Q: We have heard many good things about resveratrol. But before I start taking it, I’d like to know more about the pros and cons. What can you tell us?
A: Resveratrol is a compound produced by certain plants to defend themselves against toxins. Grape and peanut skins are both rich in resveratrol.
Studies show that this antioxidant can increase insulin sensitivity and improve blood glucose control (Nutrition & Metabolism, Sept. 22, 2017). Resveratrol also improves blood-vessel flexibility and may help lower blood pressure modestly (International Journal of Molecular Sciences, April 30, 2019).
New research indicates that resveratrol might improve blood flow in the brain and help cognitive function in older women (Nutrients, March 20, 2020).
Taking resveratrol before exercising could interfere with the benefits from physical activity. Other side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, itchy bottom and allergic reactions. Anyone taking resveratrol should ask the doctor or pharmacist to check on potential drug interactions.
Q: Our daughter told us about taking elderberry extract. In fact, she brought us a bottle of the syrup. We’ve all been taking 2 tablespoons once per day.
She came down with the flu this winter and was running a fever of 100.3 degrees F. She continued taking the elderberry extract and recovered completely in just three days.
She didn’t see the doctor, but it sure looked like she had the flu. We will all continue to take it daily, especially in these uncertain times.
A: Many readers have asked about elderberry to treat viral infections. Only a handful of clinical trials have examined its use for influenza or other viruses. One meta-analysis found that black elderberry extract can “substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms” (Complementary Therapies in Medicine, February 2019). Another study found that air travelers taking placebo had more colds and suffered longer with cold symptoms than those randomized to take elderberry extract (Nutrients, March 24, 2016).
However, a review found that there are too few studies comparing elderberry with standard antiviral medications (Phytotherapy Research, April 2017). Needless to say, no one has had a chance to study elderberry extract as a treatment for COVID-19, so we do not know whether it would be helpful or harmful.
Q: I read about eating raisins to keep from getting up during the night for trips to the bathroom. I eat 1/4 cup of raisins a few hours before retiring and it works for me.
I used to twist and turn half of the night. Since I started eating raisins, I now fall asleep easier and sleep through the night. Instead of getting four and a half to five hours of sleep, I now get seven or eight hours a night.
A: We are delighted to hear that you have benefited from this home remedy. Brush your teeth after munching the raisins so they don’t contribute to tooth decay.
We learned about this interesting approach from readers rather than from the medical literature. Others have reported a similar benefit from eating beets or beet soup in the evening.
People who would like to learn more about such innovative but unproven options for common problems such as aches, pains, itches, coughs, cramps, indigestion, hiccups or gout may be interested in our eGuide to Favorite Home Remedies. You will find it in the Health eGuides section of www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.