Quercetin is a plant pigment that is soluble in water and belongs to the genre known as bioflavonoids. The substance functions like an antihistamine or a drug used to treat allergies and possess anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant actions of quercetin helps in safeguarding the LDL cholesterol, also called the 'bad cholesterol' from destruction. This is a vital function of quercetin keeping in view the fact that cardiologists consider damage of LDL cholesterol to be the fundamental reason for heart disease. In addition, quercetin is known to obstruct the secretion of an enzyme that results to the build up of sorbitol - a substance related to the damage of the nerve, eyes and kidneys among diabetes patients. Despite this, no research carried on humans so far have shown that quercetin has any useful effect on the substance for diabetic conditions.
The plant pigment quercetin that is a member of the bioflavonoid family is greatly accountable for most of the colors of the fruits, vegetable and flowers. On the other hand, flavonoids like quercetin are also useful to the humans as they supply several health enhancement advantages. These flavonoids function as antihistamines and help in lessening allergies and at the same time alleviate inflammation or swelling and pains linked to arthritis. In addition, quercetin also functions as antioxidants and cleans up the damaged particles or free radicals in the body. These free radicals crop up biologically in the body and have the ability to destroy cell membranes, aggravate the aging process, interrelate with inherent substances and also lead to a number of ailments such as heart disease and cancer. Hence, antioxidants like quercetin are able to counteract the free radicals and help in lessening and also preventing the damages caused by them.
It has been found that quercetin has the potential to become an effective remedy for prevention and treatment of several disorders. Moreover, it has been observed that quercetin is most effective to treat allergies and inflammations when it is used with a digestive enzyme found in pineapples - bromelain. Listed below are a few health conditions quercetin is used for.
- Heart disease
- Several researches conducted on quercetin in the laboratories as well as on animals and people have shown that bio-flavonoids like quercetin, resveratrol and catechins - which are all present in substantial proportions in red wine - have the potential to help in lessening the hazard of atherosclerosis, accumulation of cholesterol in arteries that may lead to heart attacks or strokes. It may be mentioned here that quercetin also functions like antioxidants and helps in preventing as well as protecting the body from damages caused by LDL or 'bad cholesterol'. This way, quercetin helps in thwarting death from heart ailments. However, studies conducted on quercetin so far are inadequate and more researches are required to understand the therapeutic properties of the nutrient better and utilize them in a proper manner for good health.
- Laboratory as well as animal tests with quercetin have shown that this plant pigment possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Test tube studies conducted with quercetin have established that the nutrient has the ability to restrict the kind of swelling and pain in the joints associated with arthritis. Moreover, there have been reports that when people suffering from rheumatic arthritis changes their diet from the normal Western foodstuff to vegetarian foods like plenty of raw berries, fruits, vegetables, nuts, roots, seeds as wells as sprouts enclosing several antioxidants, including quercetin, their conditions improved significantly.
- Eye disorders
- It is believed that the free radicals or reactive molecules present in the body lead to most eye problems, including cataracts and macular degeneration - a common old age eye disorder in which the lens are damaged often resulting to loss of vision. Since flavonoids like quercetin help in counteracting the free radicals, they are helpful in preventing as well as treating such eye problems. A study conducted with 3,072 adults suffering from macular degeneration showed that administering red wine - a rich source of quercetin - helped in curing them of the disorder. As most dark colored berries like blueberries, blackberries and dark cherries also enclose rich proportions of flavonoids, many physicians recommend eating them frequently to thwart the risk of macular degeneration as well as treating the disorder. At the same time, studies on animals have shown that quercetin possesses certain compounds that restrict the progress of cataracts.
- Allergies, asthma, hay fever and hives
- According to researchers, quercetin restricts the secretion as well as discharge of histamine and other substances that cause allergies and inflammations in the body. It may be noted here that histamine is a material that gives rise to allergic indications like running nose, hives, watery eyes and puffiness of the tender tissues, including the facial and lips.
- Like in the instance of arthritis, people suffering from fibromyalgia, a physical disorder that causes aches and exhaustion, who changed their diet from the conventional Western food to vegetarian habits with intake of high levels of flavonoids like quercetin found improvements in their condition.
- Canker sores
- Quercetin also has the potential to lessen the rate of recurrence of mouth sores and yield gentle indications of respite.
- High cholesterol
- Studies have shown that flavonoids such as quercetin present in red wine or orange juice have the potential to lower cholesterol levels in the body.
- Since long scientists have been of the opinion that flavonoids obtained from fruits and vegetables, including quercetin, may be used to thwart the hazard of developing cancer and recent laboratory tests have only confirmed this view. In fact, during laboratory tests as well as experiments on animals, quercetin and other flavonoids have been effective in restricting the growth of cancer cells, including those of the colon, prostate, breast and lung tumors.
During one study conducted on humans, eleven people suffering from various kinds of cancer were subjected to quercetin. The study noted that the use of quercetin had helped in diminishing the tumor size in two people, while the nutrient had actually restricted the functioning of a particular protein that is said to play an important part in the development of tumors in the remaining nine persons. This study has shown the need for more such researches on quercetin vis-à-vis prevention and cure of cancer.
In fact, the success of several studies have made the researchers optimist about the possibility of manufacturing anti-cancer drugs with quercetin and other flavonoids to prevent as well as treat this fatal disease. While the scientists are hopeful of flavonoids improving the action of anti-cancer drugs, there is a dispute on whether antioxidants like quercetin and other flavonoids should be carried simultaneously with chemotherapy to treat cancer patients.
- Prostate health
- A number of studies conducted with quercetin have shown that the nutrient helps in alleviating pain as well as other indication of prostatitis or inflammation of the prostate among men. On the other hand, initial laboratory tests have displayed that quercetin has the potential to restrict the development of prostate cancer cells in test tubes. However, scientists and researchers are still undecided how the results of the laboratory tests would actually help in preventing and treating prostate cancer in men.
- Other medical uses
- Edema, Gout, Peptic ulcer, Retinopathy.
Sources of quercetin
Substantial amounts of quercetin are present in onions, apples as well as black tea. Beans and many green leafy vegetables also possess smaller amounts of quercetin.
Deficiencies and susceptibility
No research conducted on quercetin so far has been able to establish any clear sign of deficit of the substance in any person.
Normally, physicians recommend taking 400 mg of quercetin as a general enhancement twice or thrice every day.
Side effects and cautions
None of the studies conducted on quercetin have found any toxic element in this water soluble plant pigment. Incidentally, early researchers were of the opinion that administering heavy doses of quercetin could lead to cancer among animals. However, modern day researches have proved this wrong and established that quercetin was safe for use. In fact, the recent researches on quercetin have even found the substance to be helpful in providing protection from cancer. Quercetin is normally taken with vitamin C in view of the fact that flavonoids aid in protecting as well as enhancing the efficacy of vitamin C.
- From Patti Kay
- I had been taking quercetin after developing hives from a 5 day Zipack treatment, and found that the quercetin helped with not only the hive problem, but with a 3 year problem I had with edema (fluid retention at my feet and ankles). So, goodbye to more Spironolactone (a prescription diuretic) that never worked well, and Thank God for the hives that led me to quercetin! I had forgotten what my normal, non-swollen feet and ankles looked like!