So, we’ve all heard that a glass of wine can be good for you. Healthy, actually. Then we’ve all heard that it can be harmful. Throw in the mix that some of us suffer from Endometriosis…and that many women try to cut alcohol out of their lifestyle to prevent flare-ups and symptoms. Alcohol is not only harmful to our bodies and livers, but contains a lot of sugar, as well as wreaks havoc on our system. But I like me some vino!
Cutting out alcohol all together is likely your safest bet if you’re wanting to live cleaner and healthier. The liver filters out toxins, as well as estrogen, from the body. As you may have read elsewhere, Endometriosis is an estrogen-fed and reliant disease. If our livers cannot properly filter out estrogen, we are simply empowering our illness. Alcohol is also high in sugar …and we’ve previously discussed how sugar may increase your Endometriosis pain and flare-ups (read more here) . Studies have shown that alcohol may also increase estrogen levels due to phytoestrogens in alcohol…plant estrogens that mimic human estrogen (…wait…I didn’t know that. Crap.)
But, if you’re like me and you don’t want to cut it out, what can you do? What further harm are you causing? I like drinking wine, but how does it effect Endometriosis? Is it harmful? Helpful? What’s the difference between red and white wine? Seeing as I enjoy a glass of red or white (or two) with dinner or before bed, I got curious…as did a gal in our Endo Support Group. So, the research begins!
The American Heart Association recommends that if you must drink alcohol, women should limit themselves to one glass a day…that’s a 5-ounce glass of wine . Moderation, people (yeah, yeah, practice what I preach).
Wine snobs will tell you that red wine boasts more minerals and antioxidants than white. A 5-ounce glass of red wine has 0.9g of sugar (compared to 1.4g in white wine), as well as more iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin than white wine. And whenever you hear about a study of the health benefits of wine, it’s regarding red wine; not white. Prevention Magazine put out a fantastic graphic that shows the differences.
Let’s pretend that we’re not swayed from the phtyoestrogens, and we’ll continue drinking. Wine is rich in flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Okay, that’s a bonus. Most wine is also preserved by using sulphites (as is most of our food products)…which many women say increases their Endometriosis pain and flare-ups. That’s not good. Wine has resveratrol, a phytoestrogen from the skin of the grapes, that has anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic (inhibits the growth of new blood cells) properties. It may also act as a natural aromatase inhibitor. Aromatase is one of the body’s ways of producing estrogen, and if these levels are lowered, it may help with Endo growth and symptoms. Could be good. (Curious? Read the “SCIENCE” section below).
Let’s talk more about resveratrol. It’s found in red-skinned fruit, like red grapes or cranberries. It’s also in blueberries, pistachios, and peanuts. Red wine has more in it than white wine. Resveratrol has been found to reduce inflammation and lessen Endo lesions, as well as adhesions…but nobody knows the exact dosage people should take to experience benefits. On average, red wine can contain approximately 12.60 mg of resveratrol per liter. Some authors suggest you’d need to drink 3-40 liters of wine per day to reap those benefits.
Let’s put this in terms I understand : a typical bottle of wine is 750 ml. There are approximately 148 ml in 5 ounces, which is the recommended size of a glass of wine. If I had to drink 3 liters of wine per day to get the supposed health benefits of resveratrol, doing the math (thank you Google!) that’s about 20 glasses of wine…per day. Yeah, no.
Okay, scratching resveratrol off as a selling-point purely for drinking red wine. I tried. I really did…BUT…do scroll down and read about the studies between resveratrol and Endometriosis, it was fascinating!
The only study I was able to find that studied the effects of resveratrol on humans was published in 2012. It’s goal was to see if resveratrol was an effective aromatase inhibitor…patients had been surgically diagnosed with Endometriosis, and all were on oral contraceptives. They were prescribed their usual birth control pill, but were also given 30 mg of resveratrol per day. At the end of two months, many women stated they had “a significant reduction” in their pain, some had a complete resolution of pain. The authors of the study feel that the use of oral contraceptives and natural aromatase inhibitors may be an effective treatment of Endo pain. Of course, further studies are needed, as well as clinical trials.
Three separate studies in 2013 found that mice which were surgically implanted with Endometriosis, then treated with resveratrol, had less Endometriosis lesions and growth than mice that were not treated. These results may be because of the anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic properties. These studies each stressed that animal models may react differently than human models and further studies are required; however, it may prove to be a “promising candidate” and “will assist the development of novel natural treatments” for Endometriosis. Dosage amounts also need to be further studied.
Another 2013 study found that resveratrol may make Endometriomas better because of its inflammation suppression. Two similar studies were conducted in 2014 and also found a reduction in the amount and size of Endometriosis lesions. These studies state that further studies are required, especially to determine appropriate dosing.
A 2014 study focused on resveratrol and adhesion prevention. It found that rats that were given resveratrol both before and after abdominal surgery had fewer adhesions present than rats that were not given anything prior or post-op. It suggests that resveratrol might be a pre- and post-op strategy in the prevention of development post-operative adhesions.
Another study conducted in 2014 found that “high doses” of resveratrol had the potential to benefit Endometriosis treatment. I don’t think a glass of red wine a day will get us to those “high dose” levels…
In 2015, another study was conducted on rats implanted with Endometriosis, this time comparing resveratrol to three control groups : one group was given Leuprolide Acetate (Lupron Depot), a second group was given resveratrol AND Leuprolide Acetate, and the third group was given just resveratrol. It found that the rats that were given resveratrol and the rats that were given Leurpolide Acetate both had a reduction in lesions; however, the group that was given the combination of both showed a reduction in anti-inflammatory and antigiogenic properties. It cautions the use of resveratrol with other medications as it may lower efficacy.
A 2015 study suggests that women with Endometriosis may want to consider resveratrol in their diet, as well as Omega 3s, n-acetylcysteine supplements (which may reduce endometriomas), Vitamin D, fruits, veggies, and organic whole grains.
A 2016 study about angiogenesis and Endometriosis states, “currently, it is not a question whether angiogenesis is involved, but how it is involved. So far, the knowledge of how endometriotic lesions acquire angiogenic ability remains unknown.” If resveratrol can prevent Endo from forming or growing, holy hell, that’s awesome. Let’s hope research continues.
MY TWO CENTS
After reading about all of this, I’d like to reaffirm my desire to refrain from hard liquor, cut back on my beer intake, and just settle on a glass of red wine. Yes, just ONE glass. And white wine? Seeing as it doesn’t appear to have too much resveratrol, I should hurry up and finish the bottle in the fridge so I can buy more red wine… 😉 Or not. Depends on my tastes for the day and what I’m eating for dinner, I suppose.
Also, prior to today I’d never heard of resveratrol, nor it’s properties. So, I’d like to thank the curious minds for pointing me in a direction I’d never heard of. Here’s to hoping that science and medicine can further research the benefits and risks of resveratrol usage, as well as appropriate dosage, so women with Endometriosis may one day consider taking it as an alternative treatment. If you’d like to talk to your doctor about resveratrol, please do so. But don’t run out and start anything without first consulting with your physician. We still don’t know the side effects of long-term use or drug interactions.
An article put out by Harvard states that high doses of resveratrol have been shown to increase estrogen, but others have shown it reduces estrogen. It’s still a large unknown…Harvard’s article suggests that if you do want to partake of resveratrol, get it from your food and wine, not from supplements.
A subsequent Harvard article two years later stated resveratrol in your usual diet didn’t do much difference as far as health benefits go. It quotes Dr. David Sinclair as saying, “You would need to drink a hundred to a thousand glasses of red wine to equal the doses that improve health in mice.” Granted, this article is leaning more toward overall health, and not Endometriosis. It does discuss how best to purchase supplements, though, if you were interested.
Most recently, a 2017 study published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy found that although resveratrol may reduce inflammation and protect against lesions, further studies are required to determine safety and effectiveness of long-term use.
I think I’ll still enjoy partaking of minuscule amounts of resveratrol in my red wine, berries, and pistachios. No need to run out and buy supplements, or praise an unproven miracle…but, I will keep an eye out for ongoing studies of resveratrol and Endometriosis. It’s an interesting development.
Will I stop drinking alcohol? No. Fewer things are more relaxing than a glass of wine after work or an ice cold beer on a hot summer day. But I will think twice before indulging in a second or third glass now knowing that it may increase my estrogen production. Sneaky, sneaky phytoestrogens. Is wine more helpful than harmful for my Endometriosis? It’s likely more harmful with the sugar and phytoestrogens. The cons outweigh the benefits, but seeing as I don’t have flare-ups after moderate use, I don’t want to stop. Excessive use? Oh yeah, that’ll be nipped in the bud.
What are your thoughts? And cheers!
[Updated May 8, 2017]
Alcohol Health & Research World – (Article; 1998) Alcoholic Beverages as a Source of Estrogens
Biomedicne & Pharmacotherapy – (Article; 2017) Resveratrol and Endometriosis: In vitro and animal studies and underlying mechanisms (review)
EHealth Forum – Are you Making Your Endometriosis Worse, Every Day, Without Even Realising It?
Endometriosis Support – Drinking Red Wine May Slow Endometriosis
Endometriosis Update – That’s an Awful Lot of Red Wine
European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology – (Abstract; Jan. 2015)
FloLiving – How to Stop Alcohol from Messing with your Hormones
Gynecological Endocrinology – (Abstract; Nov. 2014) A Potential Novel Treatment Strategy : Inhibition of Angiogenesis and Inflammation
Harvard Health Publications – (Article; May 2014) Diet Rich in Resveratrol Offers No Health Boost
Harvard Health Publications – (Article; Feb. 2012) Resveratrol – the Hype Continues
Hormones Matter – Resveratrol from Red Grapes Blocks Endometriosis
Human Fertility – (Abstract; Sept. 2012) Resveratrol Inhibits Postoperative Adhesion Formation in a Rat Uterine Horn Adhesion Model
Human Reproduction (Abstract; 2013) Natural Therapies Assessment for the Treatment of Endometriosis
Human Reproduction – (Abstract; Jan. 2013) Resveratrol is a Potent Inhibitor of Vascularization and Cell Proliferation in Experimental Endometriosis
International Journal of Women’s Health – (Article; Oct. 2012) Advantages of the Association of Resveratrol with Oral Contraceptives for Management of Endometriosis-Related Pain
Life Extension – Endometriosis : Targeted Natural Interventions
Live Strong – How Much Red Wine Do You Need to Drink for Health Benefits?
Live Strong – How Much Red Wine Do You Need to Get Enough Resveratrol?
Medical News Today – Wine : Health Benefits and Health Risks
Pathology Discovery – (Article; Jan. 2016) Role of Angiogenesis in Endometriosis
Peace with Endo – Alcohol and Endometriosis
Prevention Magazine – Red Wine vs. White Wine
Reproductive Sciences – (Abstract; Oct. 2013) Regression of Endometrial Implants by Resveratrol in an Experimentally Induced Endometriosis Model in Rats
Reproductive Sciences – (Abstract; Nov. 2014) Resveratrol and Endometrium : A Closer Look at an Active Ingredient of Red Wine Using In Vivo and In Vitro Models
SciFlo – (Article; Dec. 2015) Nutritional Aspects Related to Endometriosis
The Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics – (Abstract; July 2014) Resveratrol Successfully Treats Experimental Endometriosis Through Modulation of Oxidative Stress and Lipid Peroxidation
The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research – (Article; Dec. 2013) Resveratrol Suppresses Inflammatory Responses in Edometrial Stromal Cells Derived from Endometriosis : A Possible Role of the Sirtuin 1 Pathway
The World’s Healthiest Foods – Flavonoids
Vital Health Institute – What does Aromatase have to do with My Endometriosis?
~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa