Resveratrol's main contribution regarding cancer is in optimizing your body terrain—reducing inflammation and oxidative stress that are known to support cancer development and growth. It's used widely in integrative programs.
Resveratrol has shown limited anticancer action in clinical studies. Animal studies show resveratrol may reduce toxicity to the heart from doxorubicin and protect the lining of the digestive system from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Resveratrol is found in grape skins and seeds, peanuts and other foods but is usually used as a supplement. Supplements are generally low-cost and widely available.
Cautions are noted about interactions with a few prescription drugs. Before using resveratrol, consult your oncology team about interactions with other treatments and therapies. Also make sure resveratrol is safe for use with any other medical conditions you may have.
Evidence of Effectiveness
Optimizing Your Body Terrain
Managing Side Effects
Reducing Cancer Risk
Use by Integrative Oncology Experts
Affordability and Ease of Access
Details and Evidence
Nancy Hepp, MS, BCCT Project Manager
Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, BCCT Senior Researcher
Last updated April 7, 2021.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol, a group of compounds thought to act as antioxidants in the body, reducing oxidative stress.
Although grape skin and seeds are rich in resveratrol, and red wine is a natural source, it is usually consumed as a dietary supplement. Other food sources of resveratrol include peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa and dark chocolate.
Treating the Cancer
Working against cancer growth or spread, improving survival, or working with other treatments or therapies to improve their anticancer action
- Increased markers of cell death (apoptosis) in cancerous liver tissue in patients with colorectal cancer and liver metastases1
- Reduced tumor cell proliferation by 5 percent in a small study of colorectal cancer patients2
Lab and Animal Evidence
Optimizing Your Terrain
Creating an environment within your body that does not support cancer development, growth or spread
Lab and Animal Evidence
Managing Side Effects and Promoting Wellness
Managing or relieving side effects or symptoms, reducing treatment toxicity, supporting quality of life or promoting general well-being
Lab and Animal Evidence
Reducing the risk of developing cancer or the risk of recurrence
- Resveratrol inhibited a major risk factor for colon cancer development in normal linings of the colon (colonic mucosa) but did not inhibit colon cancer in a small study of colon cancer patients.27
Lab and Animal Evidence
- Suppressed colon tumor incidence in mice using resveratrol and grape seed extract, similar to sulindac and without any gastrointestinal toxicity28
- Impaired the growth of colorectal aberrant crypt foci in rats29
The “About Herbs” description of resveratrol cautions patients with hormone-sensitive cancers about using resveratrol supplements. However, while resveratrol exhibits estrogen-like properties, neither of its metabolites do, and so metabolized resveratrol from foods does not display estrogen-mimicking activity in the body.30 Some clinicians actually suggest using resveratrol supplements in some estrogen-influenced cancers, such as uterine.31
Resveratrol is generally well tolerated, although high doses can cause gastrointestinal disturbance. Resveratrol should not be used in conjunction with a few prescription drugs, including antiplatelet drugs, cytochrome P450 substrates and carbamazepine. Patients using any of these medications should consult a medical professional before using resveratrol.
Resveratrol supplements are widely available in drug stores at generally low cost.
BCCT does not recommend therapies or doses, but only provides information for patients and providers to consider as part of a complete treatment plan. Patients should discuss therapies with their physicians, as contraindications, interactions and side effects must be evaluated.
Levels of active ingredients of natural products can vary widely between and even within products. See Quality and Sources of Herbs, Supplements and Other Natural Products.
Dosage recommendations are available from these sources:
- Solutions 4 Health
- Breast Cancer Wellness Plan
- Colorectal Cancer Wellness Plan
- Lung Cancer Wellness Plan
- Lymphoma Wellness Plan
- Melanoma Wellness Plan
- Prostate Cancer Wellness Plan
- Natural Medicines Database (requires purchase)
- Also see protocols below.
Integrative Programs, Protocols and Medical Systems
|For more information about programs and protocols, see our Integrative Programs and Protocols page.|
- Programs and protocols
- Alschuler & Gazella complementary approaches34
- Bastyr University Integrative Oncology Research Center protocol for stage IV breast cancer35
- Block program36
- Lemole, Mehta & McKee protocols37
- McKinney protocols38
Non-cancer Uses of Resveratrol
Resveratrol is used in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and cardiovascular disease. It may protect the liver in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and it has increased insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients. Resveratrol has been applied topically to reduce acne. BCCT has not reviewed the effectiveness of this therapy for non-cancer uses.
Note: BCCT has not conducted an independent review of research of resveratrol. This summary draws from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s About Herbs and other sources as noted.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center About Herbs: Resveratrol
- TRC Natural Medicines: Resveratrol (subscription required): in-depth information, ratings of effectiveness and safety and evaluation of specific resveratrol products
- Consumer Labs: Product Review: Resveratrol Supplements (Grape, Red Wine, and Polygonum Sources)
- Moss Reports (purchase required): Select from the list of cancers down the left side of the page for a report describing uses of conventional, complementary, alternative and integrative therapies related to that cancer. Ralph Moss is among the most knowledgeable and balanced researchers of integrative cancer therapies. The cost of his Moss Reports is not negligible, but many patients find them of considerable value. Moss is also available for consultations.
- ClinicalTrials.gov: studies involving resveratrol
- Block KI, Block PB, Gyllenhaal C: Integrative Treatment for Colorectal Cancer
- Barbara MacDonald, ND, LAc: The Breast Cancer Companion: A Complementary Care Manual: Third Edition
- Keith Block and others: A Broad-Spectrum Integrative Design for Cancer Prevention and Therapy
- Dwight McKee, MD, editor: Clinical Pearls
- EmpowHER: Keith Block: My Activity
- Donald I. Abrams, MD, and Andrew T. Weil, MD: Integrative Oncology, 2nd Edition
- Neil McKinney, BSc, ND: Naturopathic Oncology, 3rd Edition
- Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, and Karolyn Gazella: The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition
- Keith I. Block, MD: Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment
- Lone Star Medical Group: Natural Alternative Treatments