Resveratrol Claims Premature and Products Unreliable
What is resveratrol and does it support good health or is it effective medicine? It certainly is a popular and strongly advertised supplement.
The claims about resveratrol are substantial; claims of effectiveness include a long list of conditions:
age-related macular degeneration, allergy, Alzheimer’s disease, amyloidosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, atherosclerosis, cerebral ischemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cognitive disorders (cognitive impairment), degenerative diseases, diabetic neuropathy, diabetic wound healing, edema, Epstein-Barr virus, hearing loss, Helicobacter pylori infection, herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, HIV, hormonal imbalances, hypercholesterolemia, ischemia-reperfusion injury prevention, leukemia, medulloblastoma, melanoma, menopausal symptoms, multiple myeloma, multiple sclerosis, nephrotoxicity, neuroblastoma, neuropathy, neuroprotection, pain, pancreatitis, Parkinson’s disease, premature aging, renal impairment (protection), rheumatoid arthritis, seizure, skin disorders, spinal cord injury, stroke.
And… the claimed beneficial actions of resveratrol include: antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiplatelet, anti-tumor agent, antiviral, bone density, cancer prevention, chemoprotectant, immunomodulator, lipid lowering effects, lung cancer prevention, vasorelaxant, wound healing.
That is a very long list of claimed benefits! What do we know that resveratrol does for human health? Nothing – at least not yet.
Resveratrol was discovered in red wine and thought to be an explanation for the French paradox (the French have a low rate of coronary heart disease in spite of diet rich in saturated fats). However, the amount of resveratrol found in red wine is very small and the beneficial effects of red wine may be due purely to the alcohol or to the wide array of phytochemical compounds found in red wine.
Since the discovery of resveratrol there have been numerous test tube experiments that show it has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-cancer activity in the test tube. However, it is not known if these effects extend to humans when it is ingested.
One of the factors that causes researchers to question resveratrol’s beneficial effects in humans is that, although it is well-absorbed, the body quickly metabolizes (changes) resveratrol and excretes it.
Another concern about resveratrol is that its manufacture is not well controlled or standardized – it is difficult to know if what you purchase is the same as what is beneficial in the test tube.
Resveratrol may prove to be an effective antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer agent, but at this time the research is not strong enough to support these claims and resveratrol product variability makes it difficult to rely on for substantial clinical benefit.