Quercetin… What on earth is it and what does it do?

Have you heard of Quercetin?  I hadn’t either, not until relatively recently that is, despite being a long-term advocate of supplementation and good nutrition as natural and preventative medicine…by Juanita Shield-Laignel MFHT

As a life-long asthma sufferer, I spent much of my childhood unwell, suffering chest infections, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, backwards and forwards to the GP all the time, needing a lot of medication; nebulisers, inhalers, anti-biotics, steroids and so-on and missed a lot of school.  It wasn’t until I hit my early twenties that I started to seek ways in which I could help myself and through research, reading, studying and good old trial and error, realised much of my asthma and chest problems stemmed from environmental/chemical allergies, food sensitivities and general inflammation and stress. 

Aged 23, I embarked upon a natural health journey that has taken me down many roads of learning, and discovering the things that work for me and the things that don’t.  Really early on I noticed that dairy products exacerbate my breathing difficulties and render me reaching for a Ventolin inhaler within minutes. 

Not long after that I realised bread and other wheat products have a detrimental effect too…so a simple piece of toast results in an almost immediate scratchy sore throat, congested sinuses, sneezing, sore eyes (not unlike hay fever), brain fog, bloated stomach and a few other unsavoury, un-lady-like side-affects that are best left undisclosed!! Continued consumption of bread / wheat products would lead to a coated tongue which eventually led me to learn all about candida and the importance of a healthy microbiome more commonly known as good gut bacteria.  

Certainly, for me, it became evident that what we put into our bodies has a massive effect on our health.  I can make myself very unwell with lots of symptoms, in a very short space of time by eating the wrong foods, conversely, I can make myself feel and even look, a whole lot better by eating the right foods, drinking plenty of clean water and by taking herbal and vitamin and mineral supplements that support my immune system – and the change starts to occur within in hours – if not minutes in some instances.

Naturally, therefore, I have adopted many strategies and regimes to combat these – what some people might consider, extreme sensitivities or what could be described as basically an over-reaction of the immune response, causing the body to release histamine in an attempt to combat what it sees as an unmanageable substance.  So anything I can do to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms has got to be a good thing.  

The most important thing for me to do, is to make every effort to eliminate the allergen, but this is not always possible…food sensitivity is just one thing I have to contend with, I am also affected by dust, perfumes, paints, make-up, animal fur, leaf mould…and the list goes on.  

So – what to do to help my immune system function more ‘normally’ – daily Vitamin C is one of my stalwarts, as are flaxseed Omegas 3, 6 and 9.  

Vitamin D helps too – so I regularly spend sensible time out in the sun and supplement all year round but especially in winter. There are many studies out there to confirm that many if not most of us in the northern hemisphere are depleted in Vitamin D and it has such a profound affect on many aspects of health including immunity.

Zinc is imperative for proper immune response and a small amount taken every day definitely makes a difference to my reactions.

Garlic is a wonderful help, eaten raw is best but not always sociable so I have a supplement version for days when I have to be out and about.

A good probiotic to ensure a strong microbiome also makes a real difference.  In fact – If I find myself in full food allergic swing – popping a pro-biotic can calm it almost immediately.  

Including certain food substances such as lemon and apple cider vinegar each day – also makes a big difference…as does sauerkraut.

Use of essential oils such as eucalyptus, black spruce, cedar wood and tea-tree have also helped over the years and in fact it was my discovery of essential oils that put me firmly on this path of self-health-improvement…

These are just a few of the things I have done for many years, but of course I am always on the look out for ways in which I can continue to help myself, alleviate, or even stop symptoms happening in the first place and it was in researching natural antihistamines, that I came across QUERCETIN.

So we know about bioflavonoids right? Compounds found in many foods including berries and lucky for many; red wine and dark chocolate…

So why are flavonoids good for us? Well, they have an antioxidant effect on the body and we know anti-oxidants are important as they scavenge free radicals (yes – sounds like a new age band) which are basically rogue molecules with uneven electrons so they can’t pair or latch onto where they would be useful and instead can cause damage. We get free radicals in the body either by natural breaking down processes or from too many environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke, x-rays, pollution, and other man-made chemicals. Antioxidants scavenge these rogue molecules and prevent or reduce the damage in our cells.

We know there are high amounts of antioxidants in some foods and in fact there is an O.R.A.C – standing for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity scale. 

At the top of the scale are everyday spices such as clove, cinnamon and turmeric and herbs such as oregano and peppermint and berries like acai, and cranberries and even in walnuts and hazelnuts. Cocoa is high on the list too.

Quercetin is a ‘polyphenol’ antioxidant, a particular type of antioxidant found readily in broccoli, cauliflower, onions, green tea and citrus fruits. It works by inhibiting histamine production in the body so helps to naturally control allergy symptoms, calms down hyperactivity of the cells in the airways and thus can help reduce congestion. Quercetin is thought to be so effective as an antihistamine that it is being researched in helping to control peanut allergies!

It definitely needs to be taken regularly though as it has a cumulative effect in the body so needs to build up over time, so if you were of a mind to take it for hay fever season you would need to start taking it a few weeks before spring begins.

I found Quercetin when researching natural anti-histamines about three years ago and added it to my daily regime and have gone on to another level of health.  One of my life-long symptoms is that I sneeze on awaking every morning…when taking Quercetin regularly, this becomes negligible.  But my sensitivities are an ongoing continuum and I doubt I will ever be cured – I am likely to always be sensitive to environmental, chemical and food allergens – and yet my general health and well-being has been so greatly improved over the years by incorporating all the above and more, into my daily life, that I am compelled to press forward into searching for more ways in which to improve.

And you can imagine how absolutely blown-away I was when Quercetin was listed in not just one, but in multiple protocols I came across while exploring ways to combat not just the most recent Coronavirus that circumnavigated the globe, but in all of them. Doctors, Scientists, Professors, Naturopaths and Nutritionists are all recommending many of the above but also Quercetin as a way of keeping our health and wellbeing in the best possible condition at the moment and always.

Patrick Holford, Nutritionist and Founder of ION and VitaminC4Covid.org and Bestselling author, had this to say…

“Quercitin is a potent anti-inflammatory, especially good for the lungs and joints, hence very helpful in long covid as well as arthritis. It’s also drives zinc into virally infected cells so, together with zinc, helps beat viral infections. Red onions, giving 20mg per onion, is the richest food source but supplements that deliver 500mg – 25 onion’s worth – really make a difference”.