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How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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June 17, 2010: by Bill Sardi
It has been a long time coming — since 2003 when Konrad Howitz PhD of Biomol and Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School first reported in Nature Magazine that yeast cells lived longer when given resveratrol, a red wine molecule — for human studies to ensue.
Publication of the first small studies involving resveratrol pills in humans appear to be encouraging, but obviously lack conclusiveness. It will take a few decades to convincingly prove a pill can reliably extend human life.
One of the markers of aging is inflammation. In fact, aging has been called “inflammaging.” Researchers at the State University of New York found that 40 milligrams of resveratrol taken daily by young adults for six weeks significantly reduces markers of inflammation (tumor necrosis factor-TNF, C-reactive protein – CRP) as well as measures of oxidation. An abstract of the study can be viewed online here.
The study employed a 20% extract of Giant Knotweed (botanical name, Polygonum cuspidatum) marketed by Pure Encapsulations which researchers said “was the purest preparation available at the time the study was conducted.” But this isn’t quite accurate. Extracts of Giant Knotweed ranging from 20% to 98% were available as early as 2004. A 20% extract would contain a significant amount of emodin, a molecule that induces loose stool in some subjects, and would be undesirable for human use. Extracts exceeding 80% contain little emodin and avoid the undesirable effect on bowel regulation.
The research team claimed their study was the first to demonstrate antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action humans, but actually a prior study conducted at Appalachian State University in 2008, employing an 80 mg dose of resveratrol combined with quercetin and rice bran IP6, produced similar results.
Another recently published study conducted in Great Britain employed 250 mg and 500 mg doses of resveratrol (Biotivia) among 22 healthy young adults. The study did show that resveratrol enhances markers consistent with improved blood flow to the brain and described the study as a success. But they failed to note that increased delivery of oxygen to the brain also increases oxidation. No improvement in cognition (thinking) was exhibited, but this was likely due to selection of relatively young adults for the study group. It was a failed study, but the manufacturer of the product selected for this study has irresponsibly chosen to describe the study as a success and that it improved cognition.
Yet another recent study shows that mega-dose resveratrol (4000 mg/day, taken in two divided doses of 2000 mg -Biotivia) produced loose stool among the majority of subjects ( 6 of 8 ) and there was one report of a skin rash, a sign of over-dosage. The loose stool may be indicative of a significant amount of emodin within the product, which often induces this problem. The manufacturer of the pill makes claims of product purity which appears to be specious. The co-administration of wine with the resveratrol pills did not enhance absorption. The dosage employed in this human study should be deemed to be potentially harmful as other studies indicate doses above 350 mg per day in humans may induce cell death and worsen tissue damage in the heart in the event of a heart attack. An abstract of the study is available to view here. Again this is an example of irresponsible marketing of a dietary supplement. Long-term use of this type of supplement is potentially problematic. © 2010 Bill Sardi, Resveratrol News