- Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine and berries, displayed potential activity against Alzheimer’s disease in preliminary clinical trials.
- Despite indications of resveratrol’s potential benefits against diseases related to aging, substantiation from human studies is needed.
- The recent study suggests that high-dose, pharmaceutical-grade resveratrol can penetrate the brains of individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s and possibly stabilize levels of a protein associated with the disease’s progression.
- There is no reliable way to determine the quantity of resveratrol in supplements, and consuming red wine is not an equivalent substitute, as the study doses were equivalent to around 1000 bottles of red wine daily.
- While larger, advanced-stage trials of resveratrol are in progression, experts recommend Alzheimer’s patients continue with their current treatment plans and discuss with their doctor before adding any kind of supplement.
In a preliminary clinical trial, high quantities of resveratrol—a compound naturally occurring in red wine and berries—displayed possible activity against Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Resveratrol?
As an antioxidant, resveratrol serves as a protective barrier for plants against environmental stress. When humans consume red grapes, dark chocolate, berries, or red wine, they ingest small portions of the compound. Despite indications from laboratory research suggesting resveratrol’s potential benefits against diseases related to aging, including Alzheimer’s disease, there has been a lack of substantiation from human studies.
A New Study and Its Findings
The fresh study put forth the first suggestion that large-dose, pharmaceutical-grade resveratrol can infiltrate the brains of individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s—and possibly stabilize levels of a protein associated with the disease’s progression.
However, the research did not confirm whether patient symptoms actually remained steady. The trial’s primary aim was to assess the safety and feasibility of administering such high doses of resveratrol to Alzheimer’s patients.
Dr. R. Scott Turner, the senior researcher from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., concluded that larger and longer trials are required for confirming whether this treatment can, indeed, slow Alzheimer’s progression. He posits that although the compound seems to be safe and able to enter the brain, it is not time to endorse it as an Alzheimer’s treatment.
Resveratrol supplements may have become a staple product in many health food stores. Still, there is no reliable method to determine the exact quantity of the compound, if any, these products contain. Further, Turner cautions that consuming red wine is not a suitable substitute for the treatment because the study’s doses were equivalent to around 1000 bottles of red wine daily.
The Future of Resveratrol Research
James Hendrix, Alzheimer’s Association’s Director of Global Science Initiatives, deems the findings “encouraging” and urges the need for more comprehensive studies.
According to him, only time shall reveal if resveratrol can effectively slow dementia’s progression.
Hendrix and Turner both suggest that adequate amounts of natural resveratrol from food might not become reasonably available in the human body, calling for larger, extended studies.
The Safety Aspect:
During the study, the more common symptoms constituted of nausea and diarrhea, which bothered 42% of the resveratrol group and a third of the placebo group. Some resveratrol recipients also underwent weight loss, a potentially troubling sign.
While a larger, advanced-stage trial of resveratrol is on the horizon, the experts urge Alzheimer’s patients to continue with their treatment plans and recommend discussing with their doctor about adding any kind of supplement.
For preventing Alzheimer’s, though there may not be a “magic pill,” Hendrix suggests lifestyle choices that could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Some of these choices include a healthy diet, regular mental and physical exercise.
In his own words, Hendrix concludes, “What’s good for your heart is also good for your brain.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers more on lowering Alzheimer’s risk.