Resveratrol is an interesting supplement. I just blogged on how in animal models it can simulate the health benefits of fasting. However, what’s interesting about this supplement ingredient is that it’s generated enough buzz to cause researchers to use it in human clinical trials. One study in particular blew me away as it showed that resveratrol was able to increase blood flow in the frontal cortex of the brain (the part we use to think).
Resveratrol is a substance found in red grapes and certain roots. It’s generated quite a bit of attention because it activates the SIRT-1 gene and this genetic switch is believed to be why underfed rats live longer. It’s also been postulated that resveratrol could by why our wine drinking french counterparts outlive us Big Gulp pounding Americans.
The first study by this UK based research group looked at how resveratrol impacted blood flow in the brain by using sophisticated near-infrared spectroscopy. This was a well designed cross over study where the patients who didn’t get the resveratrol initially and instead got a placebo, were then moved into the group that got the resveratrol, and vice versa. In the resveratrol group, there was significantly higher blood flow seen in a dose dependent fashion (the more resveratrol they gave, the better the blood flow they observed). They also collected evidence that the resveratrol was allowing the brain to extract more oxygen from the blood.
The second study was performed in a similar fashion, but this time they added in piperine. What’s piperine? It’s an extract from pepper that gives it that kick we all love. We added it into our stem cell supplement because it improves absorption of various supplement ingredients, most notably curcumin. It also improves the ability of the body to absorb resveratrol. So what happened? There was further improvement in cerebral blood flow by adding piperine and the authors believed this was due to improved bioavalability of the resveratrol (the body was better able to make use of the resveratrol because of the piperine).
The upshot? It’s pretty astounding that you can see measurable improvements in blood flow in the brain due to certain supplements. While I take our own stem cell supplement every morning, little did I know that there was good data showing it may be helping me get more blood flow to my aging brain!
About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…