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Forget Reseveratrol: Meet Pterostilbene, a Nootropic and Anti-Aging Supplement

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For a few years resveratrol was touted as the new fountain of youth. This was partially the result of over 145 claims in academic journals that were later found to be false. Dr. Dipak Das committed the cardinal sin of science. 19 of his papers were retracted in August of 2013. He died one month later. The claims made in his fabricated findings continue to linger in the popular mind. In theory resveratrol could have amazing effects on the human body, and while its absorption is fairly high, it is rapidly metabolized and eliminated when taken by mouth (Walle, 2011). Pterostilbene – that’s with a silent p, like pterodactyl –  is highly bioavailable, which explains why it is bringing the benefits its sister molecule fails to deliver. I am happy to have in my possession some of the best pterostilbene money can buy. 

Dr. Agnes M. Rimando, a world-renowned expert on ptero and its kin, has stated: “stilbenes have diverse pharmacological activities, which include cancer prevention, a cholesterol-lowering effect, enhanced insulin sensitivity, and increased life span.” The effects of calorie restriction have been the only well-tested means of substantially extending mammalian lifespans. By activating the same genes as fasting,. Pterostilbene is a CR mimetic. In fact, the way it reduces the production of inflammatory agents, those linked with a host of nasty age-related diseases (nearly all of them), is “virtually identical” to the way this is achieved through caloric restriction. Chang et. al found that even in low dose pterostilbene acts as a formidable neuromodulator in SAMP8 mice. In these same accelerated aging models, however, resveratrol had no discernible impact. By preventing oxidative damage in the brain, pterostilbene is among the most promising neuroprotectants out there (Polouse, 2015). It has also been shown to to improve cognitive function in rats, as measured by those iconic mazes we and our little lab rodents have come to love.

As a means of suppressing NF-κB, a key proinflammatory protein complex responsible for cytokine production, Ptero has been pitted against severe pancreatitis with success (Bhakkiyalakshmi, 2014). More broadly, this property can be potentially used to address a variety of ailments as a preventative or therapeutic measure that extends to cancer, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.  One study has shown protection against atherosclerosis, presumably through the combined powers of its inflammation fighting and caloric restriction mimicking properties. Another has show that it upregulates autophagy to ward off the artery-hardening proclivities of low density lipoprotein and vascular endothelial cells (Zhang, 2013). Preliminary studies also point to usefulness in managing ischemic reperfusion injuries (Cheng, 2016).

As previously mentioned, PT can be thought of as a way of “fooling” the body into thinking it is fasting. No, this will not result in fat loss (at least no directly), but the sirtuin activation has been known to combat many of the hallmarks of aging, including genomic instability, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cell cycle dysregulation. It is not surprising that it has been repeatedly found to inhibit the growth of malignant cells (Rimsburg, 2008). Pterostilbene also improves insulin sensitivity, where it, once again, greatly outshines resveratrol (Tastekin, 2008). Its effects in this realm are comparable to metformin (Pari, 2006); it also appears to help balance blood lipid ratios in diabetics (Satheesh, 2008).

Pterostilbene can be found in some fruits, blueberries being a particularly abundant source. However, you would need to eat approximately 140 cups of blueberries to get a mere 3 milligrams of ptero. Up to this point a reader may conclude, if they are foolish enough to put their absolute trust in an internet provocateur, that resveratrol has fewer redeeming qualities than Dr. Das. This is not the case. It has been widely speculated that taking resveratrol, when taken in conjunction with pterostilbene, can work synergistically (Lange, 2018). Whether there is enough evidence for this to justify buying both or splurging on a more expensive supplement containing multiple stilbenes is up to the consumer. For those looking for an inexpensive and potent brand of pterostilbene, look no further than Double Wood supplements for the best pterostilbene.

Works Cited

Bhakkiyalakshmi, Elango, et al. “Therapeutic potential of pterostilbene against pancreatic beta‐cell apoptosis mediated through Nrf2.” British journal of pharmacology 171.7 (2014): 1747-1757.

Chang, Jaewon, et al. “Low-dose pterostilbene, but not resveratrol, is a potent neuromodulator in aging and Alzheimer’s disease.” Neurobiology of aging 33.9 (2012): 2062-2071.

Cherniack, E. Paul. “A berry thought-provoking idea: the potential role of plant polyphenols in the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders.” British Journal of Nutrition 108.5 (2012): 794-800.

Cheng, Y., Di, S., Fan, C., Cai, L., Gao, C., Jiang, P., … & Li, T. (2016). SIRT1 activation by pterostilbene attenuates the skeletal muscle oxidative stress injury and mitochondrial dysfunction induced by ischemia reperfusion injury. Apoptosis, 21(8), 905-916.

Guo, Y., Zhang, L., Li, F., Hu, C. P., & Zhang, Z. (2016). Restoration of sirt1 function by pterostilbene attenuates hypoxia-reoxygenation injury in cardiomyocytes. European journal of pharmacology, 776, 26-33

Lange, Klaus W., and Shiming Li. “Resveratrol, pterostilbene, and dementia.” BioFactors 44.1 (2018): 83-90.

Joseph, J. A., Fisher, D. R., Cheng, V., Rimando, A. M., & Shukitt-Hale, B. (2008). Cellular and behavioral effects of stilbene resveratrol analogues: implications for reducing the deleterious effects of aging. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 56(22), 10544-10551.

McCormack, Denise, and David McFadden. “Pterostilbene and cancer: current review.” Journal of Surgical Research173.2 (2012): e53-e61.

McFadden, David. “A review of pterostilbene antioxidant activity and disease modification.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity 2013 (2013).

Rimando, Agnes M., and Nanjoo Suh. “Biological/chemopreventive activity of stilbenes and their effect on colon cancer.” Planta medica 74.13 (2008): 1635-1643.

Saw, Constance Lay Lay, et al. “The berry constituents quercetin, kaempferol, and pterostilbene synergistically attenuate reactive oxygen species: involvement of the Nrf2-ARE signaling pathway.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 72 (2014): 303-311.

Paul, Shiby, et al. “Anti-inflammatory action of pterostilbene is mediated through the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway in colon cancer cells.” Cancer prevention research(2009): 1940-6207.

Pari, L., and M. Amarnath Satheesh. “Effect of pterostilbene on hepatic key enzymes of glucose metabolism in streptozotocin-and nicotinamide-induced diabetic rats.” Life sciences 79.7 (2006): 641-645.

Poulose, Shibu M., et al. “Effects of pterostilbene and resveratrol on brain and behavior.” Neurochemistry International 89 (2015): 227-233.

Remsberg, C. M., Yáñez, J. A., Ohgami, Y., Vega‐Villa, K. R., Rimando, A. M., & Davies, N. M. (2008). Pharmacometrics of pterostilbene: preclinical pharmacokinetics and metabolism, anticancer, antiinflammatory, antioxidant and analgesic activity. Phytotherapy Research, 22(2), 169-179.

Satheesh, Marudamuthu Amarnath, and Leelavinothan Pari. “Effect of pterostilbene on lipids and lipid profiles in streptozotocin-nicotinamide induced type 2 diabetes mellitus.” Journal of Applied Biomedicine (De Gruyter Open) 6.1 (2008).

Tastekin, Bora, et al. “Therapeutic Potential of Pterostilbene and Resveratrol on Biomechanic, Biochemical, and Histological Parameters in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2018 (2018).

Walle T. Bioavailability of resveratrol. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011;1215:9-15.  (PubMed)

Zhang, L., Cui, L., Zhou, G., Jing, H., Guo, Y., & Sun, W. (2013). Pterostilbene, a natural small-molecular compound, promotes cytoprotective macroautophagy in vascular endothelial cells. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 24(5), 903-911.