Emodin – a moving substance

Since I started taking 600mg a day of trans-resveratrol, my bowel movements have become reliably punctual, sometimes almost overly so.  If you are taking large doses of resveratrol and are experiencing the same phenomenon or worse, it may be due to emodin, an impurity commonly found in commercial resveratrol supplements.  Among other properties, it is a laxative.  Emodin is a phyto plant substance present in rhubarb and in aloe vera leaves.  Emodin is also present in Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), the source ingredient of most  resveratrol   supplements.  It may not all be removed in refining resveratrol and can represent more than 5% of the content of a marketed resveratrol supplement capsule.  Discussion of this impurity has appeared in an Imminst.org forum on resveratrol. 

The amount of the impurity varies significantly by product.  Most popular suppliers of resveratrol (including Swanson Vitamins, NSI, Country Life, Biotivia, Life Extension InstituteJarrow Formulas, source Naturals and Puritan’s Pride) do not disclose emodin content in their resveratrol labels.  Revgenetics is an exception and has posted laboratory analyses showing emodin is .1% present in their “99% pure” resveratrol product(ref) and .7% present in their “50% pure” product(ref).  Some grape-based resveratrol products avoid emodin completely(ref). 

Despite its laxative effects, emodin may offer health benefits of its own such as a cancer-preventative ones. It may inhibit cell growth and angiogenesis in human colon cancers(ref), It “could be a useful chemotherapeutical agent for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma(ref),”  “Emodin affects the expression of genes involved in various cellular functions and plays important roles in cell apoptosis, tumor metastasis and chemotherapy-resistance, which suggests emodin might become an effective chemopreventive or chemotherapeutic agent for small cell lung cancer(ref),” “Emodin induces apoptosis in human promyeloleukemic HL-60 cells—(ref).”  Further, Emodin has unique antibacterial properties, “taking into account its unique cytotoxicity profile and mode of action, aloe-emodin might represent a conceptually new lead antitumor drug(ref).” And emodin is “a potential lead compound for further anti-bacterial drug discovery(ref).”  To sum it up, emodin appears to be another phyochemical whose possibly important health properties are just-now being systematically explored.

Personally I am taking a resveratrol supplement with less than 1% emodin content and find the laxative effect definitely present but tolerable.  If you are experiencing diarrhea due to taking a large amounts of resveratrol, you might want to switch to a different brand with lower emodin content. 

About Vince Giuliano

Being a follower, connoisseur, and interpreter of longevity research is my latest career. I have been at this part-time for well over a decade, and in 2007 this became my mainline activity. In earlier reincarnations of my career. I was founding dean of a graduate school and a university professor at the State University of New York, a senior consultant working in a variety of fields at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Chief Scientist and C00 of Mirror Systems, a software company, and an international Internet consultant. I got off the ground with one of the earliest PhD's from Harvard in a field later to become known as computer science. Because there was no academic field of computer science at the time, to get through I had to qualify myself in hard sciences, so my studies focused heavily on quantum physics. In various ways I contributed to the Computer Revolution starting in the 1950s and the Internet Revolution starting in the late 1980s. I am now engaged in doing the same for The Longevity Revolution. I have published something like 200 books and papers as well as over 430 substantive.entries in this blog, and have enjoyed various periods of notoriety. If you do a Google search on Vincent E. Giuliano, most if not all of the entries on the first few pages that come up will be ones relating to me. I have a general writings site at www.vincegiuliano.com and an extensive site of my art at www.giulianoart.com. Please note that I have recently changed my mailbox to vegiuliano@agingsciences.com.
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3 Responses to Emodin – a moving substance

  1. Res says:

    Hi Vince
    I was talking megaresveratrol 99%
    I have a nagging feeling that many of these resveratrol suppliers are putting rice poweder in them. And the result may not even make it to 500grams or even half that as they advertise.

    Sometimes the entire capsule when opened smells and tastes like plain rice powder.

    Unless we have more professional medicine suppliers get into the resveratrol business, we cannot avoid such fraudsters I guess.

    So rather than emodin, I worry if these contain plain rice powder.. :-))


  2. admin says:

    A good concern. The brands of resvertrol are US but my impression is that the major suppliers of the bulk resveratrol ingredients are Chinese or Indian. When I look at the labels of several brands of resveratrol I see remarkable agreement in the listing of “other ingredients” (including no mention of emodin though it is near-certain to be there for a knotweed-derived product). This leads me to suspect that the supplement companies are taking the word of their Chinese or Indian suppliers and simply putting the stuff they buy in bulk into pills without even doing their own analyses. If they get shipped rice powder, they put the rice powder in their capsules. Revgenetics is fairly unique in publishing an independent laboratory analysis of content. They also report having had to reject bad batches of resveratrol shipped to them.

    As for me personally, as long as I am experiencing the emodin laxative effect I know I must be getting a good dose of resveratrol. Of course this does not address the absence of quality-control issue you mention which applies to the supplement industry in general.

  3. Great post, I have to agree with Mike here, in that the hardest solutions are often the most rewarding in the end.

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