Alzheimer’s disease is still left without a cure, but tens of researchers’ teams around the globe are working on finding one. Resveratrol – which is a natural compound produced by some plants when they are injured – seems to offer new hope to patients who struggle with the disease.
One of Alzheimer’s biomarkers seems to be affected by this new treatment, according to researchers at Georgetown University. They also warn that more research needs to be done on resveratrol before it can be recommended as treatment.
More than 120 people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease were part of the study, and they were divided in two groups; for a year, some were administered a resveratrol medication, and other a placebo. Researchers dosed the resveratrol to be very intense – roughly the equivalent of resveratrol found in 1,000 bottles of red wine (the grape wine is a producer of the compound).
The biomarker that was affected by resveratrol is called Abeta40, and its levels are a sign of Alzheimer’s getting worse disease gets worse. When there’s too little Abeta40 in a person’s cerebrospinal fluid, researchers believe it builds up in the brain, causing a worsening of the disease.
Those participants who were on the placebo during the study still experienced a decline in Abeta40 in their spinal fluid, but the Abeta40 levels in those patients on the resveratrol medicine were almost unchanged. Researchers think this means the treatment leads to fewer Abeta40 deposits in the brain, but future studies are required for a deeper understanding of the reactions.
So far, doctors aren’t sure if resveratrol does indeed have an effect on the progression of the disease. Study author Dr. R. Scott Turner, head of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, has discouraged people from buying resveratrol and taking it as treatment.
One of the study’s flaws was the low number of participating patients, because it wasn’t enough to definitively determine whether resveratrol is effective. In fact, after taking five cognitive tests, there was no difference in cognitive performance between people who took the resveratrol treatment and those that were on placebo.
Only one of the tests proved that resveratrol actually had a practical impact, showing less decline in the ability of performing daily activities, including getting dressed and cooking, compared with the control group.
Following a resveratrol treatment, however, came with side effects, of which nausea and diarrhea were the strongest, leading to weight loss. That’s why supplements might be required for weight-loss prevention if the compound ends up becoming an approved medicine.
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