Drinking wine

Resveratrol, the potent antioxidant found in red grapes and wine—along with chocolate, nuts and tomatoes—may hold a key in treating Alzheimer’s disease, the fatal illness with no known cure and few effective treatments in easing the symptoms that currently affect more than 5 million Americans.

A nationwide study on Alzheimer’s treatment is underway at 26 sites across the country and treating participants with either resveratrol or placebo capsules. The participants receiving resveratrol—which has shown the ability to protect both the body and the brain from the effects of aging associated with Alzheimer’s in clinical trials on animals—will eventually be receiving levels of resveratrol equivalent to drinking 1,000 bottles of wine in a single day—an impossible feat—but through the concentrated component in resveratrol. It could have life-changing effects according to the study’s director, Georgetown University’s R. Scott Turner.

The study will look at preventing brain cells from accumulating tangles, which are formed faster in Alzheimer’s sufferers than those with normal brain function when neurons die-off and shed a protein called tau. The researchers hope to determine whether or not the resveratrol can prevent the neuron loss that leads to the brain cell tangles in Alzheimer’s sufferers, which would be one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs in the history of the disease.

As a result of the brain trauma Alzheimer’s sufferers experience, memory loss, cognitive function and depression are common effects of the disease, often making loved ones appear as strangers, which makes the decline even more difficult for family members.

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Image: sling@flickr