Can Resveratrol, A Compound In Grapes, Treat Acne?

Can resveratrol, a compound found in grapes, be used to combat acne? Authors of a recent study published in Dermatology and Therapy believe it can. The article claims resveratrol might be an effective treatment for acne, especially if it is paired with existing acne fighting treatments, according to Medical News Today. Resveratrol is a natural phenol and a phytoalexin that is produced naturally by several kinds of plants, including grapes.

Benzoyl peroxide is an oxidant that produces free radicals that kill P. acnes bacteria which has long been used to treat acne, the researchers at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine’s division of dermatology explained. However, sometimes it can cause irritation, itching, and peeling skin.

“Resveratrol is the same substance that has prompted some doctors to recommend that adults drink red wine for its heart-health properties. The antioxidant stops the formation of free radicals, which cause cell and tissue damage,” the UCLA press release stated. “Benzoyl peroxide is an oxidant that works by creating free radicals that kill the acne bacteria.”

The Geffen School of Medicine team applied resveratrol, benzoyl peroxide, and then a combination of both to colonies of P. acnes bacteria to compare how well the substances treated acne. Benzoyl peroxide, as expected, killed the acne-causing bacteria, but the effect only lasted 24 hours.

Resveratrol’s effects lasted 48 hours at a concentration of at least 50 ug/mL. Researchers said that it seemed to kill acne-causing bacteria by weakening the outer membrane of the bacteria.

The combination of resveratrol and benzoyl peroxide was the most effective treatment for acne because it killed all bacteria at all concentrations and the effects of the combination lasted longer.

“It was like combining the best of both worlds and offering a two-pronged attack on the bacteria,” senior author Dr. Jenny Kim explained.

“We initially thought that since actions of the two compounds are opposing, the combination should cancel the other out, but they didn’t,” co-author Dr. Taylor said. “This study demonstrates that combining an oxidant and an antioxidant may enhance each other and help sustain bacteria-fighting activity over a longer period of time.”

Resveratrol also caused less irritation to the skin, so being able to use less benzoyl peroxide would leave less irritation if a product that combined both substances were used in an acne treatment.

“We hope that our findings lead to a new class of acne therapies that center on antioxidants such as resveratrol,” Dr. Taylor said.

Resveratrol, once called the “magic ingredient in red wine that makes you live longer” and heralded by University of Leicester researchers as the ingredient that halved the rate of bowel tumors in mice, might soon find its way into the cosmetic bag for its apparent ability to also treat acne.

[Image has been cropped to fit. Photo credit: Tomas Castelazo]