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Quercetin

Quercetin is a flavonoid—a substance found in fruits, flowers, and vegetables—that, among other functions, gives them their color. Flavonoids have antioxidant properties, which help protect against disease, as well as anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects.

Uses

Quercetin offers a variety of potential therapeutic uses, primarily in the prevention and treatment of the following conditions.

bulletAllergies, asthma, and hives: Quercetin may inhibit histamine release from basophils (a type of white blood cell) and mast cells (large cells in connective tissue).
bulletCancer: Quercetin may be beneficial in the treatment of skin cancer, and may have anti-tumor effects in other cancers, such as ovarian cancer.
bulletCanker sores: Quercetin may reduce the frequency of mouth sores and produce mild symptomatic relief.
bulletDiabetes mellitus: Quercetin may help prevent cataracts, retinal disorders, nerve diseases, and other complications of diabetes. Flavonoids, including quercetin, also promote insulin secretion, increase vitamin C levels, protect blood vessels, prevent easy bruising, and support the immune system—all of which are beneficial to individuals with diabetes.
bulletHeart disease: Individuals with very low intakes of flavonoids are at higher risk for heart disease.
bulletInfection: Quercetin may control the spread of certain viruses within the body.
bulletRheumatoid arthritis: Quercetin may help reduce tissue destruction.

Quercetin may also be beneficial in the treatment of dysentery (an intestinal infection causing severe diarrhea), gout (a disease where crystals of uric acid, a component of urine, are deposited in the joints and cause swelling), and psoriasis (a chronic skin disease).

Dietary Sources

Fruits and vegetables—particularly citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, tea, and red wine—are the primary dietary sources of quercetin.

Other Forms

Quercetin is available as a supplement in several strengths in powder or capsule form. It is often packaged with bromelain as an anti-inflammatory agent. Flavonoid-rich extracts include those from grape seed, bilberry, Ginkgo biloba, and green tea.

How to Take It

Recommended dosages of quercetin vary depending on the health condition being treated. The following are guidelines for some of its common uses.

bulletGeneral supplementation: 100 to 250 mg three times per day.
bulletAllergy symptoms: 250 to 600 mg per day divided in several doses.
bulletGout: 200 to 400 mg of quercetin taken with bromelain between meals three times per day
bulletChronic hives: 200 to 400 mg of quercetin taken approximately 20 minutes before each meal

Precautions

There are no known reported problems with the use of quercetin.

Possible Interactions

No harmful drug interactions have been reported.

Supporting Research

Duthie SJ, Collins AR, Duthie GG, Dobson VL. Quercetin and myricetin protect against hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage (strand breaks and oxidised pyrimidines) in human lymphocytes. Mutat Res. 1997;393(3):223-231.

Ferry DR, Smith A, Malkhandi J, et al. Phase I clinical trial of the flavonoid quercetin pharmacokinetics and evidence for in vivo tyrosine kinase inhibition. Clin Cancer Res. 1996;2(4):659-668.

Frolov VM, Peresadin NA, Khomutianskaia NI, Pshenichnyi I. The efficacy of quercetin and tocopherol acetate in treating patients with Flexner's dysentery [in Ukrainian]. Lik Sprava. 1993;4:84-86.

Gross M, Pfeiffer M, Martini M, Campbell D, Slavin J, Potter J. The quantitation of metabolites of quercetin flavonols in human urine. Cancer EpidemiolBiomarkers Prevent. 1996;5(9):711-720.

Haas EM. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkley, Calif: Celestial Arts Publishing; 1992:272, 882-884.

Hollman PC, Van Trijp JM, Mengelers MJ, De Vries JH, Katan, MB. Bioavailability of the dietary antioxidant flavonol quercetin in man. Cancer Lett. 1997;114(1-2):139-140.

Knekt P, Jarvinen R, Reunanen A, Maatela J. Flavonoid intake and coronary mortality in Finland: a cohort study. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.). 1996;312(7029):478-481.

Murray MT. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, Calif: Prima Publishing; 1996: 320-321.

Murray MT, Pizzorno JE. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. 2nd ed. Rocklin, Calif: Prima Publishing; 1996:268, 314, 422, 494, 546-47, 766.

Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, Ross AC. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 9th ed. Baltimore, Md: Williams & Wilkins; 1999:1274-1277.

Werbach MR. Nutritional Influences on Illness. 2nd ed. Tarzana, Calif: Third Line Press; 1993:179, 259, 267, 389.

Young JF, Nielsen SE, Haraldsdottir J, et al. Effect of fruit juice intake on urinary quercetin excretion and biomarkers of antioxidative status. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 69(1):87-94.

Copyright © 2000 Integrative Medicine Communications

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein