Recent studies in rats indicate that resveratrol (RESV), a natural polyphenol compound, may be useful in minimizing brain damage from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
Studies of resveratrol’s neurological benefits
This study, published in November, showed the surprising neuroprotective benefits of resveratrol (1). In the study, 48 seven-day-old rats were broken up into four groups, all of which went through hypoxic-ischemic induction. Two of the groups did not receive resveratrol, and two of the groups did receive the supplement seven days before the induction in varying amounts. The pre-treatment with resveratrol significantly reduced oxidative stress in the rats who received it via the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway.
Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol, which is a category of chemicals that occur naturally in plants. These compounds have been discovered to contain many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (2,3). Resveratrol and other polyphenols are present in foods like red grapes, red wine, and pomegranate juice (2,3).
An earlier study was done on three groups of seven-day-old rats, some of which were treated with resveratrol following the induction of a hypoxic-ischemic event (3). Neuropathology studies found that the resveratrol provided preservation of myelination, which allows the nerve impulses to move more quickly. The resveratrol also provided a reduction of infarct, or dead tissues, in the rats who received it. The treatment rats also showed better behavioral function (3).
One study measured whether maternal dietary supplementation with pomegranate juice, a resveratrol-rich food, would protect infant rats from brain damage caused by hypoxic-ischemia (2). The results of the study found that rats who had been exposed to pomegranate juice in the womb had much less brain tissue lost after hypoxic-ischemia than those who hadn’t been exposed to it.
General benefits of resveratrol
Outside of studies related to HIE, resveratrol-rich foods and drinks have been found, in certain instances, to offer the following health benefits (4):
- Protecting the brain: Resveratrol helps stall age-associated cognitive decline, protect cells against brain damage, and provide other brain benefits.
- Relieving joint pain: In some cases, resveratrol has protected cartilage from breaking down and reduced inflammation in the joints.
- Lengthening lifespan: Resveratrol has been shown in certain instances to ward off diseases and has been proven to lengthen lifespans in many organisms (though no studies have been done on humans).
- Benefiting blood fats: Resveratrol has been found to help increase “good” cholesterol and benefit the makeup of blood fats in animals.
- Lowering blood pressure: High doses of resveratrol were found to lower systolic blood pressure, or the pressure on the artery walls.
- Helping those with diabetes: Resveratrol has been shown to prevent some of the complications of diabetes, including those caused by oxidative stress.
- Suppressing cancer cells: Certain studies have found that resveratrol may prevent cancer cells from replicating.
Resveratrol, although a healthy antioxidant found naturally in many foods, is still in the beginning stages of being tested for its neuroprotective benefits. There has not been enough research to determine how much or how little should be ingested to achieve its benefits, and therefore no amount of the supplement is recommended across the board at present.
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- Resveratrol mitigates the oxidative stress mediated by hypoxic-ischemic brain injury in neonatal rats via Nrf2/HO-1 pathway. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2019, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13880209.2018.1502326
- Loren, D. J., Seeram, N. P., Schulman, R. N., & Holtzman, D. M. (2005, June 01). Maternal Dietary Supplementation with Pomegranate Juice Is Neuroprotective in an Animal Model of Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Brain Injury. Retrieved January 26, 2019, from https://www.nature.com/articles/pr2005159
- Resveratrol ameliorates hypoxia/ischemia-induced behavioral deficits and brain injury in the neonatal rat brain. (2011, September 29). Retrieved January 26, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899311017914
- 7 Health Benefits of Resveratrol Supplements. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/resveratrol#section8