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol (a group of naturally-occurring plant-based compounds well known for their antioxidant properties) and is naturally found in peanuts, berries, and the skin of red grapes; it’s what gives red wine its boost of antioxidant and cardiovascular health benefits! Growing research into resveratrol has revealed just how powerful and widespread its health benefits are, as studies show it has significant antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties, and helps to fight against heart disease. Further, it has gained recognition for its potential in helping to support various autoimmune dysfunctions, has significant anti-aging properties, promotes effective immune responses throughout the body, and has even been seen to lower cholesterol levels.
The Benefits of Resveratrol
Fights Inflammation and Autoimmunity
Autoimmune disorders are caused when the immune system attacks its own body. It mistakes healthy tissue as bacteria or a virus and tries to fight it. This often leads to an increase of inflammation as the immune system attacks healthy cells, which can result in tissue damage, cell degeneration, and prevent vital bodily systems from functioning properly.
Studies have shown that resveratrol modulates inflammatory pathways throughout the body. It works to inhibit the activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-KB), a transcription factor that induces inflammatory responses. Resveratrol also plays a role in regulating inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and T cell production, all of which are highly associated with causing inflammation. By downregulating NF-KB, resveratrol helps to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), and therefore decrease the amount of inflammation caused by an autoimmune attack.
Further, resveratrol has antioxidant properties, which enhances its anti-inflammatory effects. Oxidative stress is highly associated with causing inflammation; it produces reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can cause tissue damage and trigger inflammatory responses. Resveratrol’s antioxidative nature protects cells from oxidative stress and tissue damage and helps to reverse the effects of ROS.
Some common autoimmune diseases that resveratrol has shown promising benefits include:
Rheumatoid arthritis: resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties may help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Studies found that it helped to modulate immune responses, decrease inflammatory responses, mitigate joint pain and stiffness, and showed potential in slowing the progression of symptoms commonly associated with arthritis.
Systemic lupus: resveratrol’s antioxidant properties can help to neutralize ROS and reduce oxidative stress, which has been seen to help manage symptoms and reduce lupus flares.
Psoriasis: psoriasis is often caused by a buildup of inflammatory T cells in the skin. Resveratrol can downregulate T cell production and decrease inflammation, which can help to decrease psoriasis plaques and promote healthier skin.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: inflammation and overgrowths of bad bacteria within the intestines and GI tract are well-known causers of IBS. Not only does resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory nature help to decrease inflammation, but it is also known to promote gut health by increasing good bacterial growth within the gastrointestinal tract. This can help fight the overgrowths of bad bugs and inflammation commonly associated with IBS.
Type 1 diabetes: resveratrol has been seen to promote insulin uptake and improve insulin resistance, improve glycemic responses by improving glucose metabolism, and help regulate blood sugar levels, all of which can help manage and support symptoms associated with type 1 diabetes.
Powerful Anti-Aging Properties
Resveratrol has gained significant attention for its anti-aging benefits. Its ability to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation can help slow down symptoms related to aging, and promote vitality and longevity. This includes:
Cellular protection: oxidative stress and the general wear and tear that occurs naturally as we age can weaken the structural integrity of our cells’ walls and cause mitochondrial damage. This impacts vital bodily functions at a cellular level, which can accelerate symptoms commonly associated with aging. Resveratrol works to protect our cells from damage caused by oxidative stress and free radicals. It also helps to build and maintain cellular wall structure, which can improve the look and health of tissues including skin and hair, and lead to improved overall functionality of the body as a whole. Studies have also shown that resveratrol activates the SIRT1 gene, which helps protect the body against the effects of aging and obesity.
Cardiovascular health: a lot of research has gone into the heart-healthy benefits of resveratrol. It promotes healthy blood vessels by reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of clots. Resveratrol increases nitric oxide production, which helps to relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and improve circulation. This makes it an effective preventative against heart disease, a leading cause of age-related health issues.
Cognitive function: brain cells are especially susceptible to mitochondrial dysfunction to their high demand of ATP in order to power our entire body. Further, because of their high consumption of oxygen, they are often linked to increased risk of oxidative stress and ROS. Resveratrol’s antiviral and antioxidative properties, combined with its ability to enhance cellular strength and mitochondrial function, suggests resveratrol may help to support brain health and cognitive function. One study found that daily supplementation of resveratrol over the course of 26 weeks significantly improved hippocampal function, improved glucose uptake and blood sugar levels, and enhanced cognitive and memory performance, all factors that are particularly imperative as the body ages (Witte AV, 2014).
High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol are known to increase the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular dysfunction. LDL is commonly referred to as the bad cholesterol because it collects on the walls of blood vessels, which impacts proper blood flow. Resveratrol has been seen to lower cholesterol levels and improve vascular function in two ways:
Cholesterol regulation: studies have shown that resveratrol lowers cholesterol levels by reducing the effects of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA reductase), an enzyme that controls cholesterol production.
Anti-atherosclerosis properties: atherosclerosis is the build up of fats, cholesterol, and other clogging substances within the arterial walls. This buildup is known as plaque. Symptoms generally present themselves with age, and can include coronary heart disease, clots, chest pain, high blood pressure, and increased risk of stroke. Resveratrol’s antioxidative and pro-vascular properties not only promote improved blood flow but also help to decrease oxidation of LDL cholesterol. LDL oxidation is highly associated with causing plaque buildup on arterial walls. One study showed that within 6 months, resveratrol lowered LDL cholesterol levels by 4.5%, and oxidized LDL levels decreased by 20% (Tomé-Carneiro J, 2012).
Supplementation: How to Incorporate Resveratrol into Your Life
One of the biggest challenges of resveratrol is how highly digestible it is. Resveratrol is rapidly metabolized by the liver, kidneys, and digestive tract, making it difficult to ensure you’re providing your body with sufficient amounts in order to unlock its full list of potential benefits.
The most common form of taking resveratrol is oral supplementation. Resveratrol comes in many forms including capsules and liquid extracts. Taking resveratrol supplements allows for easy self-administration and is easily digestible by the body. However, it is metabolized quickly by the digestive tract and liver, which can mean that once passed the digestive system, there are minimal amounts left that actually make it into the bloodstream.
Growing research has looked into the benefits of resveratrol IV therapy, where resveratrol is administered with IV saline into the bloodstream. Due to its highly metabolic nature, this method can be particularly effective for resveratrol. IV therapies are known to provide higher bioavailability because they bypass the digestive system, which optimizes the dosage by ensuring that 100% of the resveratrol enters the bloodstream and is delivered to the cells that need it.
When deciding whether you could benefit from resveratrol, we encourage you to consider your own unique needs and put your health goals first, and consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable option. At Nascent Health, we would love to sit down and talk with you about whether resveratrol is right for you! With ongoing research and exploration, resveratrol continues to reveal its potential as a powerful natural remedy for numerous health concerns, and offers hope for a healthier and more vibrant future.
Tomé-Carneiro J, G. M.-A.-P.-G.-R.-C.-B. (2012). Consumption of a grape extract supplement containing resveratrol decreases oxidized LDL and ApoB in patients undergoing primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a triple-blind, 6-month follow-up, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22648627/
Witte AV, K. L. (2014). Effects of resveratrol on memory performance, hippocampal functional connectivity, and glucose metabolism in healthy older adults. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24899709/