Ease Depression…With Red Wine?

Most of us have downed a glass of wine (or three) when we’re feeling bad about something. Now, new science is saying there may be a biological reason we turn to the bottle — it contains a component, besides alcohol, that may make us feel better.  (Image: Giphy)

Earlier this year, scientists found biological evidence that linked brain inflammation with depression. And now researchers from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine have discovered that resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of red grapes, may prevent inflammation, along with depressive-type behaviors.

The study authors began by repeating a similar experiment they had already conducted — one where they encouraged a large rat to “bully” others. And what they found in this first study was that some of the bullied rats developed both depressive-like behaviors and inflammation while the rats who weren’t bothered by the aggressive rodent did not show any signs of depression and were inflammation-free.

This time around, the researchers added one more component — the rats that were being bullied were given a daily dose of resveratrol, (about the amount found in six glasses of wine). Lead study author Susan K. Wood, Ph.D. from the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience at University of South Carolina School of Medicine tells Yahoo Health that these rats were given a total of 12 doses. “We measured neuroinflammation and tested for anhedonic behaviors at one time point — five days after the final stress exposure, which was also five days after the last treatment of resveratrol,” she says. (Wood defines anhedonic as “the loss of interest in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities and is a major symptom of major depressive disorder.”) “And it was at this point that resveratrol-treated rats had no evidence of anhedonia or inflammation compared with rats treated with a vehicle, meaning a placebo.”

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And yes, while resveratrol is most known for being a substance found in red wine, as well as chocolate, it’s also available as a supplement. Previous studies over the years have shown that this compound may also provide anti-aging and cardiovascular benefits, along with possibly preventing diabetes and obesity.

Wood and her colleagues will be continuing their promising research in this area. “The present studies demonstrated that we could prevent the development of a depressive-like behavior,” she says. “Moving forward we are exploring if treatment with resveratrol after repeated exposure to social stress can reverse the depressive-like state. If successful, our work has the potential to lay the groundwork for future clinical studies evaluating the effectiveness of resveratrol to treat symptoms associated depressive-like behaviors after they have developed.”

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