Resveratrol, Pterostilbene, and Ellagic Acid 


Dec 19
Purple Grapes

These are the Big Three Bioflavonoids found in fruits, and especially in berries, though not to mention in grapes and pomegranates would be a mistake.

The French Paradox, the idea that the French love eating fatty foods yet they have a low incidence of heart disease has had a lot of scientists looking at these three bioflavonoids, but I’m always disappointed because their conclusions are just too wishy-washy. Their “may bes” or “suggests thats” or “further studies neededs” just rub me the wrong way.

Yes, science loves to be exact and dammit, so does journalism, but once in a while you have be Pasteur-like and jump into the conversation saying, “There! That right there! That’s the freaking cause!”

So, I’m going to say it. These three bioflavonoids are the main suspects underpinning the French Paradox. And until someone can prove me wrong, that’s how we see it here at this site!

All three are anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging.

Let’s take them one at a time:


This bioflavonoid is found in the skin of dark grapes. Red wines contain a high concentration of resveratrol.

In studies conducted at the College of Pharmacy at the UIC campus it was discovered that resveratrol might prevent cancer (Jang, M., Cai, L., Udeani, G.O., Slowing, K.V., Thomas, C.F., Beecher, C.W.W., Fong, H.H.S., Farnsworth, N.R., Kinghorn, A.D., Mehta, R.G., Moon, R.C. and Pezzuto, J.M. Science volume 10:218-221, 1997).

In a more current study, they were able to show that resveratrol was effective during all three phases of the cancer process: initiation, promotion and progression. In one controlled study performed on mice, it was found that resveratrol reduced the number of skin-cancer tumors up to 98%. In one more study, Resveratrol was added to a test tube of human leukemia cells and it stopped the production of abnormal cells; it turned cancer cells into normal cells.

Resveratrol inhibits the body’s production of the COX (cycoloxygenase) enzyme. This enzyme stimulates tumor growth and suppresses the immune system. By reducing COX, resveratrol halts the chain reaction that allows cancer to spread throughout the body.

Resveratrol is available in health food stores and the most potent form seems to be (according to everyone) trans-resveratrol. Foods high in resveratrol are concord grapes (the wild form are even more potent), blueberries, red grapes, peanuts, pistachio nuts, chocolate, cranberries, blueberries, and lingonberries, red currants, and cranberries.

To aid absorption and bioavailablity of resveratrol, it should be taken with another bioflavonoid, quercetin.


After hearing of this study, I looked it up and found the following:

Seattle (June 27, 2008) — Using a high-output camera to film the back of the human eye, for the first time researchers have shown that a nutraceutical matrix can effectively remove cellular debris from the human eye that accumulates with advancing age and correlated this with significant improvement in visual acuity and night vision in an 80-year old man.

The accumulation of cellular debris in the retina is believed to be the first sign of age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that robs senior adults of their central vision used for reading or driving, for which there is no cure.

Dr. Stuart Richer OD, PhD, Chief, Optometry Section at the Veterans Medical Center in North Chicago, speaking at the 111th annual American Academy of Optometry meeting in Seattle, says this may be the first time an intervention has been shown to reverse aging changes in the retina.

The patient, an 80-year-old male, came to the eye clinic complaining of loss of night vision. Commonly prescribed nutriceuticals, such as lutein, vitamin E and fish oil were employed with no positive result.

After 5 months on the dietary supplement regimen, five measurable parameters of vision improved to varying but significant degrees including night (contrast) vision, visual acuity, color and side vision. Upon testing, it was also found the patient’s mental capacity had improved. The patient said, “My night vision and thinking have gotten much better.”

Some of the hype I’ve come across calls resveratrol the “fountain of youth” referring to Harvard studies that showed that resveratrol

  • cleans your arteries of plaque making them smooth and youthful
  • gives you a boost of energy, helping to burn more calories
  • boosts the immune system
  • and might even reverse the damage from a lousy diet and lifestyle

In one study, researchers took a group of middle aged mice and separated them into two groups. One group they put on a junk food diet, high in trans fats. This group quickly developed the same symptoms of humans who ate this same diet: an overloaded liver, insulin resistant diabetes, a host of cardiovascular issues, and a strange desire binge watch Netflix (j/k). [A Compound in Red Wine Makes Fat Mice Healthy]

This group of mice all died prematurely.

The other group of mice got the same exact diet, but they were also given resveratrol. The mice gained weight but were much healthier than the other group in that their organs functioned normally and they even looked healthier. In the end, this latter group of mice lived 15% longer than normal.

The study didn’t stop there. The researchers decided to put these overweight mice through endurance tests and compare the results to normal mice, on normal diets, but not using resveratrol.

The overweight mice, using resveratrol, beat the normal group in performance, stamina, and agility. In fact, this group had twice the stamina and agility as the normal group.

Another related study showed that mice on resveratrol were able to run twice as far as normal, healthy mice not taking resveratrol. [Effects of Resveratrol Supplementation and Exercise Training on Exercise Performance in Middle-Aged Mice]

We now know that resveratrol helps to increase mitochondria production. Mitochondria are the furnaces in our cells that convert fats to energy. As we age, mitochondria begin to deteriorate. This is why our metabolism slows as we age. However, research now shows that resveratrol might just be that fountain of youth that  we’ve searched for since the beginning of time.

That study I heard about at the VA hospital where one doctor had actually reversed an aging process with resveratrol, is just the beginning. More and more studies are coming forth with this same result. From a special publication of Dr Robert Rowan’s, we got the following:

  • Researchers at the University of Missouri show resveratrol reduces oxidative stress in nerve cells and may protect against age-related nerve changes.
  • At Wright State University School of Medicine, researchers show resveratrol inhibited an enzyme that may lead to less-than-optimal artery function.
  • Researchers in Japan show that rats consuming wine compounds for eight weeks maintained healthy blood pressure.
  • One study shows resveratrol did a better job than Pepto-Bismol in combating three strains of bacteria that cause diarrhea.
  • Resveratrol is antifungal. It protects the grape plant (vine and grapes) from mold and bacterial infection, and has been found to do the same in humans.
  • Early laboratory research has shown that resveratrol, a common dietary supplement, suppresses the abnormal cell formation that leads to most types of breast cancer.
  • Very low doses of resveratrol have been shown to stop the formation of these DNA adducts (atomic bonding to DNA that can affect cell growth and proliferation).
  • Resveratrol cuts the incidence of cataracts (taken in the form of red wine). [Gunnlaugsdoitter, E., et al., “Prevalence and causes of visual impairment and blindness in Icelanders aged 50 years and older: the Reykjavik Eye Study,” Acta Opthamol, 2008 May 30.]
  • Resveratrol seems to inhibit the growth of skin cancers and decreases damage done by UVB light. []

Resveratrol, as mentioned above, is found in the skins of grapes. However, resveratrol is also found in grape leaves. Here’s something I found on the web (years ago) concerning grape leaves:

Throughout the ages, the grapevine has come to represent fertility and prosperity. A luxuriant blooming vineyard was associated with times of peace and prosperity. A desolate vineyard, choked with weeds and strewn with broken vines, was symbolic of the ravages of war. For many, the grape vine was not just the bounty of the fruitfulness of the land; it was a gift from God.

Today, scientists are increasingly pointing to grape leaves for their numerous health benefits. As a powerful antioxidant it helps keep the free radicals in our bodies in check so that they don’t promote too much oxidation, which can harm the walls and structure of cells, damage the genetic material inside a cell, and cause many serious diseases. An astringent, in ancient days grape leaves were used as a remedy for diarrhea and throat infections. The leaves are said to be rich in an a compound that is helps fight arthritis and cancer. Grape leaves contain resveratrol, a stress metabolite that inhibits the formation of fatty deposits in the liver. They are also a source of vinifern, an antifungal that works with resveratrol to protect the heart and cardiovascular system.  []

Once again, we learn a secret to the Mediterranean diet and why the Greeks have much fewer cardiovascular problems than we of the Western diet, not to mention lower cancer rates.

However, if you want to get resveratrol in a powerful dose, you’ll have to supplement. And here’s why.

The half life for resveratrol is around 14 minutes. It’s analogue (below) pterostilbene has a half life that is 7 times longer. Also, the bioavailability of resveratrol is calculated at about 20%, compared to pterostilbene at 80%. Thus supplementing is the best way to get it, with the caveat that the bioflavonoid quercetin increases resveratrol’s bioavailability. Yes, you can get more resveratrol from a good red wine, but in blueberries and grapes, there is enough quercetin to increase the bioavailability of resveratrol. [Ref]


Of all of Resveratrol’s benefits, one we’ve not yet mentioned is how resveratrol helps maintain proper blood sugar levels.

In people with Type 2 diabetes who take metformin, taking additional resveratrol supplements was found to increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels compared with metformin alone. [Resveratrol Reconsidered]

Pterostilbene, a natural analogue to resveratrol, takes resveratrol’s actions even further by mimicking the benefits of caloric restriction in the human body.

You see, caloric restriction causes “gene expression,” or the scientific terminology for “turning a gene on or off.”

Caloric restriction turns on genes that directly affect longevity, such as reducing cancer promoting agents and turning on “atopsis” or causing cancers to initiate “cell death.”

Pterostilbene and resveratrol work together, and here is how it is best explained.

Resveratrol activates genes at the beginning of those events precipitated by caloric restriction while pterostilbene activates genes affected after caloric restriction such as fighting cancers, supporting healthy blood metabolism and promoting healthy blood lipid levels.

Or as one author put it, resveratrol works upstream and pterostilbene works downstream. [The “Other” Resveratrol]

So, together, both Resveratrol and Pterostilbene help control blood sugar levels. And together, their anti-oxidants work in synergy to slow, and in some cases (as documented above) the aging process. And while doing that, well, we’re just going to jump into that now . . . cognitive function.

Another benefit to pterostilbene is brain clarity. We all know how hard it is to think after a huge Thanksgiving meal. Well, caloric restriction has a brain sharpening effect. As an animal gets hungrier and hungrier, it turns into a much keener hunter. Blueberries, it’s been found, have the same effect on the brain improving memory and overall cognition.

And finally, inflammation. Pterostilbene and resveratrol are both anti-inflammatory and pterostilbene has been shown to reduce inflammation in the cells lining our arteries (endothelial cells). [Pterostilbene exerts an anti-inflammatory effect via regulating endoplasmic reticulum stress in endothelial cells.]

Given all of the above, you are just to assume that pterostilbene helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels. That would seem quite logical. [Ref]

Ellagic Acid

The following is from a newsletter we wrote in April of 2001.

Apparently the Hollings Cancer Institute at the U of South Carolina is having a field day with this natural substance (found in red raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, pomegranates, and some nuts). At the Hollings Cancer Institute, they not only conducted a nine year study on the properties of ellagic acid, they are also conducting a double blind study involving 500 cervical cancer patients.

Initial research demonstrated the following:

  1. Ellagic acid stops cancer cells from dividing in 48 hours.
  2. Ellagic acid causes normal cell death (apoptosis) within 72 hours in cases of breast, pancreas, esophageal, skin, colon and prostate cancers.
  3. Ellagic acid prevents the destruction of the p53 gene that leads to cancer.
  4. HPV (human papilloma virus) exposed to ellagic acid from red raspberries experienced apoptosis (normal cell death).
  5. Consuming one cup (150 grams) of red raspberries per day prevents the development of cancer cells.

From Dr Glen Halvorson’s Book, Chemopreventive Properties of Phytochemicals [online at that link], we learn that ellagic acid:

  • is anti-bacterial and destroys the H. pylori bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers,
  • protects the liver and liver function,
  • binds with carcinogens (chemicals that cause cancer) making them inactive,
  • prevents carcinogens from binding to DNA,
  • and reduces glucose levels (aids in management of diabetes).

Raspberries contain the highest amounts of ellagic acid, and it doesn’t matter if the fruit is boiled, backed, canned, sugared, dehydrated, or fresh, the ellagic acid is still potent.

Also from Dr Halvorson’s book: “Unpublished research at the Hollings Cancer Center shows that one cup of raspberries per week will stop prostate cancer growth for a period of up to one week.”

Finally, he tells us that Ellagic acid is a very stable compound and is readily absorbed through the gastrointestinal system in mammals including humans.

Beyond Ellagic acid’s cancer preventive properties, since we talked of the French Paradox, we’d be remiss not to mention that ellagic acid is anti-atherogenic (prevents plaque), anti-thrombotic (reduces blood clots by inhibiting platlet aggregation), and anti-inflammatory. [Ellagitannins, ellagic acid and vascular health]

You can look for a product called Ellagic Insurance Formula, or try Swanson’s Pomegranate Extract.

It should be pretty obvious that all three of these nutrients, found in fruits and berries, are, separately, power houses of nutrition.

What you should have leaned is that the best resveratrol is trans-resveratrol and that it should be taken with quercetin, and that Ptestrilbene and Resvertrol work together synergistically and taking them together is he most effective way to get the greatest benefits from both.

The best form I have found on this planet is: pTeroBlue Pterostilbene + Resveratrol, and the best price is at that link.