The alcohol in red wine is unhealthy but another compound in wine, resveratrol, might be a candidate for a breakthrough drug. It could protects the heart, fight cancer, and reduces blood sugar that causes diabetes. It could even extend life by mimicking the chemical effects of a diet that drastically restricts intake of calories, which slows aging in skinny mice and chimpanzees, and possibly humans.
Resveratrol is found in the seeds of muscadine grapes and the skin of red wine grapes, in mulberry fruit and bark, and stems of Japanese Knotweed, a plant similar to rhubarb. All of these natural sources have been used to produce nutritional supplements containing resveratrol. President Obama allows them to be sold in this form as a natural dietary supplement without arduous expensive clinical trials, and to assert health claims such as:
Scientific studies have shown that Resveratrol supports healthy cardiovascular function. Resveratrol, especially when combined with other polyphenols, is known for its anti-aging effects, as well as its ability to support a healthy inflammatory response.
A Harvard professor started Sirtris Pharmaceuticals to develop a synthetic process of resveratrol production that would be more potent than natural competing products, which was bought by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2008. A pair of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals executives created non-profit Healthy Lifespan Institute (HLI) to produce synthetic resveratrol that was sold online. They were able to sell the supplements while saying it doesn’t explicitly endorse using it. That’s different from the late-night TV informercial crowd, which is more inclined to exaggerate what the supplement can do in order to boost sales.