Quercetin for Asthma, Rhinitis, Sinusitis

You May Have Heard of Quercetin

If you have searched for alternatives to steroids and antibiotics to treat asthma, rhinitis, or sinusitis (or all three, as is common), you probably ran across Quercetin (pronounced “kwər’-sətin”). In the Integrative Medicine world and Alternative Medicine communities, quercetin is well-known as an anti-inflammatory agent. Here is what you need to know to decide whether to try taking quercetin to reduce your symptoms from asthma, allergic rhinitis, or sinusitis.

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that occurs naturally in many foods, plants, and blue-green algae. Foods that that naturally contain quercetin include onions and garlic, and and many dark-colored fruits and vegetables, including:

  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Broccoli
  • Green peppers
  • Italian squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black tea
  • Green tea
  • Red wine

If you struggle with symptoms of asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis, here is how Quercetin (Q) helps:

  • Q inhibits antigen-induced basophil histamine release
  • Q inhibits antigen-induced release of leukotrienes
  • Q inhibits mast-cell degranulation (reduced release of histamine and leukotrienes)
  • Q is a potent antioxidant

To summarize: Quercetin is a naturally-occurring antihistamine.

In fact, quercetin’s effect on upper airway inflammation is unmatched by other natural remedies.

But wait, there’s more …

According to the American Cancer Society, preliminary data suggests that Quercetin may also be a potent anticancer agent! (You know, just in case you were on the fence about quercetin based on the anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects.)

Note that quercetin is not well absorbed, and is best absorbed when taken between meals. It is also absorbed best when combined with bromelain (a pineapple-derived enzyme). Most commercial preparations contain both ingredients.

So, you should be asking, “Is Quercetin safe for children”?

Of course, there is little incentive for companies to go through the expense of clinical trials for a naturally-occurring substance that the FDA considers a “dietary supplement.” Even less incentive to go through the extra expense of testing in children.

That is the long way to say that there is limited information on the safety of qeurcetin in children.

On the other hand, quercetin has been given to children for many years now, and is available in over-the-counter forms that children love: chewable tablets. The FDA classifies quercetin as a dietary supplement, and does not regulate it as a medicine.

Book: Alternative Treatments for Children, by Lawrence Rosen, MD

Alternative Treatments for Children, by Lawrence Rosen, MD

I’m Reassured

The thing that most reassures me regarding the use of quercetin as an antihistamine for children is that it is recommended by Lawrence Rosen, MD.

Dr. Rosen is a renowned pediatrician, and the founder of The Whole Child Center. He practices Integrative Pediatrics – combining the best evidence-based remedies to help his patients, regardless of their origin.

Dr. Rosen is also the author of Treatment Alternatives for Children, a comprehensive guide for parents. One of the key benefits of this excellent resource is that it offers side-by-side comparisons between “conventional” and “alternative” common remedies. I highly recommend that every parent buy this book and keep it nearby!

[for transparency: this is an affiliate link: endorsing products that I believe in].

Quercetin For Your Child (and for you)

As I mentioned, Quercetin is available over-the-counter in preparations for children. One of the most popular, and well-reviewed on Amazon, is Ortho Molecular Dehist Jr.

So check out Ortho Molecular D-Hist Jr for your little boogorheads, or Ortho Molecular Natural D-Hist for you!

[for transparency: these are affiliate links: endorsing products that I believe in].

Anyone reading this familiar with these? What has your experience been? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Please leave a message and let us all know. For me, the Ortho Molecular Natural D-Hist is my replacement for antihistamines when I have allergy symptoms (when don’t I?), or for when I get a ‘cold.’

 Other Alternatives

Also consider these non-medicinal options for your little asthmatic. Both of these have been found to significantly reduce asthma symptoms in good clinical trials:

  • Acupuncture (yes, really – children do surprisingly well with needles to treat asthma with acupuncture!)
  • Yoga (yes, really – that “hippy,” Eastern posture/exercise thang)

Summary

There you have it, my brief explanation of the anti-inflammatory, antihistamine benefits of Quercetin.

Do you take quercetin? Do you give it to your kids?

What is your experience with quercetin? Positive or negative, we’d like to hear!

NOTE: due to its anti-leukotriene action, quercetin is NOT appropriate for pregnant women.

 

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Hi, I’m Russell Faust, author of this medical education blog.

Russell Faust, PhD, MD boogordoctor

Dr. Faust and friend

Let me know what topics are important to you and your child’s respiratory health.

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Until next time, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor ;~D)

Comments

  1. I have heard of this in a nasal spray form as well….any research on which is better…chewable or nasal spray? Or is there equal benefit in both?

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      You’re right, Lisa.
      There are several brands of quercetin nasal spray (“Allergix,” “Sinufix” among others).
      I have not tried any of them, plan to.
      Let us all know if you give it a try.
      Thanks!
      Russ

  2. Denise Goodman says:

    Dr. Faust, my little 30 month old grandson wakes up every night with blood in his nostrils, his boogers are always very thick, can you recommend something? He is not congested this is just how he wakes up in the morning.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Denise,
      The #1 cause of nose-bleeds in toddlers this age is the FINGER. Even if they never put a finger in the nose when they are awake, it can happen while they are sleeping – unconciously. And this is a difficult age to prevent it. Try keeping the nasal lining moist during these dry winter months: use a STEAM vaporizer at night; use acquesous-based ointment like Aquaphor, topically to moisten the nasal lining. Acqueous ointments are much more comfortable than the grease-based vaseline-type ointments. Beyond that, take a look at the 3 or 4 articles here on this site pertaining to nose-bleeds.
      Without a thorough exam, I can’t be of much help. My advice is to see a pediatric ENT for personalized care.
      Thanks for visiting and sharing.
      Best success!
      RF

  3. Hi, I wasn’t sure where to write this. I am a 25 year old male and I suffer from asthma and sinus problem which I have had as long as I can remember.

    The question that I have I have been pondering for a few years now is, why does my asthma and sinus problems get very bad if I stop smoking? I have been on and off cigarettes for a few years and when I stop I find it hard to breathe whereas if I smoke I can breathe fine. I don’t want to smoke anymore I want to live a healthy life but struggling for breath every few hours can’t be healthy either.

    Have you had any experience with this sort of problem before? Thanks in advance and I really like your website. I’ll definitely be giving the saline spray a go. Thanks

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Paul,
      I have no idea, sorry.
      Even if quitting makes things worse in the short term, you will be MUCH healthier over the long term if you quit!
      Quit now! I don’t want to be removing your larynx (voice box) and part of your face in twenty years because you keep smoking!
      Take a look at this post for resources to quit: http://www.boogordoctor.com/2010/10/quit-smoking-do-it-for-your-kids/
      RF

      • I have a low grade autoimmune disorder and lifelong allergies and asthma. Currently I am having a bout of generalized pruritus (no rash or urticaria) and am on double dose (twice day) of Zyrtec and double dose Qnasl. The pruritus can last a long time. I am thinking of trying Quercetin. But I want to avoid Bromelain as I’ve had stomach problems with pineapple (sensitive stomach). Is there a brand of Quercetin alone that you might recommend? Are there any stomach gentle things that might help it to be absorbed (without bromeliad or papain)? Have you had experience with powdered form of Quercetin?

        • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

          Hi Bonnie,
          You may be able to find Quercetin by itself (online search), but it’s pretty ineffective without the Bromolain. The purified Bromolain (added to Quercetin) may not elicit the same stomach upset for you that whole pineapple does. It may be worth a trial of a tiny amount to confirm that, because it will help you reduce the oerall inflammation. Also, the website, SacreHerbals.com, is launching the end of next month, and has great information on effective natural anti-inflammatories. You will be able to sign up on that “launch page.”
          Please let me know what you end up doing, and how it works for you. Thanks!

  4. Hi There

    this is nice blog, but going forward i would like to update some backround information on my case, i have 30 years old and is very senstive to smoke , paint fumes and i got cough and sore throat easily and due to this my cough got worsened from last 1 year. can u pls advise what is the problem, now cough is so severe that, i could breathe pipe swelled and finding it is uneasy to breathe, could you please recommend what best i can do..

    adding to this, i have problem with dust also..

    thanks
    Surbhi

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Surbhi,
      I wish I could help! It is simply not possible to provide personalized medical advice over the internet. All of the information on this site is strictly as a source of general information – a reference resource – and not medical advice. I CAN advise you to seek local medical care that you trust. Having a relationship with your healthcare provider is a key to your success.
      Thank you for visiting, and best success,
      RF

  5. Hi Doc
    Love your site. I’m a long term sinusitis sufferer. I’ve been using a saline nasal rinse daily and quercetin nasal spray for a while and it helps in the short term. My question is what can I do to alleviate a new symptom – the terrible mucus smell in my nose. I’ve had this for about a month now and antibiotics didn’t help. Is this caused from a biofilm bacteria?

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Steega,
      Thank you for your comment, and for sharing.
      The “terrible smell” may be due to one of a couple things:
      (1) inflammation can alter the sensory epithelium that provides your sense of smell, located at the very top of the nasal airway. Reducing the inflammation can correct that – things like nasal saline rinses, including Xylitol to reduce bacterial growth, Manuka honey for its anti-bacterial AND anti-inflammatory effects. Oral quercetin is also an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Either combined with bromolain to aid absorption, or in the form of Iso-quercetin (available from Integrative Therapeutics. I have no relationship with IT).
      (2) byproducts of acute or chronic bacterial infection can smell pretty bad, especially the bacteria that cause chronic infections and biofilms. Read all the information you can on chronic sinusitis and also on eliminating biofilms. Some info here on this site.
      Please note: if you find that chronic biofilms are contributing to your sinusitis, and decide to add ‘baby shampoo’ to your nasal rinses to help eliminate the biofilms, be VERY cautious and add only a few drops to your nasal saline rinses (I learned the hard and ouchy way :))
      My best advice is to find an ENT doc that can help you find the cause, and won’t jump to surgery as the solution.
      Thanks again for reading and sharing!
      RF

  6. Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

    Hey Y’all,
    I just suffered through a viral URI – a “cold” – but didn’t really suffer much. How? I was taking Ortho Molecular Natural D-Hist several times every day for a week. What a HUGE difference: much less sore throat, much less congestion, much less lingering snot. And no anti-histamine drowsiness. I continue to take one per day for the anti-inflammatory benefits. I’m convinced, based on my “n-of-one,” I just ordered some more from Amazon.
    RF

  7. Hi Dr. Faust,
    I’m an allergic rhinitis sufferer for years. I’m allergic to dustmites. I’ve been taking Quercetin for abt half a year. I find that it helps to reduce the severity of my allergy attack, but not the frequency. I take 500mg, 2x daily, after meals. I read that for best effect, its to be taken BEFORE meals, but I find that my gastric don’t react very well to that. Also, the one am taking is purely Quercetin, without Bromelain. Do u think these factors affected the effectiveness of Quercetin? Is there such a thing as overdosage of Quercetin and its side effect?

    I read from your post that due to its anti-leukotriene action, quercetin is not appropriate for pregnant women. Can you explain abit more abt what is anti-leukotriene action? Is Quercetin suitable for women planning to conceive? What abt lactating moms?

    I really like your website, written by a Doctor, it is easy to read and not full of boring medical jargons, lol! I have recently started my own blog on allergic rhinits and sinusitis – writing from the view of a sufferer and patient. Your comments and interaction on my blog is welcomed and I look forward to more posts from you. Keep up the good work, doctor!

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Shan,
      Thanks for your detailed note, and your kind comments.
      Great questions! The answer is not so great: there is little guidance regarding Quercetin during pregnancy, or for lactating women or women planning to conceive.
      A search on these issues provides mostly warnings based on speculation, not on real clinical data. But in the case of pregnancy, caution is always the best approach. One of my favorite sites for information on supplements like Quercetin is the University of Maryland’s Integrative Medicine site. It is one of the oldest Integrative Medicine programs in the country, recently celebrating their 21st Anniversary.
      Thanks again for visiting and your support. I look forward to watching your site develop. Please keep me updated.

  8. Jonathan Kavner says:

    Doctor,

    I have a related question about the antihistamine properties of quercetin.

    My 2 year old suffers from atopic dermatitis, and asthma is coming next; I can already hear a wheeze when she’s playing hard.

    Think quercetin might be something to try now with her? We’re not fans of the whole topical/oral steroids, Zyrtec/Benadryl, antibiotic cycle and are looking everywhere for a way to improve her condition.

    Much thanks.

    Jonathan

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Jonathan,
      Good observation. In my experience – and that of many mothers of children in my practice, mothers who focus on natural remedies – the combination of Quercetin/Bromolain is ideal as a replacement for antihistamines. For my own allergies and asthma, and that of our children, I have found that adding other anti-inflammatory supplements can be beneficial: things like Curcumin and Ginger. Anything that helps reduce the inflammatory reaction of the airway can be helpful. Stay tuned for articles on beneficial supplements on a new site, SacredHerbals.com, coming soon. Sign up there to be notified when it goes live!
      And thanks for stopping by. Please return to let us know how it goes.

  9. Ron Alonzo says:

    By far Quercetin is one of the best supplements I have taken in my 30 years of supplementing. I used to suffer from seasonal allergies in the most chronic way, but since taking quercetin its but a memory. I’m 53 yrs old and out of all the supps I take its one of my favorites.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Agreed, Ron. Consider adding Curcumin to that for a huge anti-inflammatory effect.
      Thanks for visiting, and for taking time to share.

  10. Great info on Quercetin! Ortho Molecular Products, Springboard, D-Hist Jr. also contains Stinging Nettles Leaf. Have you found any research on the safety of this for children?

  11. Question, my son who is now 11 has been on Zyrtec or the generic for about 6 years now due to seasonal allergies and some skin allergies. Recently we have been trying to have a more natural healtheir lifestyle and I was thinking of trying to get him off the zyrtec and onto something more natural. I hear that quercetin and vitamin c together seems to work BUT I did some research and it would seem that there is an unpublished but very real side effect when trying to stop the zrtec that is horrible itching over the whole body. Now I have seen this happen with my son when we have run out for a day or so, but was wondering if I stopped the zyrtec and immediately began the quercetin and vitamin C if this could possibly help with the side effects of coming off the zyrtec. Thank you.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for sharing that experience. Even though I have treated more than 30,000 children in my clinical practice, I have not witnessed that sort of “rebound” when stopping Zyrtec. However, stopping some antihistamines after years of use can result in release of histamine with itching.
      For a general approach: increase consumption of natural anti-inflammatory foods and supplements. The combination of Quercetin / Bromolain is one example. The other thing to attempt – though this can be a real challenge in children, especially – is a histamine-restricted diet. For more on that, I recommend that you visit Dr. Jaice Joneja’s website, at http://www.allergynutrition.com
      Also, she has a pdf file for download on histamine-restricted diet: http://www.mastocytosis.ca/MSC%20HT%20Restricted%20Diet%20Nov2012.pdf
      Dr. Joneja struggled with a severely ill child, and she is really the world’s expert in this area.
      Thanks for sharing, and please give me follow up to let me know how this turns out!

  12. One other question. I have antibasophil antibodies but my allergist doesn’t know the significance of this. He ordered the titer the last time I had prolonged (months) of pruritus, but doesn’t know if these antibodies are the cause. I can’t find good information on the significance of antibasophil antibodies (and yes, I do know what basophils are and their nasty inflammatory/histamine contents)! Thank you for any thing you might know about this.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Bonnie,
      That would make sense as an explanation for your general heightened inflammatory state … reactive airway, allergies, asthma, and pruritis. Any antibodies against basophil surface antigens is probably causing a histamine release. Please take a look at Janice Joneja’s website, and also take a look at my interview with Dr. Joneja.

  13. Allergy girl says:

    Hi Dr Faust

    You mention taking curcumin along with Quercetin, do you have any further details about that on your blog here you can point me to? Does one help absorb the other? I am suffering badly with allergies at the moment with cough from nasal drip and bad congestion/rhinitis from dust mite allergy which seems to be made worse by pollen, have begun taking Quercetin Complex from Solgar to see if it will help with histamine reduction as I can not take an anti histamine without feeling like someone drugged me unbeknownst to me (why do all doctors tell you this does not happen with second and third generation anti histamines, it very much does, to me anyway, and a lot of others I see posting their experiences on line) I am so miserable with this, will curcumin further the help to reduce this? Many thanks for any assistance you can provide.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi AG,
      Curcumin is the active ingredient in tumeric; it is a naturally-occurring, general anti-inflammatory. It is a great alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), although not as strong. On the other hand, without the significant adverse side-effects of NSAIDs. Curcumin makes a great synergist to Quercetin/Bromolain. Note that Quercetin by itself is much less effective – it requires the addition of bromolain for optimal absorption from the GI tract. Q/B combination is a good anti-histamine, but also has some general anti-inflammatory effects, probably related to the antioxidant action. Some folks use Q/B for arthritic relief. For my own allergic rhinitis, I use the following combined regimen: curcumin; Q/B; daily nasal saline rinses; and a histamine-intolerance diet, when I can stand it (every food that I LOVE has a high histamine level :(
      For additional resources you might try the Livestrong website (from Lance Armstrong; despite his scandal, he has done some great things for natural health). Also take a look at the Nasopure.com site! Awesome resource. And finally, Janice Joneja’s website for a low-histamine diet and other resources for understanding how food and allergies intersect: http://www.allergynutrition.com/
      It can be challenging to find things on her site, but it’s worth the effort!
      Thanks so much for visiting and for taking time to connect! Best success, and please keep me updated.

  14. Hi, My 8 years old son has been suffering from environmental and food allergies and is prone to diarrhea.. I want to try D-Hist Jr on him. How many chewable tablets do you think he needs if he is currently 29kg? and how many days usually before one sees a reduction of the allergic symptoms upon taking? Thank you so much!

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Audrey,

      I’m sorry, but answering your question would be “practicing medicine online,” not healthy for my medical license.
      Please ask your pediatrician, or search online.

      Beyond that issue: there are many kids who simply don’t respond to these anti-histamine agents, whether drugs or natural; one of my own kids, for example. And even more frustrating are those children who CLEARLY have allergic rhinitis as evidenced by their textbook symptoms, but whose allergy tests return “negative.” In fact, it seems that the majority of my really sick kids in our sinus clinic fall into that category. What are we to make of those?

      I’m beginning to think there are a couple likely explanations. The first is that we don’t fully understand the cell and molecular mechanisms that underlie allergic rhinitis (duh). Meaning that our “allergy tests” aren’t looking at the right markers, at least for children with allergies. The second explanation is that these kids have something else going on that manifests with allergy symptoms (another duh!). A good candidate would be histamine-intolerance, or hyper-reactivity. Meaning that even low, “normal” levels of histamine elicit a full-blown allergic reaction.

      There is growing evidence for both of these explanations.

      If you want to learn more about histamine intolerance, I recommend the website of Dr. Janice Joneja – do a search on THIS website (boogordoctor.com) for my interview of Dr. J; but also take a look at her website, a very valuable resource for anyone struggling with respiratory ailments (allergic rhinitis; asthma; sinusitis; food intolerance or allergies):
      http://www.allergynutrition.com/

      Thank you so much for you question; and thank you for understanding that I can’t provide more explicit guidance here.
      Please keep me updated!

  15. Mrs.Nadeem says:

    Hi dear I read your article first time n lovin it.I am from Pakistan n living here too.my 11yrs old son has allergic rhinitis.some times when this worsens it becomes asthma like symptoms.plz tell me what I should do?He has all this from the age of 3.now when the weather changes he gets symptoms of asthma.then I give him montelukast5mg.Ventolin inhaler.but he has a lot of missed days from school.plz help me.thank you.

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Mrs. Nadeem,

      I wish I could help more, but without seeing your son in clinic it’s impossible for me to provide any specific advice.
      I CAN suggest that you read the articles on this website about upper airway inflammatory ailments; on asthma; on allergic rhinitis and sinusitis.
      And that you consider the various alternative remedies described in those articles.

      Thank you for visiting and for sharing.
      Best success.

  16. Thanks for all the great info! I’ve been using dHist on my 3 year old for about 8 months. She won’t take the chewable so break open the adult caps and mix into her pouch (hehe). I know this should be taken on empty stomach. Do you think I’m just wasting energy? Do you have a turmeric brand you like for kiddos?
    Also, she doesn’t get runny nose or itching. But last 2 months she’s gotten a terrible cough, overnight fever. Lasts about a week then she’s fine again. Everyone around us is battling seasonal allergies and I wonder if this is her presentation or just toddler viruses. Her ige panels to food and inhalants are negative, but I’ve learned from you those can be wrong. We’ve also done the alcat test, igG panels, stool tests to figure out her eczema. Leaky gut has been confirmed and diet changes have made a huge impact on her skin.
    How long do you think the Q takes to see a difference? Thanks so much!

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Agnes:

      We went through the same thing with our youngest (boy). Went through the painful process of “elimination diet,” discovering an absolute dairy sensitivity. He was completely “negative” on his allergy testing, though. As long as he avoids dairy, no eczema.

      No, I don’t have a tumeric brand for kids – we use a very purified curcumin (purified from tumeric) capsule. I will add it to the boogordoctor Amazon page. But even before I get to that, you may be able to search for curcumin in the “product search” box in the upper right of this website. Please let me know if that doesn’t work.

      I will admit that dHist and Quercetin/Bromolain can be a very subtle effect, depending on the person and the molecular mechanism of their inflammation. I obtain relief; our little guy does not. Every body’s different.

      Thanks for visiting and for sharing.
      And best success!

  17. I am grateful to come across your blog. I use D Hist for my children. I want to ask the curcumin dose for 4 year and 8 year old? Thank you!

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Thank you, Helen.
      I honestly don’t know a “dose” for curcumin in children.
      My advice is to consult Dr. Rosen’s excellent book, Treatment Alternatives for Children. Here is our Amazon affiliate link for the book.
      Thanks again for your kind comments. Please keep me updated.

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