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What is Resveratrol?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Resveratrol is a chemical compound found in certain plants. It is called a phytoalexin because plants naturally produce it as an antibiotic substance to fight both bacteria and fungi. Plants containing resveratrol include the grapes and skins of grapes that produce wine, raspberries, mulberries, blueberries and cranberries. It can also be found in peanuts, certain pine trees and in Japanese knotweed.

Many believe that resveratrol may have anti-aging properties, which has caused the substance, usually derived from Japanese knotweed, to be marketed as a nutritional supplement. So far, studies conducted on mice have provided the only evidence for claims that it may lead to longer life.

One of the initial reasons that resveratrol was considered as potentially beneficial was observation of the French lifestyle. Though the French tend to consume a diet higher in fats than in many other countries, they have an unexpectedly low incidence of heart disease. Many believe that the lower levels of heart disease are due to frequent consumption of red wine. Although it has been shown that red wine has anti-coagulating effects, many feel that resveratrol may also play a role.

It should be stated that the amount of resveratrol in red wine is relatively minimal. Probably the best common food source if one wants to consume this compound in its natural state is peanuts. Peanuts have significantly higher content than do any berries or grapes that produce the chemical.

Preliminary studies suggest that resveratrol might be an excellent antioxidant, may extend exercise tolerance, and may help reduce memory loss. There is some evidence to support the claim that it may increase the ability to fight retroviruses like HIV and herpes simplex.

Since it is also an anti-aging drug, it has already been marketed as a nutritional supplement. This may be a bit premature since not all negative impacts have been studied. There is some evidence in mice studies to suggest that resveratrol might act like an estrogen in the body and actually contribute to more cases of breast cancer.

However, the nutritional supplement of resveratrol contains tiny amounts, compared to what can be naturally derived from food. Some suggest that when resveratrol is consumed in food, it may actually leave the body much more quickly than the chemical supplement version would. As well, the supplements are at much lower doses than those used in most mouse studies, so effects might be minimized.

Still, resveratrol remains an interesting plant compound that deserves further study. The Food and Drug Administration has registered it as an investigational drug, so it is likely to receive more study. Some evidence certainly exists to suggest that it may prove of great benefit to humans.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon274749 — On Jun 13, 2012

Question: If you get high BP using resveratrol, like in my case, does lowering the dose help? Can I just quit one or two days a week or do I simply have to forget about it? It's so good in many other ways. Any ideas or experiences?

By anon156595 — On Feb 28, 2011

I am taking triple strength fish oil with resveratrol added into it. I have two kids about 14 months apart and my youngest is 4 months. This has helped amazingly with the stretch marks, my blood pressure has gone down, my hair and nails are healthier, and added bonus I am losing weight now when I tried everything else and it failed!

By anon134956 — On Dec 16, 2010

I just had blood work after taking resveratrol for three months and my liver functions went out of sight. Be careful with this supplement. Now I have to have a ultrasound to find out if It did any permanent damage.

By anon131630 — On Dec 03, 2010

I started taking this stuff at 300mg twice a day, two weeks ago and I am more than happy with the results! After two days into taking this, I noticed I no longer get tired after lunch time. I used to need to nap or at least I would feel brain fog.

Also, hair and skin is healthier! Overall, I feel more energetic and more alive than I used to. The brand I bought was "healthy Origins." I don't normally write reviews for stuff, but I am seriously impressed. Good luck and good health to you all.

By anon110936 — On Sep 14, 2010

I am a 65 year old retired female, and i started to take resveratrol two weeks ago, and i used to go to bed about 11 p.m. or earlier at night i was so tired.

now i take it, and i can stay awake all night long with getting tired if i wanted to. i have to force myself to go to bed at night. i never stayed up until 2 to 4 a.m. in the morning, now i do sometimes. i feel like i am in my 20's again, thank god for Resveratrol.

By anon78704 — On Apr 19, 2010

I took high quality Resveratrol and experienced an alarming rise in my blood pressure. When I stopped taking it, my B/P went right back down to normal.

By anon69296 — On Mar 07, 2010

Dose resveratrol raise your blood pressure?

By anon62393 — On Jan 26, 2010

I have been taking the resveratrol supplement for several moths now. I notice my hot flashes are better overall (I am 53)-- probably the estrogen component of Resveratrol?. Also my memory is greatly improved.

I used to not be able to remember more than three or four words at a time (I transcribe) or three or four numbers at a time (in a phone number). I can now remember an entire phone number and can remember 10 to 12 words at a time for transcription work.

I take other supplements including Cholesterol-lowering meds for many years, but have noticed improvement in the above areas since taking the Resveratrol (not scientific -- my discussion -- but noteworthy).

By anon30445 — On Apr 19, 2009

What makes it better than taking good cayenne caps, juicing and eating organic fresh foods with the best source of antioxidants? -a wise eater

By ceann — On Jan 08, 2009

has anyone posted any info that has actually taken resveratrol?

By ceann — On Jan 08, 2009

are there any side effects?

By debbieboop — On May 22, 2008

is it safe to take resveratrol? i bought a bottle and it states on it pre-launch but now that i seen your article it states it can increase breast cancer. thanks deebie

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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