September 15th, 2015

Double-Blind Study Shows Resveratrol May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Resveratrol BenefitsIntroduction:

Resveratrol is a plant compound similar to flavonoids. It is found in low levels in the skin of red grapes, red wine, cocoa powder, baking chocolate, dark chocolate, peanuts, and mulberry. Red wine is perhaps the most recognized source of resveratrol, however, red wine contains at the very most only one milligram per glass. Most resveratrol supplements use Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) as the source with dosage recommendations often 500 mg of resveratrol up to four times daily. So it would take several thousands glasses of wine to provide the level of reservatrol that is provided through supplementation.

There has been a great deal of hype regarding resveratrol supplements, but there have also been some positive clinical studies showing positive results in improving memory and brain function in elderly subjects. A new study from Georgetown University’s Department of Neurology and researchers from 21 medical centers across the United States shows that reservatrol supplements may offer significant protection against Alzheimer’s disease.

Background Data:

Resveratrol has received a lot of attention as a longevity aid, but its scientific basis relies primarily on test tube and animal studies. There is only a handful of published human studies at this time, but the results are very encouraging.

Resveratrol activates an enzyme known as sirtuin 1 which plays an important role in the regulation of cellular life spans; it also promotes improved insulin sensitivity. Either of these two effects might explain its ability to extend lifespan.

In terms of brain health, a 2010 clinical study in humans showed that resveratrol supplementation at a single dosage of 250 or 500 mg could improve blood flow to the brain, but it had no effect on mental function in this study. In a 2014 study conducted in Germany, the use of a resveratrol supplement resulted in a significant impact on the ability to remember words compared with placebo. Resveratrol users also showed a significant increase in functional connectivity of the hippocampus – the area of the brain involved with the formation, organization, and storage of memory.

New Data:

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter study was conducted to examine the safety and effectiveness of resveratrol in 119 individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease (AD).

The patients were randomized to receive either a placebo or resveratrol capsules. The initial dosage was 500 mg orally once daily, with dose escalation by 500-mg increments every 13 weeks until the final dosage of 1,000 mg twice daily was achieved. Brain MRI and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collection were performed at baseline and after 52 weeks of treatment.

Resveratrol and its major metabolites were measurable in the blood (plasma) and CSF in the subjects in the resveratrol treated group. The researchers looked at several biomarkers of Alzheimer’s including the level of beta-amyloid in the CSF. When beta-amyloid accumulates, it leads to significant damage to brain cells and the characteristic lesions of AD. Interestingly, although accumulation of amyloid-beta in the brain is a hallmark of AD, these patients actually have lower levels of this protein in the CSF. When the researchers look at the level of beta-amyloid in the CSF in the patients in the study, they found that subjects in the resveratrol group had higher levels of beta-amyloid proteins in their spinal fluid than those in the placebo group. The results suggest that resveratrol apparently helps prevent beta-amyloid accumulating in the brain and promotes its transport out of the brain so that it can be effectively broken down.

Resveratrol and its major metabolites clearly penetrated the blood-brain barrier as they were found in the CSF. An additional finding of interest was that the patients taking resveratrol lost about two pounds during the one-year study, while the placebo group gained about 1 pound. The brain MRI results showed that the resveratrol group had a smaller brain volume than the placebo group. The explanation being that the inflammation within the brain linked to AD can cause swelling and a larger brain volume. So, a smaller brain volume in this case (AD) is a positive sign.

These results clearly indicate a potential role of resveratrol supplementation in preventing AD.


Over the past few months and years I have featured several newsletters highlighting studies that reflect nutritional approaches for improving brain health, memory, and/or the prevention of age-related mental decline or AD. There are a lot of natural products to choose from, but the basic underlying goals and effects are quite similar. You have to reduce inflammation, control blood sugar levels, provide necessary building blocks with super nutrition, and protect the brain from damage by consuming antioxidants from the diet and through supplementation.

While resveratrol shows some compelling data as detailed above, my feeling is that it can’t do the job well enough by acting alone. It needs to be part of bigger approach that focuses on diet, lifestyle, and proper supplementation. In regards to diet, the Mediterranean or New Nordic Diet look very helpful. In regards to supplementation, there are four primary recommendations I make to people to help them design a foundation nutritional supplement program that also, not surprisingly are very important in preventing AD:

#1. Take a high quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement providing at least the recommended dietary intake for all vitamins and minerals.

#2. Take enough vitamin D3 (typically 2,000-4,000 IU daily) to elevate your blood levels to the optimal range (50-80 ng/ml).

#3. Take extra plant-based antioxidants like flavonoid-rich extracts like grapeseed or pine bark extract; curcumin (Theracurmin); a “greens drink” product; resveratrol; or some other broad-spectrum antioxidant.

#3. Take a high quality fish oil product to provide 1,000 mg EPA+DHA daily for general health or up to 3,000 mg EPA+DHA if you have an inflammatory condition, cardiovascular disease, depression, ADHD, multiple sclerosis, or any other brain or nerve disorder; or any of the 60+ health conditions shown to respond or be prevented by fish oils.

Also, realize that in the study described above, benefits to the brain in these patients may have been secondary to improvements in blood sugar control as resveratrol has also been shown to improve insulin action. This potential link highlights the importance of using PGX, which I think is the most important supplement in North America today given its effects in supporting proper blood sugar control and weight loss. Some researchers have referred to AD as “diabetes of the brain.”


Turner RS, Thomas RG, Craft S, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of resveratrol for Alzheimer disease. Neurology. 2015 Sep 11. [Epub ahead of print]

Dr. Michael Murray

September 8th, 2015

Is Acne due to Sugar, Dairy Products, and Bad Fats?


Acne is clearly associated with diet. Strongly linked to acne is a diet high in refined carbohydrates, dairy, and the wrong type of fats. In Westernized societies, acne is a nearly universal skin disease afflicting 79% to 95% of teenagers. In men and women older than 25 years, 40% to 54% still have some degree of facial acne. In contrast, acne is extremely rare in societies consuming healthful traditional diets.

Despite the now overwhelming scientific evidence linking diet and acne, many dermatologists still cling to the myth that diet has no impact on acne. They are wrong. It is now time for these doctors to apply the knowledge of nutrition with their patients by stressing the avoidance of the offending foods, especially refined carbohydrates.

Background Data:

Over the past few years the role of diet in acne has been strengthened because of a deeper knowledge of the underlying disturbances in the skin that contribute to acne. While acne is related to the metabolism of testosterone, there is another cofactor that is extremely sensitive to diet. This hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), is the major growth hormone of puberty and is one of the key reasons why acne affects teenagers. The level of IGF-1 correlates with the severity of acne, not testosterone or increased conversion to the more powerful form dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The effects of IGF-1 on the skin which promote acne are clearly are related to dietary factors, especially too much refined sugar.

A high sugar intake is one of the strongest dietary links to acne. A high intake of sugar influences IGF-1 and testosterone metabolism in the skin in a manner that promotes excessive sebum production and acne. It clearly worsens the severity of acne based upon both experimental and clinical studies. In contrast, a diet that restricts refined carbohydrates and has a lower glycemic load reduces sebum production and favorably effects acne.

A number of other dietary factors have been identified as major contributors to acne. For example, milk and other dairy products are a significant problem for many acne sufferers. In addition to detrimental fats, dairy products contain hormones that can impact sebum production, as well as promotes an increase in IGF-1.

New Data:

To further evaluate the role of IGF-1 in acne researchers examined 60 acne cases and 40 gender- and age-matched, healthy subjects, representing the control group. Examination included skin biopsies.

Results showed that IGF-1 levels were higher in all acne lesions as compared to normal skin in all areas of the skin. Interestingly, there was also a significant association between a strong intensity of IGF-1 and high body mass index (BMI) values. Individuals with acne that had a BMI ≥ 30, a clear sign of obesity, had stronger IGF-1 intensity compared to those with a low (< 30) BMI value. In addition, dairy product intake was also strongly linked to acne severity.

The researchers concluded with “The significant association between strong IGF-1, high BMI, and severe acne underscores the value of dietary intervention in the management of AV.”


What this study really signified was that acne maybe a sign of localized insulin resistance in the skin. That is why acne severity correlated with the degree of obesity. In the early 1940s some dermatologists began referring to acne as “skin diabetes.” The reasons were very interesting. Although results from oral glucose tolerance tests in acne patients showed no differences from controls in blood glucose measurements, when researchers looked at the levels of glucose within the skin through repetitive biopsies, it revealed that the acne patients’ skin glucose tolerance was significantly disturbed.

Here is my take: anything that leads to a transient increase in skin sugar levels can worsen acne. This obviously includes ingesting a high sugar beverage or meal, but can also include the effects of stress (cortisol); deficiency of nutrients necessary for proper utilization of insulin and glucose; and other factors that adversely effect blood sugar control (e.g., abdominal obesity).

In addition to eliminating sugar and dairy, another key factor that I have found to be important in many patients with acne is to eliminate foods high in salt (most salt is “iodized”; this means that it has iodine added to it). The reason is that many acne sufferers are extremely sensitive to too much iodine – and that can lead to acne lesions.

I also recommend eliminating fried foods and foods containing trans-fatty acids (milk, milk products, margarine, shortening and other synthetically hydrogenated vegetable oils). These fats should be avoided as they increase inflammation in sebaceous glands.

In regards to nutrients required in acne, zinc is absolutely critical and has been shown to produce fantastic results in many cases in double-blind studies. Dosage is 30-45 mg per day. Use a highly absorbable form such as zinc picolinate.

High-chromium yeast is known to improve glucose tolerance and enhance insulin sensitivity and has been reported in an uncontrolled study to induce rapid improvement in patients with acne. Other forms of chromium may offer similar benefits. Dosage 400 mcg per day.

Finally, I think it is entirely appropriate to refer to acne as “skin diabetes.” It drives home important points about the underlying cause and its treatment.


Seleit I, Bakry OA, Abdou AG, Hashim A. Body mass index, selected dietary factors, and acne severity: are they related to in situ expression of insulin-like growth factor-1? Anal Quant Cytopathol Histpathol. 2014 Oct;36(5):267-78.

Dr. Michael Murray

September 8th, 2015

Bone Health: What the Drug Companies Won’t Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn’t Know


Bone health is a critical goal for women.

In fact, there are more cases of fractures due to osteoporosis in women each year in the United States than there are the total of all women who have suffered a heart attack, stroke, or breast cancer combined. To promote bone health, conventional medicine has focused on the use of drugs, bisphosphonates, that actually lead to the formation of more brittle bones and a greater risk for fracture with prolonged use.

In contrast, there are safe and effective natural methods to improve overall bone health including bone density that are underutilized. In this informative webinar, Dr. Murray will share valuable practical information on building healthy bone through diet, lifestyle, and proper supplementation. There will also be ample time for your questions and answers.

You can sign up for the webinar here:

Taking place on Wednesday, September 23rd at 6pm PST.