This healthy plant extract raises testosterone and lowers estrogen, along with making muscle fibers grow thicker. Here's how.
The World Health Organization (WHO) figures that in any given year, around 50% of the premature deaths that occur are because of non-communicable diseases, with about 75% of those deaths directly attributable to cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory illness.
Any way you look at it, that's a whole lot of premature death, especially when the WHO (and just about anybody else with an IQ that has a fightin' chance of hitting 3 digits) says we could take a large chunk out of that percentage by just eating more fruits and vegetables.
If you're like most people, your assumption is that these life-extending benefits of fruits and vegetables could be directly attributable to all the vitamins and minerals they contain.
You'd be right... kind of. The thing is, these vitamins and minerals are generally pretty "easy" to get in modern societies, at least in the wealthier ones. They're in all kinds of foods – not just fruits and vegetables – and a lot of our processed foods are fortified with those workhorse nutrients.
What isn't as easy to get, and what's completely lacking in 90% of processed foods, fortified or not, is the class of substances known as polyphenols, which are a large subclass of phytochemicals present in fruits and vegetables that confer all kinds of health benefits to us.
So if eating more fruits and vegetables is going to reduce the percentage of unnecessary deaths in the world by non-communicable diseases, it'll be largely because of these polyphenols, the nutritional depths of which we're only just beginning to explore.
While the science of polyphenols in general is still in its infancy, there are a few individual polyphenols that have bushels of research on them, perhaps none more than resveratrol, a polyphenol found chiefly in the skin of grapes, red wine, and berries.
In addition to having several health-enhancing attributes, resveratrol also has several physique-enhancing abilities, including the ability to lower estrogen levels while increasing testosterone levels.
A Really Versatile Substance
Here are a few of the things science has discovered about resveratrol:
1. Resveratrol increases testosterone levels.
A Korean study found that the polyphenol increases levels of testosterone, along with improving sperm quality and motility.
2. Resveratrol acts as a potent estrogen antagonist (while also acting as an agonist in some tissues, similar to the drugs clomiphene and tamoxifen).
In higher concentrations, resveratrol even acts as an aromatase inhibitor. That means it stops the male body from whittling away at testosterone levels.
By parking its molecular body in estrogen's receptor sites, the substance blocks estrogen and even environmental estrogens (xenoestrogens) from initiating certain types of transcription, an example of which would be the growth of male breasts.
3. Resveratrol improves blood vessel flow.
It probably does this by modulating levels of NO (nitric oxide), which causes blood vessels to relax (which is also how many erectile dysfunction drugs work).
4. Resveratrol mimics calorie-restriction diets.
You've no doubt read about how reducing your calorie intake to that of a squirrel on Weight Watchers has been theorized to delay aging. Well, the mechanism behind that aging-delay has to do with a protein called Sirtuin-1, whose job it is to promote efficient energy utilization.
Cut calories and Sirtuin-1 levels go up and you live longer. Resveratrol has this same effect on Sirtuin-1 without cutting calories and has been shown in laboratory studies to extend the lifespan of several different species.
5. Resveratrol grows bigger muscles.
One study has shown that resveratrol makes muscle fibers grow longer and thicker. The researchers, in their conclusions, wrote that "...resveratrol could control proliferation, start the myogenic process, and induce hypertrophy."
6. Resveratrol improves insulin sensitivity and glucose disposal.
Resveratrol lowers blood sugar in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, increases glucose transport, improves insulin sensitivity, and protects pancreatic cells against inflammation.
7. Resveratrol puts the kibosh on cardiovascular disease.
A number of studies have shown resveratrol to be anti-atherosclerotic, anti-hypertensive, anti-myocardial ischemia, anti-stroke, and anti-heart failure in general. It does all these things by increasing the bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO), positively affecting cholesterol and lipid profiles, reducing C-reactive protein, and acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
8. Resveratrol stymies Alzheimer's.
One of the things that contributes to Alzheimer's is an excessive production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), and resveratrol has been shown to weaken the damage from ROS, in addition to having anti-amyloidogenic properties (i.e., helping prevent the plaques that are a hallmark of the disease).
9. Resveratrol hates cancer.
Resveratrol has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth and apoptosis (cell death). It also protects against DNA damage that may lead to the development of cancers.
10. Resveratrol battles less common diseases, too.
Numerous papers have shown that resveratrol, in addition to treating the primary diseases that afflict man, also shows considerable promise in treating other diseases like Parkinson's, kidney and liver disease, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, in addition to having anti-pathogenic properties.
So Just Eat a Lot of Fruit and Drink Wine?
While certain foods are rich in resveratrol, "rich" is a relative term. Take for instance a glass of red wine. On average, it contains anywhere from .2 to 2.0 mg. of resveratrol. Great, except that the average "therapeutic" dosage of resveratrol is considerably higher.
In fact, you'd have to drink around 33 bottles of wine to get a decent amount in your system, which seems a bit excessive. Nope, there's no getting around it: taking resveratrol in supplement form is the way to go.
Unlike most other polyphenols, resveratrol's absorption rate in the human digestive tract is about 70%, which is pretty damn high, but even so, the actual bioavailability of the substance can still be less than optimum because of its rapid metabolism in the intestines and liver.
That's why taking it in supplement form is better, particularly if that supplement has incorporated a way to improve its bioavailability. Biotest's Rez-V™ is one such product (and may be even the only one, as far as I can tell).
It contains pure resveratrol (about six times as much as many other brands) that's dissolved in lauroyl polyoxyl-32 glycerides, aka "gelucire," a substance widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to enhance absorption of chemicals or nutrients. Take it and you can rest easy that it's being delivered to your cells instead of the sewer system.
How Much Resveratrol Do I Need to Take Every Day?
If there's one problem with phytochemicals, it's that having too few of them isn't associated with any particular deficiency disease. Contrast that with something like a vitamin C deficiency – if you're a little low, it could manifest itself by causing depression, fatigue, or impaired wound healing. If you're really low, you could develop scurvy and walk like an 18th century pirate.
Not so with polyphenols, so it's difficult to come up with any specific reference intakes. That being said, an examination of the scientific literature suggests that 200 mg. a day would work for general health purposes (which is what's contained in one capsule of Biotest's Rez-V™ formulation), while doses of up to 600 mg. a day (taken all at once) might be necessary to build extra muscle, bind up estrogen, or have any beneficial effects on any of the diseases/conditions listed earlier in the article.
Luckily, it's practically impossible to overdose on resveratrol or any other polyphenols. The only known negative side effect from taking outrageous amounts is possible diarrhea, and even those were isolated cases.
Why Should I Add This to My Armory?
I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of supplements in the world and choosing which ones to take is enough to make anyone a little numb, a little nutso, and more than a little jaded, but resveratrol is one of those I take every day and will continue to do so until I'm placed in a giant, hermetically sealed supplement capsule and buried.
There's just too much juicy research behind it to ignore.
- Shin, Sunhee, et al. "Trans-Resveratrol relaxes the corpus cavernosum ex vivo and enhances testosterone levels and sperm quality in vivo." Archives of pharmacal research31.1 (2008): 83-87.
- Juan ME, et al. "Trans-Resveratrol, a natural antioxidant from grapes, Increases sperm output in healthy rats." J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):757-60.
- Bhat KP, et al. "Estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties of resveratrol in mammary tumor models." Cancer Res. 2001 Oct 15;61(20):7456-63.
- Henry LA, Witt DM. "Resveratrol: phytoestrogen effects on reproductive physiology and behavior in female rats." Horm Behav. 2002 Mar;41(2):220-8.
- Matsumura A, Ghosh A, Pope GS, Darbre PD. "Comparative study of oestrogenic properties of eight phytoestrogens in MCF7 human breast cancer cells." J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Apr;94(5):431-43.
- Bowers JL, et al. "Resveratrol acts as a mixed agonist/antagonist for estrogen receptors alpha and beta." Endocrinology. 2000 Oct;141(10):3657-67.
- Lu R, Serrero G. "Resveratrol, a natural product derived from grape, exhibits antiestrogenic activity and inhibits the growth of human breast cancer cells." J Cell Physiol. 1999 Jun;179(3):297-304.
- Turner RT, et al. "Is resveratrol an estrogen agonist in growing rats?" Endocrinology. 1999 Jan;140(1):50-4.
- Bhat KP, Pezzuto JM. "Resveratrol exhibits cytostatic and antiestrogenic properties with human endometrial adenocarcinoma (Ishikawa) cells." Cancer Res. 2001 Aug 15;61(16):6137-44.
- Wang Y, et al. "The Red Wine Polyphenol Resveratrol Displays BI-Level Inhibition on Aromatase in Breast Cancer Cells." Toxicol Sci. 2006 Apr 11; E-Published Ahead of Print
- Wallerath T, et al. "A blend of polyphenolic compounds explains the stimulatory effect of red wine on human endothelial NO synthase." Nitric Oxide. 2005 Mar;12(2):97-104.
- Lekakis J, et al. "Polyphenolic compounds from red grapes acutely improve endothelial function in patients with coronary heart disease." Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2005 Dec;12(6):596-600.
- Buluc M, Demirel-Yilmaz E. "Resveratrol decreases calcium sensitivity of vascular smooth muscle and enhances cytosolic calcium increase in endothelium." Vascul Pharmacol. 2006 Apr;44(4):231-7.
- Labinskyy N, et al. "Vascular dysfunction in aging: potential effects of resveratrol, an anti-inflammatory phytoestrogen." Curr Med Chem. 2006;13(9):989-96.
- Bhat KPL, et al. "Biological effects of resveratrol." Antioxid Redox Signal. 2001 Dec;3(6):1041-64.
- Bradamante S, et al. "Cardiovascular protective effects of resveratrol." Cardiovasc Drug Rev. 2004 Fall;22(3):169-88.
- de la Lastra CA & Villegas I. "Resveratrol as an anti-inflammatory and anti-aging agent: mechanisms and clinical implications." Mol Nutr Food Res. 2005 May;49(5):405-30.
- Delmas D, Jannin B, Latruffe N. "Resveratrol: preventing properties against vascular alterations and ageing." Mol Nutr Food Res. 2005 May;49(5):377-95.
- Valenzano DR, et al. "Resveratrol prolongs lifespan and retards the onset of age-related markers in a short-lived vertebrate." Curr Biol. 2006 Feb 7;16(3):296-300.
- Marambaud P, Zhao H, Davies P. "Resveratrol promotes clearance of Alzheimer's disease amyloid-beta peptides." J. Biol. Chem 2005 Nov;280(45): 37377-37382
- Molnar V, Garai J. "Plant-derived anti-inflammatory compounds affect MIF tautomerase activity." Int Immunopharmacol. 2005 May;5(5):849-56.
- Elmali N, et al. "Effect of resveratrol in experimental osteoarthritis in rabbits." Inflamm Res. 2005 Apr;54(4):158-62.
- Kopp P. "Resveratrol, a phytoestrogen found in red wine. A possible explanation for the conundrum of the 'French paradox'?" Eur J Endocrinol. 1998 Jun;138(6):619-20.
- Constant, J. "Alcohol, ischemic heart disease, and the French paradox." Coron. Artery Dis. 1997; 8:645 – 649.
- Das, D K, et al. "Cardioprotection of red wine: role of polyphenolic antioxidants." Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1999;25(2-3):115-20.
- Soleas GJ, Diamandis EP, Goldberg DM. "The world of resveratrol." Adv Exp Med Biol. 2001;492:159-82.
- Wyke SM, Tisdale MJ. "Induction of protein degradation in skeletal muscle by a phorbol ester involves upregulation of the ubiquitin-proteasome proteolytic pathway." 2006 May;78(25):2898-2910
- Tisdale MJ. "The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway as a therapeutic target for muscle wasting." J Support Oncol. 2005 May-Jun;3(3):209-17.
- Wyke SM, Russell ST, Tisdale MJ. "Induction of proteasome expression in skeletal muscle is attenuated by inhibitors of NF-kappaB activation." Br J Cancer. 2004 Nov 1;91(9):1742-50.
- Borra MT, Smith BC, Denu JM. "Mechanism of human SIRT1 activation by resveratrol." J Biol Chem. 2005 Apr 29;280(17):17187-95.
- Picard F, et al. "Sirt1 promotes fat mobilization in white adipocytes by repressing PPAR-gamma." Nature. 2004 Jun 17;429(6993):771-6.
- Wolf G. "Calorie restriction increases life span: a molecular mechanism." Nutr Rev. 2006 Feb;64(2 Pt 1):89-92.
- Ingram DK, et al. "Calorie restriction mimetics: an emerging research field." Aging Cell. 2006 Apr;5(2):97-108.
- Roth GS, Lane MA, Ingram DK. "Caloric restriction mimetics: the next phase." Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Dec;1057:365-71.
- Tian WX. "Inhibition of fatty acid synthase by polyphenols." Curr Med Chem. 2006;13(8):967-77.
- Kasdallah-Grissa A, et al. "Protective effect of resveratrol on ethanol-induced lipid peroxidation in rats." Alcohol Alcohol. 2006 May-Jun;41(3):236-9
- Sener G, et al. "Protective effects of resveratrol against acetaminophen-induced toxicity in mice." Hepatol Res. 2006 Apr 1; E-Published Ahead of Print
- Docherty JJ, et al. "Effect of resveratrol on herpes simplex virus vaginal infection in the mouse." Antiviral Res. 2005 Sep;67(3):155-62.
- Jung HJ, et al. "Fungicidal effect of resveratrol on human infectious fungi." Arch Pharm Res. 2005 May;28(5):557-60.
- Palamara AT, et al. "Inhibition of influenza A virus replication by resveratrol." J Infect Dis. 2005 May 15;191(10):1719-29.
- Yoo KM, et al. "Potent Inhibitory Effects of Resveratrol Derivatives on Progression of Prostate Cancer Cells." Arch Pharm (Weinheim). 2006 Apr 18;339(5):238-241
- Jones SB, et al. "Resveratrol-induced gene expression profiles in human prostate cancer cells." Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Mar;14(3):596-604.
- Scifo C, et al. "Resveratrol and propolis as necrosis or apoptosis inducers in human prostate carcinoma cells." Oncol Res. 2004;14(9):415-26.
- Kim YA, et al. "Antiproliferative effect of resveratrol in human prostate carcinoma cells." J Med Food. 2003 Winter;6(4):273-80.
- Stewart JR, Artime MC, O'Brian CA. "Resveratrol: a candidate nutritional substance for prostate cancer prevention." J Nutr. 2003 Jul;133(7 Suppl):2440S-2443S.
- Ratan HL, et al. "Resveratrol – a prostate cancer chemopreventive agent?" Urol Oncol. 2002 Nov-Dec;7(6):223-7.
- Aggarwal BB, et al. "Role of resveratrol in prevention and therapy of cancer: preclinical and clinical studies." Anticancer Res. 2004 Sep-Oct;24(5A):2783-840.
- Aziz MH, Kumar R, Ahmad N. "Cancer chemoprevention by resveratrol: in vitro and in vivo studies and the underlying mechanisms (review)." Int J Oncol. 2003 Jul;23(1):17-28.
- Delmas D, et al. "Resveratrol as a chemopreventive agent: a promising molecule for fighting cancer." Curr Drug Targets. 2006 Apr;7(4):423-42.
- Montesano A, Luzi L, Senesi P, Mazzocchi N, Terruzzi I. "Resveratrol promotes myogenesis and hypertrophy in murine myoblasts." J Transl Med. 2013 Dec 13;11:310.