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:
- Green peppers
- Italian squash
- 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.
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.
[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.’
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)
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.
Hi, I’m Russell Faust, author of this medical education blog.
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