12 Proven Benefits of Quercetin | Updated April 2021
Have you ever wondered what what top superfoods like red wine, green tea, kale, and blueberries all have in common? The answer is quercetin, a natural compound tied to longevity, heart health, endurance, immunity, and more.
What Is Quercetin?
- Organically grown apples, grapes and tomatoes
- Dark cherries and dark berries like blueberries, blackberries and bilberries (eaten in moderation)
- Cocoa, unsweetened
- Hot green chili peppers
In fact, quercetin is considered to be the most widely distributed and extensively studied flavonoid, according to a 2018 review.
This article contains information and links to list of quercetin related scientific references in various categories. This list is a work-in-progress list as new evidence might be added from time to time.
Here is the list of proven benefits of quercetin (by category):
1. Quercetin and AllergiesQuercetin has powerful anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties that can help relieve the symptoms of nasal allergies. In a clinical study involving people suffering from nasal allergies, those who used a nasal spray containing quercetin experienced significantly reduced symptom that were comparable to oral antihistamine drugs. (Reference)
Experts suggest that quercetin can be taken at levels of 400-500 mg three times a day.
2. Quercetin and Heart Health
3. Quercetin and COVID-19
“Ascorbic acid is a crucial vitamin necessary for the correct functioning of the immune system. It plays a role in stress response and has shown promising results when administered to the critically ill. Quercetin is a well-known flavonoid whose antiviral properties have been investigated in numerous studies.
There is evidence that vitamin C and quercetin co-administration exerts a synergistic antiviral action due to overlapping antiviral and immunomodulatory properties and the capacity of ascorbate to recycle quercetin, increasing its efficacy.
Safe, cheap interventions which have a sound biological rationale should be prioritized for experimental use in the current context of a global health pandemic.”
4. Quercetin and Atherosclerosis
Another clinical study demonstrated that quercetin’s antioxidant properties may also reduce the cardiovascular risks of atherosclerosis that patients in end-stage kidney failure typically suffer from. Thirty-eight patients undergoing regular hemodialysis for renal failure were divided into two groups: 26 given 100 ml of concentrated red grape juice (RGJ) a day over two weeks, and the remaining 12 as a control group not taking the RGJ supplement. A group of 15 healthy volunteers were also included in the study. (Reference)
Quercetin is the main polyphenol constituent of RGJ (red grape juice), and results of the study were substantial increases in HDL (the “good” cholesterol) as well as clinically significant decreases in LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), both of which lower the risks of atherosclerosis. Interestingly, even though not show in most previous studies, this study demonstrated the same effects on cholesterol levels in the healthy test subjects as in the unhealthy patients. One explanation may be the substantially higher amount of RGJ supplement given in this study (644 mg/day vs. 432 mg/day). (Reference)
5. Quercetin and PainTaking quercetin supplements may help lower pain associated with arthritis, as well as infections, including those of the prostate and respiratory tract. That’s because studies suggest quercetin reduces inflammatory pain. For example, there’s some evidence from several small studies that people experiencing bladder pains from infections (causing an urgent need to urinate, swelling, and burning) have fewer symptoms when taking quercetin supplements.
Flavonoids are also linked to reduced symptoms of prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and rheumatoid arthritis(RA). There’s evidence that when patients with RA switch from eating a “typical Western diet” to one higher in antioxidant-rich foods (like uncooked berries, fruits, vegetables, nuts, roots, seeds, and sprouts), they experience less pain and fewer recurring symptoms.
6. Quercetin May Improve Energy and EnduranceQuercetin is added to some athletic supplements because it’s believed to help increase athletic performance and endurance, likely because of its positive effects on blood flow. Researchers from the School of Applied Physiology at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that, on average, “quercetin provides a statistically significant benefit in human endurance exercise capacity (VO2 max) and endurance exercise performance.”
Other studies show that quercetin helps increase immune function and prevents susceptibility to illnesses that can occur when someone trains intensely and experiences exhaustion. One study found evidence that taking a dosage of 500 mg of quercetin twice daily helped protect cyclers from exercise-induced respiratory infections.
Because it can boost energy, quercetin could affect sleep patterns. One study found evidence that it may alter the sleep-wake cycle partly through activation of GABA receptors. However, insomnia is generally not believed to be a common side effect of taking quercetin.
7. Quercetin and CancerA Boston University School of Medicine study published in the Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents shows a link between a nutrient-dense diet rich in quercetin and a lowered risk of cancer. Quercetin seems to have potential chemo-preventive activity and might have a unique antiproliferative effect on cancer cells, making it an effective addition to any natural treatment approach. Research shows that this may result from the modulation of either EGFR or estrogen-receptor pathways. Recent studies have also found that quercetin can help stop the processes involved in cell proliferation and mutation, the growth of tumors, and symptoms related to typical cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy.
Animal studies suggest that quercetin effectively suppresses breast tumor growth, and further studies demonstrated that quercetin enhanced the therapeutic effects of Adriamycin® while suppressing its toxic effects on normal cells.
An animal study with rats conducted in 2009 demonstrated that quercetin’s antioxidant effects may act to prevent hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
8. Quercetin and Herpes Infections
In the lab, studies have demonstrated quercetin’s antiviral effect against both herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2). Quercetin extracted from apples inhibited both HSV-1 and HSV-2 replication by greater than 50%.
9. Quercetin and Skin HealthCapable of blocking “mast cells,” which are immune cells critical in triggering allergic reactions, inflammatory disease, and autoimmune disease, quercetin can help protect skin from the effects of disorders like dermatitis and photosensitivity. Flavonoids like quercetin block the release of many proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-8 and TNF, which helps stop symptoms related to skin inflammation, even in people who don’t find relief from other conventional treatments or prescriptions.
Studies have found that quercetin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that help fight allergic and inflammatory diseases as well as some prescriptions when taken in oral supplement form. For example, some people take quercetin for eczema since it can inhibit the secretion of histamine and pro-inflammatory markers.
10. Quercetin and Liver HealthRecent research has shown that quercetin has protective effects when administered to rats with ethanol-induced acute liver injury. Researchers concluded that “quercetin, by multiple mechanisms interplay, demonstrates hepatoprotective effect on liver-injury induced by alcohol by increasing ethanol metabolizing enzyme activities, increasing antioxidant system activities against oxidative stress, and lowering the expressions of proinflammatory cytokines.”
A 2017 study found evidence indicating that quercetin attenuates liver inflammation and fibrosis in mice through inhibiting macrophages infiltration. Researchers believe it “holds promise as a potential therapeutic agent for human fibrotic liver disease,” a condition triggered by liver injury and inflammation.
11. Quercetin May Protect the BrainThere’s mounting evidence that quercetin offers neuroprotective benefits due to its ability to defend the brain against oxidation and inflammation, leading to potentially less risk for cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
A 2018 study concluded that “findings suggest a possible new protective role for dietary flavonoids on Alzheimer’s disease (AD).” The study found that quercetin helps ameliorate cognitive dysfunction and may help reduce destruction of neurons.
12. Quercetin and Canker Sores (Aphtous Ulcers)Canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers, are small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in your mouth or at the base of your gums. Unlike cold sores, canker sores don't occur on the surface of your lips and they aren't contagious. They can be painful, however, and can make eating and talking difficult.
A clinical trial was conducted to assess quercetin’s effects on canker sores, and the results were promising.