A handful of studies have indicated isolated resveratrol may benefit obese or abnormal rats and unhealthy humans. And a few population studies have associated resveratrol-containing foods and wine with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. But this clinical study clearly illustrates that the science of resveratrol is more complicated than originally considered.
The study was randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled. The researchers gave 29 healthy women – with no sign of heart disease of diabetes – 75 milligrams of resveratrol supplement per day or a placebo for twelve weeks. None of the women were obese.
Seventy-five milligrams per day of isolated resveratrol would be equivalent to drinking more than eight bottles of wine per day.
After the twelve weeks, the researchers found that the resveratrol group showed no improvement of cholesterol, inflammation, heart rate, blood pressure or weight. They also found no evidence of improved liver function, improvements in glucose tolerance or insulin sensitivity – signs of diabetes prevention. There were neither any cellular function benefits seen in the resveratrol group.
The researchers concluded that the results “demonstrate that resveratrol supplementation does not have beneficial metabolic effects in nonobese, postmenopausal women with normal glucose tolerance.”
The research was led by Samuel Klein, M.D., a Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science Director at the Washington University School of Medicine, located in St. Louis.
Dr. Klein stated that while abnormal rodents may benefit from resveratrol, there is no evidence of benefit to healthy people.
“Few studies have evaluated the effects of resveratrol in people. Those studies were conducted in people with diabetes, older adults with impaired glucose tolerance or obese people who had more metabolic problems than the women we studied. So it is possible that resveratrol could have beneficial effects in people who are more metabolically abnormal than the subjects who participated in the study,” stated Dr. Klein.
Dr. Klein also suggested that since some of the research utilized foods or wine showing benefit to humans, that resveratrol may act in conjunction with other plant nutrients. He suggested that “this does not preclude the possibility that resveratrol could have a synergistic effect when combined with other compounds.”
The bottom line is that once again, modern medicine has proven that when you isolate a plant compound from the whole plant, you miss out on many of the health benefits of the plant, and the compound may not produce the same result. This lesson has been taught repeatedly over the past century of pharmaceutical medicine, as nearly two-thirds of today’s pharmaceuticals were originally derived by isolating plant compounds.
Once the plant compounds were isolated, many continued to treat a particular condition, but most also produced unintended adverse side effects that consuming the whole plant never produced. When will we learn that nature has combined synergistic compounds into plants and other natural elements? The reason the plants these isolated chemicals are derived from do not produce the same side effects is that plants contain sometimes hundreds of other compounds that buffer and balance the effects of the active ingredient isolated.
The benefits of resveratrol when found among the multitude of other plant compounds in grapes, berries, peanuts, pistachio nuts and other plants are well established. These plants provide a myriad of other benefits. There is no need to rearrange nature in order to utilize natural medicine.
Written by Case Adams, Naturopath
Yoshino J, Conte C, Fontana L, Mittendorfer B, Imai SI, Schechtman KB, Gu C, Kunz I, Fanelli FR, Patterson BW, Klein S. Resveratrol Supplementation Does Not Improve Metabolic Function in Nonobese Women with Normal Glucose Tolerance. Cell Metab. 2012 Oct 23. doi:pii: S1550-4131(12)00399-3.
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