Resveratrol: Another Promising Research Based Alternative Therapy To Supplement TBI Treatment
One of the most frequent questions I get from TBI clients in my Vermont law practice is: “Are there alternative therapies I can explore to help support my recovery from a traumatic brain injury without risking further harm?” Physicians practicing “integrative oncology” offer a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care for cancer that implements complementary therapies in collaboration with conventional treatment. Although TBI medicine is not as well organized, the peer reviewed TBI literature does support similar evidence-based complementary therapies for the treatment of TBI. Several have been featured in prior posts in this blog, including yoga and other mindfulness based therapies, exercise therapies, dietary therapies (especially foods rich in ‘polyphenols” found in many fruits and vegetables) and promising supplements including melatonin and curcumin (found in tumeric, curcumin reduces the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation.)
Another supplement receiving increasing attention in the literature is resveratrol, a “phytoalexin” produced by plants such as the red grape in response to various stresses, which promotes disease resistance.
In an Elsevier publication just released by Science Direct, a group of Indian scientists reviewed evidence on the use of resveratrol as a therapeutic treatment of TBI and the molecular mechanism by which it acts:
“Substantial preclinical evidence has associated Resveratrol with protection against TBI and subsequent secondary brain injury as it has significant anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic properties, emphasizing its promising scope in the treatment of TBI.”
Nath, et. al., “Resveratrol as a therapeutic choice for traumatic brain injury: An insight into its molecular mechanism of action.”
Publishing recently in Folia Neuropathol, Chinese researchers reported on the effectiveness of resveratrol in treating rats with TBI (following “controlled cortical impact.”) Feng et. al., “Resveratrol attenuates autophagy and inflammation after traumatic brain injury by activation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway in rats.”
The findings demonstrated that resveratrol “could reduce cerebral edema caused by TBI and improve the recovery of functional deficits” in the rats. “Data presented herein support that resveratrol is a potential treatment against TBI through the inhibition of neural autophagy and inflammation by activation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway.”
It must be emphasized that the current evidence is “preclinical,” which means that it is based on animal studies. How well this will translate to treatment with humans remains to be seen.
There is little dispute concerning the potential value of consuming foods with higher levels of resveratrol (other than the hazards of too much red wine.) Conventional medical sources do express concern about resveratrol supplements, including their “bioavailability” which can be relatively low because it is rapidly metabolized and eliminated. (There is some evidence that “micronized” resveratrol may be somewhat more bioavailable.) Another concern is that double blind human studies have not been conducted concerning safe doses, although researchers have found low toxicity in commercially available supplements. Like other unregulated supplements, the consumer must make his or her own judgment – consulting with medical providers – concerning the benefits and risks of such an alternative treatment. Conventional medical institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic do recognize the potential benefits of resveratrol, especially consumed in its natural form.
(Although purely anecdotal, the author of this blog has been using a commercially available resveratrol supplement called “Longevinex” for over a decade with no side effects.)