Compound Found in Red Wine Could Lead to New Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

It may help treat anxiety disorders, too.

By Elizabeth Yuko, Ph.D.
March 12, 2020

If you’re someone who enjoys a nice glass of wine at the end of a long day as a way to wind down, it may be more than the alcohol that helps you relax. New research out of the University of Buffalo (UB) in New York has discovered that a plant compound in red grape skin can help relieve stress and shut down an enzyme in the brain that causes depression

The study, published in the journal Neuropharmacology, focused on the plant compound resveratrol, which is contained in red wine and has anti-stress effects. “Resveratrol may be an effective alternative to drugs for treating patients suffering from depression and anxiety disorders,” Ying Xu, M.D., co-lead author and research associate professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, said in a statement.

Up until this point, scientists knew that resveratrol had antidepressant properties, but until this study, the link between the compound and its relationship to an enzyme influenced by corticosterone — a stress hormone — was unknown. The dynamic interaction between the two is significant because the hormone regulates the body’s response to stress, and too much of it could lead to the development of depression. The complex and often unclear interactions between hormones, enzymes and other compounds in the brain are part of what make finding the right antidepressant for each individual so challenging. The researchers hope that the findings from this study can help with the process of developing new, more effective drugs to treat anxiety and depression.

Of course, it goes without saying that red wine is still alcohol, so it should be consumed in moderation. But if you’re considering whether or not to pour yourself a glass tonight and de-stress for a minute, it probably wouldn’t hurt.

About the writer:

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is a bioethicist and writer as well as an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham University. She has written for print and online publications, including The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe AtlanticRolling StoneCNNFodor’sLifehackerReader’s Digest and Playboy.

Outlier Disclaimer

This site is for educational purposes and not a substitute for professional medical care by a doctor or otherwise qualified medical professional. The information provided by Outlier Magazine is on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services.

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