Quercetin - A Novel Super-Antioxidant

September 29, 2014

Quercetin for Cancer, Bones and Allergies 

ReferencesTsuji J Bone and Min Metab 2013, Mei JCAM 2013Kaur JNCI 

 What’s Quercetin?  You probably haven’t heard of it.  It is a flavone antioxidant that is present in lots of vegetables.  Onions and apples are always cited.   There have been off and on news articles about quercetin helping reduce prostate cancer and breast cancer.  But Quercetin is in lots of other foods that you may not eat as often like capers, cilantro, kale, watercress, cranberries and plums.  In fact, many of the cancer-reducing effects of vegetables may be attributable to the beneficial effects of quercetin. 

 So, just how does that work?  There appear to be a variety of pathways in which quercetin inhibits cancer cells.  Slowing down the rapid cell cycle of cancer cells and inducing them to die when they are meant to (apoptosis) be one of quercetin’s strong points.  It also binds to the estrogen receptors found in breast cancer and also in other solid tumors.   One study showed that it binds just as tightly as tamoxifen.  Because of that effect, it slows the multiplication and spreading of breast cancer cells.   

When you combine quercetin and curcumin (sounds like a recipe for curry) there is evidence that you can slow the development of polyps in family’s that make multiple colonic polyps.  So, it slows the cell cycle in cancer and seems to increase the rate at which cancer cells initiate their auto-destruct cycle, something normal cells do on schedule.  That should make quercetin a must for all cancer patients. What does it do for bone health?   Just about every woman in America should be concerned about keeping her bones healthy, and just about every woman is slightly on the low side.   We have a whole class of drugs that inhibit the natural resorption of bone (alendronate and friends) that have not lived up to promises – too many horrible side effects.   

This is where quercetin shines.  It promotes the stimulation of new bone.   Taking drugs like prednisone (sometimes necessary for some illnesses) really thins out bone.   Compared to alendronate, quercetin is better at preventing that.   Just 150 mg a day and you can protect your bones! There are other effects of quercetin that make it a valuable supplement.   It has been shown to tune up mitochondria.   Does that mean better sports performance?  In one study of young swimmers, there was no measured effect.  But another study showed a clear beneficial effect based on measuring oxygen consumption.   And it’s mentioned in many sources for helping congestive heart failure.   It is also a great allergy medication and has been shown to reduce allergic rhinitis in folks with seasonal allergies. 

 What’s happened to the quercetin content of our foods?  As farmers develop foods to taste sweeter, look prettier, produce bigger yields; they have also reduced the quercetin content.   “Wilder” more original plants have higher levels of all anti-oxidants in them compared to the modern version.  For example, crab apples have more antioxidants and quercetin than modern grocery store apples. 

 WWW.   What will work for me?   I’m fascinated about the concept of our wilder foods having more cancer-reducing effects in them compared to our modern, sweeter, and prettier-looking versions.   Our modern diet has less quercetin in it because of the genetic engineering of our foods, and our penchant for sugar and packaged convenient foods.   Quercetin may be one of those “pivot – point” foods that provide a bunch of benefits that are loosely ascribed to eating more vegetables.  I’ve tried it now for sneezing and I think I sneezed less this weekend.   I took 500 mg two days in a row.  But ragweed is almost over.  But I’m going to be talking about quercetin to my cancer clients.  Beat me to the punch and get on 500 mg a day. (Want to read a great review article with lots of References: Check out Life Extension Magazine, Oct 2114) 

 Pop Quiz

  1. Quercetin is an antioxidant found in most meats and cheeses.  T or F.               Answer:  False.  In many fruits and vegetables (none in meat), but not all.  Apples and onions get mentioned a lot.  Cilantro and capers are superstars.
  1. Cancer cells don’t multiply as fast when exposed to quercetin.  T or F.         Answer:  Right!
  1. Cancer cells get prompted to die on time instead of hanging around when exposed to quercetin.  T or F.                     Answer:  Right again.
  1. Quercetin might be as good as many modern bone density drugs for those with osteopenia.  T or F                       Answer:  True, particularly if you have to take oral steroids.
  1. Quercetin may be a great allergy pill substitute.  T or F                     Answer:   Yes.