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When I learn a new word or start actually speaking or writing one that’s been in my head, it seems like I start to see it everywhere.

Resveratrol has been part of my cocoon vocabulary for about eight years now, ready to emerge.

Polyphenol resveratrol is found in plants and fruits, including red grapes used to make wine. Scientists and others have become pretty excited about it because it may slow aging, and articles crop up fairly regularly about it being tested to fight cancer and depression, reduce the risk of heart disease, and prevent insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

About eight years ago, a wonderful friend was battling prostate cancer. A distant cousin of mine who was part of the Waldorf community where Ben and I taught collected funds to pay for resveratrol supplements to help our friend who lost his battle with tremendous dignity. So resveratrol has been on my radar screen ever since, but in the last few years, as our daughter grows into a beautiful young girl, it’s a topic about which I’m slowly becoming more fluent.

A new study has shown that resveratrol restores neuron formation in animals with a similar condition to trisomy 21 (also known as Down syndrome, which is caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21—hence trisomy 21).The study was conducted by the Institute of Biomembranes and Bioenergetics of the National Research Council in collaboration with the Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience and Sense Organs of the University of Bari, the Department of Neuroscience and Brain Technologies of the Italian Institute of Technology, and the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm), and results have been published.Familienphoto

Wow! I believe for the first time since I began this blog a month ago, I have used the words “Down syndrome,” instead of how I prefer to characterize my daughter’s “condition,” that she was born with an extra chromosome. That is definitely a topic for another blog entry! What is most important for today’s entry is the heart-surging hope for all parents and loved ones who may benefit from this study, continued research about it, and clinical trials that could be organized.

Another blog topic will be our daughter’s nutritional regimen which we believe has helped her immensely. We also know, as I have written before, that we are very lucky. I’ll have to explore all kinds of things, including thoughts I have not even processed out loud to myself, about the word “spectrum,” but many specialists say to Ben and me soon after meeting Ellen, “Oh, you know she’s on the high end of the spectrum.”

In my heart, I know this, and am mightily grateful that Ellen’s issues are relatively minor. But I wake up every day tuned into the extra chromosome, just like I knew from about age 8 onward that I was gay. I did not want to be “different,” but now I thank the universe that I am. I’m pretty sure Ellen will find peace with herself much sooner than I did. I can be a champion not only for Ellen, but for others with an extra chromosome. I know when Ben and I first learned about trisomy 21, I didn’t know where to start. Maybe for those reading and following my blog, a community of minds can help accelerate progress being made with research about resveratrol and other advances.

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