Q: Is it true that the red-wine compound resveratrol may be beneficial to traumatic brain injury recovery?—Sebastian, N.Y.
A: A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury or blow to the head which causes damage to the brain, altering normal neurological function. These injuries can have devastating long-term effects. However, new research is shedding light on possible treatments that include resveratrol. A study published in February 2018 in the Medical Science Monitor Journal out of Hangzhou Normal University, in Hangzhou, China, found that resveratrol activated an enzyme critical to "inducing the activation of antioxidant response" that can reduce a TBI's effects on cognitive deficits and cell death in the brain (apoptosis). In another study, researchers at Xi'an Jiaotong University in Xi'an, China, reported that resveratrol may have protective benefits early in the recovery process of brain injuries. (Both studies were conducted on lab rats.)
"According to the literature, resveratrol is anti-apoptotic and anti-oxidative (neutralizing free radicals)," writes Dr. Alicia Swan, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio's Department of Psychology. "Since these processes are among those negatively affected by TBI, resveratrol appears to hold promise in its treatment."
Dr. Swan cautions, however, that the doses of resveratrol used in these studies varied widely, and vastly exceeded the amount that a human should consume through drinking wine: The recent study out of Hangzhou was based on doses of 0.05 milligrams of resveratrol per kilogram of body weight to 0.1 mg/kg, while the Xi'an study employed doses of 60 mg/kg. A typical glass of red wine, according to Dr. Swan, contains only about 480 micrograms (or about 0.48 milligrams), and ingesting the volume of wine necessary to achieve the resveratrol doses in either study would lead to alcohol poisoning if not death.
Consult with your physician and neurologist to determine the best course of recovery from a traumatic brain injury.