The latest Gah-Gah term is RESVERATROL — a word that conveys the magical enchantment of everlasting life, strength in old age and the defeat of every bad disease known to mankind. But, most people have a doubt in their mind – How true is all this hype?
Guess what? It might be true. Here are some of the facts as they have accumulated in the scientific literature so far..
1. Resveratrol extends life.
2. Resveratrol protects against cancer.
3. Resveratrol prevents diabetes.
4. Resveratrol protects the heart.
5. Resveratrol protects the nervous system.
It is obvious that if Resveratrol does 2,3,4,and 5, then it will extend life.
WHAT DO WE KNOW?
In Nature, combat is ubiquitous (everywhere). Humans are constantly fighting other humans. A glance at the Middle East will prove this.
But, animals fight other animals. In every animal kingdom, from fish to birds to mammals, we find predators and we find prey. The killing is everywhere. One would think that the Plant Kingdom is peaceful, but it is not. Plants push each other around to get sunlight.
In Australia, the famous Eucalyptus Tree drops its bark on the ground around its roots, so that no other plant can grow near it and take part of its sunlight. The Eucalyptus produces a juice in its branches that intoxicates the mammals which try to eat the branches. We can see the cute Koalas hanging on to the tree, totally drunk from this juice.
Insects, bacteria and viruses attack anything and everything they can. We all have the experience of being attacked by viruses and bacteria. And, we know that the molecules from fungi can protect us as well as the fungi from the attack of the bacteria. We call these molecules Penicillin.
Bacteria produce molecules that kill other bacteria – and, Vancomycen is one of these powerful molecules. It is not strange, therefore, that plants, under attack from bacteria or viruses will produce molecules that protect themselves, and, if ingested by humans, will protect or help those humans as well.
RESVERATROL IS A MOLECULE PRODUCED BY PLANTS WHICH ARE UNDER ATTACK FROM BACTERIA OR FUNGI.
Resveratrol was first discovered by a Japanese scientist, Mr. TAKAOKA, in 1939 (Europeans and Americans do not have a monopoly on intelligence– the Asians have been doing their own research for many centuries).
After its discovery, Resveratrol was used in experiments with the usual insects and worms – animals that are cheap and plentiful, and whose characteristics are well known and well established with scientists all over the world. Probably, the most used scientific insect is the “Fruit Fly.”
This little creature reproduces bountifully, and its features, such as life span, flight characteristics and reproductive behavior are clearly documented across the world. Millions of experiments have used Mr. Fruit Fly, as the first step in understanding molecules.
When scientists gave Mr. Fruit Fly Resveratrol they were surprisingly pleased to note that he lived longer than usual. (We must remember, that they used tens of thousands of fruit flies, so that their findings had scientific validity). As per usual, after Mr. Fruit Fly, other small and expendable and numerous little creatures were tested.
Worms are generally second on the list of testable animals. Resveratrol improved longevity in a number of worms. On to bigger and more complicated creatures. An Italian group of scientists tested Resveratrol with a fish which had a short life span. That life span was extended.
CAUSES OF LONGEVITY
Longevity can be extended in two ways:
1. Change the DNA of cells so that the cells do not die (or reach apotheosis) early.
2. Protect the body from disease, such as cancer or diabetes, so that the cells do not die.
The first way is a Primary Change. The animal would die normally in 10 days, now the animal dies normally at 15 days.
The second way is a Secondary Change, the animal normally, because of disease, dies in 8 days, but when protected, lives to 10 days.
Resveratrol may work in both ways, extend life by modifying DNA, and protect life by eliminating disease. In either case, most people would be happy to add years to their life expectancy.
Cancer and Diabetes are the two most primary diseases that reduce life expectancy. Eliminate either or both and life expectancy will be increased by approximately 12 percent. To understand “12 percent” think of a human at age 90. Living 12 percent longer gets that human to 101 years. We hope that those additional 11 years are good ones.
It is to be noted, that the 12 percent is based only on disease prevention. We do not know how many years might be added with DNA modification. From 101 we might go to 121!
Since Cancer and Diabetes are the two most prevalent diseases, most research on RESVERATROL has centered in this area.
SCIENTIFIC RESULTS FOR CANCER
The number of cancers tested is enormous. We have to remember that any part of the body can turn cancerous, from the more common areas such as Breast in women and Prostate in men.
It was discovered that Resveratrol was a natural COX-2 Inhibitor, as were other natural agents such as CUR CUMIN and OMEGA-3, found in fish oil. All three of these agents were effective in reducing the incidence of COLO-RECTAL cancers.
When I did a MEDLINE search with the terms RESVERATROL and BREAST CANCER, I came up with 191 results. The results were almost all favorable to Resveratrol, with the indication that it was a blocking molecule for receptor sites on the breast tissue. This reduced cancer cell activity, migration and invasion.
If we look at the molecular structure of Resveratrol, we can see that it is similar to Estrogen in the spacing of its benzene rings. This can allow the blockage of molecules that would stimulate estrogen receptors.
A search of PUB MED, the government’s collection of scientific articles, turned up 118 for Resveratrol and Diabetes. It must be understood that studies of any agent and humans is highly controlled by the government, medical societies and the legal profession.
Any study which would include humans would be open to legal action if anything happened to one or more participants, regardless of the cause. Since litigation is so expensive and the awards for damages so high, any study involving humans is only undertaken by pharmaceutical companies with all other agencies on board, including the FDA.
FOR THIS REASON, STUDIES OF RESVERATROL AND HUMANS WILL NOT OCCUR FOR ONE OR TWO DECADES. IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THAT NO STUDIES WHICH USE HUMANS WILL BE UNDERTAKEN, SINCE RESVERATROL IS NATURAL AND THERE CAN BE NO PATENT. NO PATENT = NO PROFIT.
In the area of diabetes, mice or rats made diabetic with chemical poisons, are used. All studies of diabetic animals were favorable to Resveratrol.
AGING AND RESVERATROL
Most people on this planet would like to know if Resveratrol can reverse aging in a primary sense. In other words, they would like to know if Resveratrol can change the results of DNA. The aging aspect of DNA is related to the TELOMERES that are found attached to the DNA.
If the TELOMERES are shortenened, the cell dies earlier. Conversely, if the TELOMERES are lengthened, the cell lives longer.
One of the molecules that investigators claim will elongate telomeres is called: SIRT. The term SIRT stands for sirtuin (silent mating type information regulation 2 homolog).
Here is a brief summary of its actions
“These results show that new synthetic SIRT activators can reproduce the positive metabolic effects that were previously demonstrated using RESVERATROL, a naturally occurring SIRT activator found in red wine,” stated Auer, lead author of the paper. “But unlike RESVERATROL, these new chemical entities target only the SIRT pathway, making them more selective and potent for achieving these metabolic benefits.”
To assess the new SIRT activator on metabolic function, mice were fed a high-fat diet over a period of 15 weeks, while receiving average drug exposures of 100 to 500 mg/kg/day. Mice on a high-fat diet treated with the higher drug dose did not become obese, and their triglyceride, cholesterol, fasting blood glucose and insulin levels were all reduced. Furthermore, they were able to run approximately twice the distance as control animals in an endurance exercise test.
What this means is that SIRT and Resveratrol change the metabolic pattern of the cell. Like Resveratrol, the new drug described here, allowed cells to function under conditions of metabolic stress.
This is the equivalent of CALORIC RESTRICTION where an animal’s caloric intake is reduced and yet all essential nutrients are given. The result with CALORIC RESTRICTION is increased longevity, for as long as 50 percent above the expected life span.
The change in metabolic activity lengthens the Telomeres by activating the SIRT proteins which are attached to the telomeres.
We can see that there is a rational explanation for increased longevity and we can see that Resveratrol is part of the mechanism.
SOURCES OF RESVERATROL
It is well known by the public that Resveratrol is located in the skin of red grapes (there are natural sources of Resveratrol, apart from plants attacked by bacteria). The quantity of Resveratrol in the red grape skin is very small. Scientists believe that the people of the Mediterranean who drink red wine, do so consistently, so that they consume sufficient RESVERATROL to affect their metabolism and health.
However, there is a larger supply of Resveratrol in the Japanese Knotweed (FALLOPIA JAPONICA). This plant provides the greatest commercial source of Resveratrol. This is the source used for most of the capsules and liquids that manufacturers claim to contain Resveratrol.
It is to be noted that the quantities in wine and grape juice are too small to be used alone for capsules that are claimed to have over 200 mg of pure RESVERATROL. Sellers have a tendency to market Resveratrol as a product of wine or grapes, knowing that this is the public perception. Also, if the price is too low, the contents may not contain what the seller claims.
From all the studies done on Resveratrol, it seems that it should have a positive effect on humans. In addition, since pharmaceutical companies are patenting similar molecules, they are demonstrating their belief in the efficacy of the molecules.
I advise readers to try Resveratrol, with the usual caveat of Beware of Allergies or Untoward Side Effects.