The regulating effects of resveratrol on the immune system, combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, may offer some relief to those dealing with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—perhaps even preventing associated higher risks of cancer. Conventional treatment for IBD often has only limited success and adverse side effects, making the possibility of effective and safe natural treatments such as resveratrol attractive.238
IBD is not a single disease. Rather, it is a term used to categorize the chronic conditions Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis that are thought to be caused by inherited susceptibility and environmental elements (e.g., infection, diet, lifestyle, and microbial). These factors trigger an improper immune response causing chronic inflammation, intestinal tissue destruction, discomfort, and glandular dysfunction. Absorption of nutrients (especially protein) is often negatively affected in people with IBD and can lead to malnutrition—even in patients also suffering from obesity.24,239
IBD is associated with increased risk of other autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.240 People with ulcerative colitis are also at higher risk of colon cancer.238 Fortunately studies show that resveratrol may be able to help with some of these diseases as well.
How Does It Work?
Resveratrol is known to exert multiple immuno-modulatory and anti-inflammatory effects.24 Recently scientists have discovered that a particular inflammatory protein, interleukin 23 (IL-23), can cause ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease by negatively influencing the functions of innate immune system cells (T lymphocytes) that appear to trigger and sustain IBD.238 Other cancer-promoting inflammatory factors of colitis are also associated with increased colon cancer risk.238-239 Resveratrol has been shown in animal studies to suppress these inflammatory proteins.238
Evidence of Benefit
Animal studies demonstrate that resveratrol decreases levels of inflammatory factors related to immune system functioning (e.g., interleukins and prostaglandins) at the cellular level. Clinically resveratrol reversed or improved IBD symptoms in mice, such as weight loss, irritation of the intestinal lining, and problematic bowel movements.24
At resveratrol doses equivalent to less than 250 mg/day for humans, animals in studies modeling ulcerative colitis showed significant reductions in inflammatory factors by regulating immune system T-cell behavior. When these animals were also exposed to a carcinogen, those who were given the resveratrol had remarkably fewer incidents of colon cancer than non-resveratrol treated rats. While 80% of those without resveratrol developed colon tumors, only 20% of the resveratrol group grew tumors—and far fewer (on an individual basis) than the untreated group.238
In another mouse model of Crohn’s disease, also known as ileitis, resveratrol prevented death during the acute phase of the disease (which killed all the untreated control mice). Additionally, it helped control the immune system response by:241
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Specifically involving the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands.
IBD can cause both diarrhea and constipation.
Specifically, the protein IL-10 produced by white blood cells.
Specifically, lactobacilli (anti-inflammatory lactic acid bacteria)
and bifidobacteria (beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract).
Specifically, the inflammatory proteins IL-23 p19, IFN-γ,
IL-6, MCP-1, and TNF-α.
Specifically, enterobacteria (which include disease causing organisms such
as salmonella and E. coli, and enterococci (pro-inflammatory lactic acid bacteria).