Red, red wine

We’ve been told for years that red wine – actually, the compound in red wine called resveratrol – may help reduce inflammation in our bodies because it contains a potentially anti-inflammatory compound called resveratrol. That was welcome news to a wine fan like me – but also kind of confusing, in that consuming alcohol is known to promote inflammation. As you probably know, inflammation plays a role in all kinds of diseases, including cancer and multiple sclerosis.
 
Science often demonstrates that things aren’t as clear-cut as we’d like. And that’s as it should be: Scientific research is designed to be incremental, each study adding a new bit of information to the whole body of knowledge, and contradictions often help point the way to discovery.
 
A recently published study is a good example. Research conducted at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana and published in The American Journal of Pathology set out to determine whether resveratrol reduces inflammation or serves as an anti-viral agent when administered to mice who had a condition resembling MS. The scientists were surprised to find that resveratrol appeared to actually promote myelin damage and inflammation, potentially worsening multiple sclerosis and associated symptoms. (Using mice with laboratory-induced conditions resembling multiple sclerosis is a well-accepted way to conduct preliminary studies, but it’s not always clear how mouse-model studies translate to human conditions.)
 
There’s clearly a lot left for scientists to sort out, especially since prior studies have shown that resveratrol can protect the nervous system in mice with MS-like disease. In the meantime, though, how should we regular folks – especially those of us who are contending with inflammation-related conditions such as MS – proceed?
 
My instinct is to, well, follow my instincts. In this case, until we have definitive guidance about how resveratrol may affect our health, I plan to enjoy my wine (in moderation, of course) without regard for its potential impact on my MS.
 
How about you? How much stock do you put in studies such as these?
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Jennifer

Jennifer LaRue Huget, Blogger

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is www.jenniferlaruehuget.com.

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    39 Comments

  • Janine Solley   Oct 18, 2013 9:21 AM
    I agree..... let's enjoy our wine... Red & Whiet..!!!
  • Danie'l   Oct 18, 2013 9:25 AM
    Oh I plan to keep drinking my vino!
  • Julie Williams   Oct 18, 2013 9:25 AM
    I enjoy wine to relax in the evening, so I think that is valuable despite potential inflammatory effects--it seems like it's a matter of damage from stress or damage from inflammation linked to wine. Six of one, had a dozen of the other! You still have to enjoy life however you can.
  • Wes Stinson   Oct 18, 2013 9:27 AM
    SALUTE! I plan on enjoying a little vino as well. I went about 8 years untreated with relapsing/remitting MS, so at this point, I measure time in increments of now.
  • Kim   Oct 18, 2013 9:27 AM
    I'm with you...Let's enjoy our wine...Cheers! :o)
  • Kathryn   Oct 18, 2013 9:28 AM
    I agree. Let's enjoy our wine. Personally, I'm not going to let MS define or run my life. If I want a glass of wine, I'm going to have one. :-))
  • imad   Oct 18, 2013 9:33 AM
    Now what we understand? Can we drink the red wine our no?
  • taylorl  Oct 18, 2013 9:38 AM
    I have been told that red grape juice has those same properties that are good in red wine. For anyone not taking in any alcohol, try some juice.
  • jmnyc   Oct 18, 2013 10:34 AM
    There are other ways to relax, with substances that may actually delay disease progression http://multiple-sclerosis-research.blogspot.com/2013/09/cannabis-based-drugs-inhibit.html
  • John   Oct 18, 2013 10:58 AM
    Life is too short. Enjoy your wine!
  • Lynne   Oct 18, 2013 11:11 AM
    Oh please - don't take everything away! A glass of wine definitely helps reduce the stress -
  • Diane   Oct 18, 2013 11:21 AM
    Forget about the mice and enjoy yourself! I drink wine and more and have MS over 20 years. I feel great and we just can take everything so serious. Life is short and wonderful. The only think I must do everyday is give THANKS to GOD for giving me another day.
  • Katelyn Murphy   Oct 18, 2013 11:26 AM
    A little wine is not worth it for me!
  • Barb   Oct 18, 2013 12:13 PM
    Considering alcohol's recent bad rap in causing or assisting breast cancer, I will keep my wine to a shot glass worth on occasion. Thanks for the new info. My doc had me drinking a bit of wine to lower my cholesterol but no more than a shot glass worth of alcohol if you are concerned with breast cancer.
  • Heather   Oct 18, 2013 1:33 PM
    Oh yes, a glass of wine is a must, besides it helps me sleep.
  • Jenny   Oct 18, 2013 3:09 PM
    How timely! I purchased my first bottle of wine in 20 years just this past Saturday. Admittedly it was not red wine. In the spirit of the season, I bought a pumpkin wine after tasting it in the grocery store. One small glass and I turned into a pumpkin.
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    babygirl18  Oct 18, 2013 3:34 PM
    I was always told i cannot drink alcohol so i would be drinking some wine for Christmas :)
  • Laurie Garvin   Oct 18, 2013 4:59 PM
    I believe in research. It will take research like this to find a cure.
  • jmomma4   Oct 18, 2013 5:50 PM
    I've tried many wines, not a fan. I do however love to get out, dance, do shots, and drink beer...a lot of beer!!
    The worst thing that has happened to me was a severe hangover!!!! So, just keep on keepin on while you're feelinggood! ♥ :)
    Btw: I HAVE NOT HAD A NIGHT OUT IN ABLONG TIME!! HAHA BRAND NEW BABY AT HOME!
  • Roy A Teel Jr   Oct 18, 2013 6:07 PM
    Well to all of those brave souls who have said they will keep on with their wine congratulations! I have been on all sides of the fence with alcohol and MS. I was a human research subject for 12 years after being diagnosed as primary progressive in 1995. Now in my 18th year with this disease the one thing that no one will take from me is my love and consumption of a great alcoholic beverage. I’m healthy, ambulatory, and alcohol does have an effect on my nerve pain and my attitude, just ask my wife!

    So I say enjoy your beverages, (in moderation) it would be really bad to over indulge and die from liver failure due to alcohol rather than the complications of MS…or not, I suppose it depends on your views. Find the joy in your life then live that joy every day, that’s the secret to my longevity living with Multiple Sclerosis.
    Peace
  • Brooke Scotto   Oct 18, 2013 6:08 PM
    I don't drink often, but when I do, I plan to keep it at a glass ( or two) of red wine!
  • Linda   Oct 18, 2013 7:53 PM
    I appreciate the info, have been working with a medical intuitive for over three years now and so for all that time left the injectable meds behind; for they weren't helping me at all anyway. Actually since my body doesn't do well with drugs, I think they were hindering me and causing me not to function very well. I still have my challenges but at least live independently now for over two years. With regard to red wine. I'm not a big drinker of anything and never have been. I have the same old bottle of Arbor Mist merlot with blackberry in the fridge. I have a little drink of it now and then, but actually can't afford a new bottle with what little I have to work with per month. Good info though and thank you for sharing. :) What I'd like to share, is many with MS are taking LDN lowdosenaltrexone for MS. It's being used all over the world for a variety of auto immune illnesses. Yahoo has a group, lowdosenaltrexone@yahoogroups.com in case you'd like to see what other have to say about their experience with it or ask a question about it. The med is filled by compounding pharmacies and is taken at a low dose 3mg. It has also worked well for cancer, very well! Type in LDN on a search line and you'll find a lot of info about it.
    Take care, thanks for reading what I've shared if you have, Linda in MI
  • MARILYNB52  Oct 18, 2013 7:56 PM
    Every time I drink wine my facial nerve pain cranks up several notches and lasts for several days, it doesn't matter if it is white or red. I can drink some beers and it doesn't seem to bother me. I can't drink but one beer, because I take Lyrica. Thank goodness for that drug, it changed my life.
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    JeriB  Oct 19, 2013 11:17 AM
    I covered this for Healthline a week or two back and I had that song -- "Red, Red Wine" stuck in my head the whole time I was writing it. Not the most encouraging piece I ever wrote on MS. Good news is the researcher I interviewed said it would take the equivalent of more than an entire bottle of wine for the levels of resveratrol to equal that used in the studies with mice.
  • Plg  Oct 19, 2013 2:42 PM
    I agree....Enjoy your wine....I do on occasion. :-)
  • Ame Riggs   Oct 19, 2013 6:04 PM
    Doesn't it interact with medication?
  • Margaret Finlay   Nov 5, 2013 11:32 AM
    Oooo - resveratrol is NOT good?? I just ordered a bottle of it - good anti-oxident and all round 'good' supplement I thought? And I do find the red wine helps with my pain - although that might just be the 200mg of tramadol I wash down with it...
  • Eric   Nov 12, 2013 2:17 PM
    I drink red wine and it "seems" to help or it just blends in my already tilted self. In any case, i do feel better after some vino or a cold beer and its alright. Moderation is always good because you can stretch that bottle for more evenings and eating well is better then any medicationout there.

    Eric.
    Toronto, Canada
    diagnosed in 2012 but have had symptoms since 2001
  • Typhany   Jul 5, 2015 12:40 PM
    My instinct is actually just the opposite. Despite the fact that so many people bank on red wine's possible healing properties, I figure that if there's even the slightest chance that this may make my MS and associated symptoms worse, I'm going to avoid it. I've seen multiple studies stating quite definitively that red wine may worsen MS symptoms and myelin damage, but none that state that they contain sufficient healing properties that they may counteract the damaging aspects of MS. To put into perspective, there are many many studies detailing the damage that alcohol consumption during pregnancy can and will harm a fetus. Yet, many women bank on the possible healing aspects of reservatrol to somehow negate the damaging affects of alcohol to the unborn fetus. Why put the fetus at risk at all? Reservatrol is not magical, it doesn't negate the harmful effects of alcohol. Another example, applied heat may help to relieve the pain and stiffness associated with inflammatory illnesses such as arthritis, but should people with MS soak in hot baths to relieve pain and stress? No, we should not.
    Cherry picking medical research, or adopting a "wait and see" attitude to continue engaging in a habit or treatment method that has so far been shown to be damaging to people with an illness can be extremely detrimental to our health. (And I'm not talking about trying to follow every bit of crackpot advice available, which would cause whittle our diets down to nothing and force us to choose between many contradictory statements, I'm talking about well established, scientifically based medical studies published in respectable scientific journals. We should certainly listen to those.)
  • BRUCE ZIADIE   Aug 26, 2015 10:17 AM
    Its so funny i started drinking red wine and i fell a little better in the morning.
  • Janet Robertson   Oct 12, 2015 3:30 PM
    I would draw on exactly the opposite conclusion. Since we don't know for sure and the data it is confusing. Why take the chance? I would not drink red wine.
  • Valentia   Oct 16, 2015 7:09 AM
    I use to use a walker five years ago. I do occasionally have a glass or two of red wine. I feel the worsening of symptoms comes from dehydration. Not necessarily the wine however I am mindful to drink more water while dining.

    What has been life changing is my use of medicinal cannabis. I no longer use a walker and most of my pain is gone. My delivery choice is edibles however now I use a product with a CBD:THC which is non euphoric.
  • josfromglos  Oct 19, 2015 3:08 AM
    I 'have' SPMS (next to a wonderful family of which one suffers from severe learning difficulties...). A glass of (white) wine (or two..) a day is therefore part of the medication regime I follow.... (anti stress).
    IF a bottle of wine (in my case Sauvignon Blanc in 100% of the cases...) would have had an information leaflet, it might have said that alcohol is bad for MSers because of loosing bladder control...... but no such leaflet exists...
  • Mixian   Jan 12, 2016 11:19 AM
    Great news lets drink wine with ms
  • Mixian   Jan 12, 2016 11:19 AM
    Great news lets drink wine with ms
  • Debbie miles   Feb 11, 2016 9:45 AM
    May2015 had my first MRI w/o contrast. I have ALL the symptoms of ms but only 2 lesion so not enough to diagnose. Now 4 years later condition so much worse. I am insisting they do another MRI w contrast. Let's see what happens. I love my red wine. I wonder if it makes a difference on the results.
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    gjlisGLORIA  Mar 31, 2016 8:39 AM
    Well regarding your ending comment, "I plan to enjoy . . . " I am all with you, Jennifer.
    Life is short in the best of circumstances and why not!
  • Teresa Selfe   Sep 14, 2016 1:06 PM
    Thanks for your post! I have primary progressive ms - nerve damage rather than inflammation.... and I drink red wine....have you heard about any connections positive vs negative in this case? Thanks again!
  • Michael in the suburbs   Dec 25, 2018 7:18 PM
    Yay. I prescribed red wine to myself. Yet i could not demarcate my exascerbated walking difficulty, muscle twitching plus breathing issues as alcohol related or brain related. Further study is required. Thankfully the liquor store is nearby and i have an open ended prescription.