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Resveratrol Improves Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptoms


Resveratrol, a potent antioxidant found mainly in grapes, improved symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including intestinal inflammation, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding, in a new study. Mice that received resveratrol also had a better survival rate than those not treated.

Resveratrol is a phytonutrient (phyto means “plant”) that is the subject of considerable research because of its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, and immune system boosting properties. Previous studies have suggested that resveratrol enhances brain function and builds resistance to stroke, helps with weight loss, inhibits prostate cancer cell growth, and protects against diabetes.

Resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory abilities are of special interest for possible treatment and prevention of inflammatory bowel disease, of which ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two most common types. In the current study, which appears in the European Journal of Pharmacology, researchers conducted a placebo-controlled study in which one group of mice were given 20 mg of resveratrol per kilogram of food and the other group received placebo. The study period lasted 30 days.

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After the 30 days, the researchers induced colitis in both groups using a substance that inflames the intestinal walls. Mice in the resveratrol group experienced less severe and less frequent symptoms than mice in the control group. Specifically, treated mice had less severe weight loss, dehydrating diarrhea, and rectal bleeding than those not treated. In addition, 40 percent of the untreated mice died, while none of the resveratrol-treated mice did.

Resveratrol also appeared to help the mice recover from colitis better than their untreated counterparts. The researchers note that their findings suggest resveratrol may be an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, and that its lasting effects may help prevent these inflammatory conditions as well.

The inflammatory bowel diseases ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease affect about 1 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Crohn’s disease tends to impact the small intestine, although its effects can reach beyond that point. Ulcerative colitis usually causes inflammation in all or part of the large intestine. Diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and weight loss are symptoms of both conditions.

The causes of these inflammatory bowel diseases are not known, and there is no known cure. For now, medications are usually prescribed to control the symptoms, but drugs have side effects and are limited in their effectiveness. The addition of resveratrol to the list of possible treatment options would be welcome by those who suffer with these inflammatory bowel diseases.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Sanchez-Fidalgo S et al. European Journal of Pharmacology 2010 May 10; 633(1-3): 78-84