How This Red Wine Ingredient Might Protect Against Depression

Written by Georgina Berbari

Image by Lyuba Burakova / Stocksy

Red wine lovers, rejoice: Savoring that palliative glass after a stressful day might be doing a bit more for your health than simply helping you unwind, according to new research. A new study published in the journal Neuropharmacology revealed that a plant compound found in red wine called resveratrol might be protecting you from symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Resveratrol is found in the skin and seeds of grapes and berries (and sometimes peanuts) and has been found to have a host of positive effects on the human body. According to internist and gastroenterologist Marvin Singh, M.D., research shows resveratrol has a host of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and longevity-boosting effects and could even be a potent treatment for diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and even cancer. "Resveratrol is a superpower when it comes to plant-based compounds," he writes at mbg. "There aren't too many serious contraindications or severe side effects, and there is an enormous body of literature that suggests numerous health benefits."

If all of that's not enough to turn you on to this little plant compound, according to the current research, resveratrol has neuroprotective effects against the stress hormone corticosterone, which, in excess, has been found to cause depression and anxiety symptoms. This was discovered when the scientists, who experimented on resveratrol's effect on mice, found that the compound inhibited the expression of phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4)—an enzyme influenced by corticosterone. Essentially, resveratrol served to relax the body's response to stress.

That means it may not necessarily be the "buzz" derived from your glass of Cabernet that's making you feel so tranquil but rather the plant compound you're ingesting. The resveratrol found in your glass of red wine might be mitigating extreme stress and thereby offsetting more serious mental health issues that can develop when that stress goes unchecked.

"Resveratrol may be an effective alternative to drugs for treating patients suffering from depression and anxiety disorders," Ying Xu, M.D., Ph.D., a pharmacy professor at the University of Buffalo and one of the lead authors on the study, suggested in a news release.

Of course, this research isn't permission to go hard on the boxed wine, but if you practice your adoration for red wine in moderation, there's certainly no denying the potential health benefits. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, longevity boost, and more, now we can say with some confidence that those benefits also branch out to feasible improved mental health. And if wine isn't your thing, the current science lays the groundwork for potentially using resveratrol in novel antidepressants one day in the future.

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