Pterostilbene: Funny Name but Powerful, Versatile Nutrient

February 26, 2018 | Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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Pterostilbene: Funny Name but Powerful, Versatile Nutrient
Like many plant-based nutrients, pterostilbene is impressive. Pterostilbene is a type of stilbene which are natural phenols found in grapes, blueberries, berries, and peanuts. Individuals may be more familiar with resveratrol as it is the nutrient famous for its benefits found in grapes and red wine. Pterostilbene, a derivative of resveratrol is found in blueberries. Pterostilbene studies have shown benefits across a diverse array of concerns such as Candida albicans biofilms, various cancers and chemoprevention, brain injury, obesity, aging, energy disorders, heart attacks, along with cholesterol and blood sugar support

Pterostilbene shares many similar properties as its plant phenol cousin resveratrol. Pterostilbene is specifically noted for its strong pharmacological activities, metabolic stability and superior absorption. It permeates into cell membranes and has a long-lasting effect, which gives it excellent bioavailability and utilization. Studies often combine pterostilbene and resveratrol for their dual relationship.

Aging, Brain, and Alzheimer’s Disease


Pterostilbene and resveratrol have great potential for prevention of several age-related diseases and may be the “fountain of youth” cousins. Evidence shows us that pterostilbene acts as a powerful antioxidant against several different types of free radicals that contribute to inflammation and aging. It can quench glutamate-induced oxidative stress injury and reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are both noxious to tissues, especially the brain, and contribute to neurodegeneration, brain aging, fibromyalgia and chronic pain

Cellular studies show pterostilbene combats brain changes associated with aging and dementia. Because of its structure, pterostilbene has a higher affinity for the brain’s fatty composition, making it more easily utilized in the brain than resveratrol, but both compounds are powerful inhibitors of NF-kappaB and quench brain inflammation seen with Alzheimer’s disease

Pterostilbene helps the antioxidant enzyme systems glutathione and SOD which are powerful system-wide antioxidants. It can block injury in the hippocampus or memory center of the brain caused by high blood sugar. Pterostilbene reduces DNA damage and toxic metabolite build-up in the corneas of the eyes that causes age-related vision loss. It helps protect eyes against oxidative stress that leads to dry eyes

Pterostilbene protects against UVB damage to the skin that causes wrinkles and increased skin cancer risk. It helps protect the liver from high blood sugar and diabetes. It helps protect the heart against damage from high blood pressure. Numerous anti-inflammatory pathways are benefited by pterostilbene and resveratrol. Even in high calorie, nutrient poor diets, these nutrients are able to activate SIRT1, AMPK and other metabolic pathways that are integral to metabolism and calorie burning.

BioFilms,Candida, and Other Germs


In the quest to find effective support against biofilms and stealth germs, pterostilbene shows itself to be effective tool against the battle of antibiotic and antifungal drug resistance. Biofilms are sophisticated, impenetrable walls created by germs to hide themselves from the immune system. This defense system makes these germs nearly impermeable to treatment and is part of the battle against antibiotic and antifungal drug resistance. Animal cell studies showed evidence that pterostilbene was able to break down challenging Candida albicans biofilms. Other unique research on skin infections with Staph aureus and MRSA showed that topical pterostilbene was greatly helpful. Pterostilbene showed topical germ-killing activity, while it helped the skin heal and reduce biofilm thickness.

Cancer Research


The International Journal of Molecular Science, January 2018, reported on pterostilbene’s effect on cancer as current cancer treatment strategies have shown increased drug resistance and metastasis which leads to higher mortality rates. As a result, these researchers turned to alternative medicine and pterostilbene for answers. “Cumulative evidence has pointed out that pterostilbene has excellent pharmacological benefits for the prevention and treatment for various types of cancers in their different stages of progression by evoking apoptotic or nonapoptotic anti-cancer activities”. In other words, pterostilbene has the ability to affect and kill various types of cancer cells at different cell life stages. The authors concluded and proposed “pterostilbene is one ideal alternative medicine to be administered in the diet as a nutritional supplement”.

Other new research shows that pterostilbene and resveratrol have the ability to target signaling pathways of cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells are considered the root of cancers, its reoccurrences, and metastasis. Pterostilbene and resveratrol are strong epigenetic modifiers or have the ability to alter the gene expression in a healthy manner. New research shows that these two compounds can alter DNA methylation and modulate mRNA expression and act as a type of “chemoprevention”.

Plant phenols help target inflammation, which drives the start of cancer, cancer growth and metastasis, and ultimately drug resistance. Pterostilbene, resveratrol, and other plant antioxidants are seen as promising support because of their ability to quench inflammation, when added to a cancer treatment program or used as chemopreventative.

Cellular studies show pterostilbene inhibits cancer cell proliferation and viability in pancreatic cancer which is one of the toughest cancers to beat. Regarding prostate cancer, studies show pterostilbene and resveratrol as an “attractive chemopreventative and therapeutic strategy”. Other research shows when resveratrol and pterostilbene are combined, they create a synergistic inhibitory effect against triple negative breast cancer cells. Natural compounds like pterostilbene and resveratrol have been targeted as treatment support for oral cancer

Energy and Sports


Pterostilbene may help with physical energy and athletic endurance. Due to its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to down regulate TNF-alpha, IL-6, COX-2, and C-reactive protein and others, pterostilbene helps quench exercise-induced oxidative stress

For those with age-related fatigue or fatigue disorders, early research indicates potential benefit for energy support. In a recent first-of-its-kind, human clinical trial, participants ages 60 to 80 years of age were given an activated metabolite of niacin with pterostilbene. After 8 weeks of supplementation in this randomized, double-blinded, placebo control study, the energy compound NAD was markedly increased, which led to improved energy, stamina, endurance and exercise tolerance.

Heart and Kidneys


Research published in December 2017 demonstrated that pterostilbene helps reduce injury to the heart after a heart attack in animals. Damage to the heart during a heart attack comes from the initial loss of oxygen and also the rush of oxygen back to the tissues, i.e. ischemia-reperfusion injury. The sudden change and stress of incident causes a massive rush of inflammatory chemicals which causes injury and death to the heart cells. Animals treated with pterostilbene immediately after the heart attack had significantly less injury and fewer cardiac cells die. Researchers view pterostilbene as a potential new strategy to support recovery after a heart attack.

In animal heart failure studies, pterostilbene helped reduce cardiac blood vessel stiffness and unhealthy remodeling. Initial cellular studies suggest that pterostilbene and resveratrol may help prevent pathological heart enlargement that often leads to heart failure.

A similar type of ischemic-reperfusion injury can happen to the kidneys in acute renal failure. Research published January 2018 demonstrates that pterostilbene was also able to protect kidneys from ischemic-reperfusion injury. Treatment with pterostilbene offset acute injury and damaging oxidative stress in the kidneys.

Fat Burning


Research published January 2018 identified numerous positive effects on obesity and metabolism for both pterostilbene and resveratrol. Cellular and animal studies show that pterostilbene and resveratrol work synergistically to reduce fat cells and make them more metabolically fit. Thermogenesis or the burning of fat and calories increases in white adipose tissue and brown adipose tissue and reduction of inflammation within white adipose tissue occurs with pterostilbene and resveratrol. Disruption to the gut flora and microbiome occurs with obesity, but pterostilbene and resveratrol can protect against this imbalance.

Pterostilbene and resveratrol are “super cousins” in nutrition. Evidence shows these nutrients work together amazingly well and complement each other. Just like a diet needs to have a variety of different foods, it is also necessary to have a family of nutrients to support the diverse needs of the body. Pterostilbene may be also used with other nutrients like curcumin, grape seed extract, fisetin, tocotrienols, quercetin, lycopene, astaxanthin and other plant-based nutrients that have stellar reputations. This blueberry-derived nutrient offers remarkable diverse, versatile, superior absorption and benefits in the conundrum of inflammation-related disorders and aging.

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