Lori Alton via NaturalHealth365 – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 19 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis in the past year alone. Also known as hay fever and seasonal allergies, allergic rhinitis causes a host of troublesome symptoms that can include congestion, sneezing, coughing, headache and itching, and watery eyes.
While Western medicine attempts to treat hay fever with antihistamines, these drugs can cause unwanted side effects – including drowsiness, dizziness, and rapid heart rate. A recent University of Michigan study on quercetin benefits shows that this flavonoid, which is found in fruits and vegetables, can safely support lung function. Other research has showcased its allergy-easing effects. Let’s look at some of the most compelling benefits of quercetin.
Benefits of Quercetin Include Potent Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects
The health-promoting benefits of flavonoids such as quercetin have long been known to scientists. Two decades ago, in groundbreaking research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers identified flavonoids as effective antioxidants that could protect against chronic illnesses. In animal, cell, and clinical studies, quercetin has been shown to decrease inflammation and scavenge harmful free radicals, thereby reducing disease-causing oxidative damage. In addition, one study showed that quercetin supplementation decreased markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in patients with a chronic lung disease known as pulmonary sarcoidosis.
In a 2020 clinical trial published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research, scientists evaluated the effects of supplementary quercetin on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a blanket term for a group of diseases that cause breathing problems. Participants with COPD were given supplementary quercetin for a week – with researchers concluding that the flavonoid was effective in reducing oxidative stress and lung inflammation. One of the primary goals of the study was to evaluate the safety of quercetin – and there was great news in that department. The team reported that the treatment was well-tolerated, with participants reporting no serious adverse events.
Of course, it’s not only individuals with COPD that can benefit from quercetin. This non-toxic natural compound is proving its merits as a natural intervention to ease allergy discomfort.
Quercetin Supports Healthy Lung Function, Studies Suggest
One of quercetin’s “superpowers” is its ability to help stabilize cells that release histamine in the body. In other words, quercetin can function as a natural antihistamine. According to family medicine physician Jaclyn Tolentino, D.O., quercetin may help to reduce allergy symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes, and swelling of the face and lips – minus the drying or sedating effects associated with pharmaceutical antihistamines.
In addition, quercetin-rich diets are associated with a lower incidence of asthma, which currently affects 8.4 percent of American adults. In a review involving over 10,000 participants published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the investigators found that the risk of asthma was reduced by an eye-opening 24 percent with a high-quercetin diet. (The scientists also found health-sustaining benefits for the flavonoids naringenin, hesperidin, and kaempferol. This trio of antioxidant compounds tends to be found alongside quercetin in fruits and vegetables, so eating these healthy foods is a win/win for your health.)
Incidentally, in a separate study, 12 weeks of quercetin supplementation reduced the risk of upper respiratory infections in healthy adults. (Not only does quercetin reduce the risk of developing certain diseases, but it appears to help healthy people stay that way!)
Quercetin Benefits Heart Health
Population studies show that people who eat diets high in flavonoids – such as quercetin, resveratrol, and catechin – have healthier levels of cholesterol. And preliminary studies have suggested that quercetin may reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in obese and overweight participants.
Quercetin has also been found to improve cardiovascular health by inhibiting platelet aggregation – the tendency of blood to form dangerous clots. So, it’s really not surprising that the AJCN study showing asthma reduction from quercetin also showed that high-quercetin diets decreased the risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Clearly, supporting heart health is among the many benefits of quercetin.
Boost Quercetin Intake with Organic Fruits and Vegetables
Good dietary sources of quercetin include black and green tea, berries, cherries, tomatoes, onions, leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, peppers, beans, and apples. (Pro tip: Red apples are a better source than green apples, so – when it comes to quercetin content – a Red Delicious decisively beats a Granny Smith. And, don’t even think of peeling that apple. Most of its quercetin is found in the skin).
When it comes to quercetin content, organic produce is the way to go. A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that organic tomatoes contained a stunning 79 percent more than those that were conventionally grown.
Quercetin is available in supplementary form, sometimes packaged with bromelain (an anti-inflammatory enzyme found in pineapples) and vitamin C to increase bioavailability. Natural healers typically recommend quercetin amounts of 500 mg to 1,000 mg a day – but check first with your integrative doctor before supplementing.
As a growing body of research shows, quercetin is emerging as a potent natural antioxidant that can support respiratory function and help to combat allergies. It’s just one more evidence-based reason to eat your (preferably organic) fruits and veggies!
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