Resveratrol blocks stress signals in the brain, and it could also help other neurological disorders such as depression and anxiety.
It's in the skin and seeds of grapes, which are the basis of wine, and berries, so people who instead choose to eat the fruit may get the same calming benefits.
It works by blocking an enzyme that is associated with stress signalling in the brain—and it could be an effective alternative to drugs for treating depression and anxiety as well, say researchers at the University of Buffalo.
Only around one-third of people suffering from depression are helped by antidepressants, and that could be because the drugs are targeting the wrong biological process. Most antidepressants focus on serotonin, whereas the more likely culprit is corticosterone, which regulate the body's response to stress. Too much stress can trigger high amounts of the hormone circulating in the brain, and this could eventually cause depression or other disorders, says lead researcher Xiaoxing Yin.
Resveratrol targets corticosterone and so could be more effective to combat depression and anxiety. To test the theory, Yin and his team fed resveratrol to laboratory mice whose corticosterone levels had been raised; the compound blocked the biological processes, suggesting that this would also ease feelings of depression or anxiety in people.