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Time to reverse course with resveratrol?

It’s been an interesting week in the news for resveratrol. On the one hand, a new publication on how resveratrol affects the brain came out, adding to the very few clinical trials on the use of it as a supplement. On the other, Glaxo halted a clinical trial on resveratrol over safety concerns. Meanwhile, my piece in Web MD ( garnered quite a lot of attention and brings us back to the question of whether we aren’t just better off drinking wine instead anyway.

As I have mused about here before, clinical trial data on the use of resveratrol is all but absent, and what there is tends to show that it isn’t very well absorbed. So anyone bringing some clinical science to the field is to be congratulated. The study out this week actually measured blood flow to the brain during cognitive tasks, in other words things require thinking and concentration. Resveratrol improved blood flow and raised levels of the type of hemoglobin that has released its oxygen, implying higher oxygen extraction in the brain and therefore more processing power. The study was done in comparison to a placebo group, an important requirement for objectivity. The association of wine and IQ has long been known, whether it is due to smart people preferring wine or wine making people smart, so this study would add evidence to the latter explanation.

Not many people even thought about taking resveratrol supplements, however, until a few years ago when it was reported to activate enzymes known as sirtuins, which are involved in enhancing longevity. The biotech company Sirtris was founded to exploit this phenomenon, and was acquired by Glaxo a short time later. They soon developed several derivatives for treatment of cancer, diabetes, and other conditions, and clinical trials were launched on several fronts. This week a trial of resveratrol as an adjunctive treatment for a type of cancer called multiple myeloma was halted because of adverse safety events. However, the condition, a problem with the kidneys, is known to occur with the disease and seems unlikely to be related to the resveratrol. Nonetheless, it was a setback for those awaiting more potent versions of resveratrol to come to market.

For now, I’ll continue to take my medicine in liquid form, with dinner.


  1. After seeing 60 minutes of the NBC coverage about resveratrol; I got information about trans resveratrol and its beneficial effects to the human body, especially in curing age-related diseases. It increases one's longevity and enhances disease protection by activating an inactive gene called "Sirtuin 1"

    That is the reason why people want to buy resveratrol. But it would be better if the consumption of resveratrol is complemented with proper diet and lifestyle.


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