Want allergy relief, cancer protection and better heart health all rolled into one inexpensive remedy?
A nutrient found in certain fruits and vegetables has now been shown to both relieve the annoying symptoms of hay fever and other allergies AND defend the body from life-threatening conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
This nutrient all by itself is a good reason to eat more fruits and vegetables. If you are at all health-conscious, you should be devouring foods rich in this natural chemical in your daily meals. Keep reading for the full story. . .
The natural substance – quercetin – is what’s called a polyphenol. Polyphenols are a class of chemicals found in plants that, because of their unique molecular structure, are potent antioxidants. And polyphenols are the compounds that often endow plants and fruits with their flavors, scents and colors.
Safe, Harmless Way to Tackle Allergies
A growing group of studies shows that quercetin can slow down runny noses and fend off the sneezes caused by respiratory allergies like hay fever. A lab study in Japan, for instance, showed that five days of consuming quercetin can calm an itchy nose caused by allergic reactions.1
Another study in Asia was conducted with two dozen people who suffered pollen allergies. The researchers demonstrated that quercetin could keep their eyes from tearing and itching.2
But alleviating allergies is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health benefits of quercetin.
Research in India shows that quercetin can kill cancer cells involved in tumors – and come down hard on breast cancer and leukemia cells. The scientists say it does this by interfering with the DNA in the cells to such an extent it stops them from multiplying and spreading. In addition, quercetin goes after cancer cells’ mitochondria (the organelles that fuel the cell), makes them malfunction and starts the process of apoptosis – self-inflicted cellular destruction.3
And it does all this while leaving normal cells in the body unscathed.
Mitigating Chemotherapy’s Deadly Side Effects
Meanwhile, a study at Oregon State University found that because quercetin helps protect the cardiovascular system, it may be useful as an adjunct to chemotherapy, offsetting the heart-damaging effects of these harsh drugs.4
According to the Oregon researchers, quercetin has been shown to reduce the “cardiotoxicity” of an anti-cancer drug called Adriamycin which is used to treat breast and ovarian cancer as well as lymphomas. In most cases, cancer patients have to stop using Adriamycin pretty quickly or it will irreparably damage the heart.
Protection Against Alzheimer’s
Scientists at Cornell believe that, because quercetin is so effective in providing antioxidant protection against free radicals, it is a valuable nutrient for protecting brain cells and other parts of the nervous system from the kind of damage that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Lab tests of the substance at Cornell shows that it can fend off oxidative stress in neurons more effectively than other antioxidants like vitamin C.5
The structures in the eye are another part of the nervous system that may benefit from quercetin. Tests of the eyes of senior citizens show that quercetin, along with other nutrients, may help older eyes adapt more readily to seeing in the dark. It may also drop the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people.
The two conditions are related – studies show that the longer it takes your eyes to adjust to seeing in the dark, the greater your risk for developing macular degeneration.6
Quercetin Never Seems to Quit
Researchers have uncovered other remarkable benefits linked to quercetin:
- Fights off the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV): Most of us harbor EBV in our bodies, where it lies dormant. But these dormant infections can eventually lead to lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, stomach cancer and throat cancer. Quercetin can help the body defend against the EBV virus and the cancers it causes.7
- Calms down harmful inflammation: Runaway inflammation in the body can lead to heart problems, cancer and arthritis. Tests show that quercetin modulates the behavior of immune cells so they are less likely to go into harmful inflammatory overdrive.8 This may account for the relief the nutrient provides against hay fever allergies.
- Protects the sciatic nerve: Research demonstrates that quercetin can help repair damage to the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that often becomes inflamed during episodes of back pain.9
If you’re looking to up your intake of quercetin, some of the best sources include apples (it’s in the peel so don’t peel them before eating), onions, berries (cranberries and blueberries in particular), peppers, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, etc), leafy greens, grapes and plums. There is also some in wine.
One other big reason to eat quercetin-rich foods is to reduce your risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a growing problem in the United States and other developed countries. Risk factors that set you for this disease include getting older, being overweight, having high blood pressure, having high blood sugar and smoking. NAFLD, in which fat accumulates in the liver, can lead to cancer, cirrhosis and scarring of this organ.
A study in England shows that as NAFLD progresses, many mitochondria in liver cells become dysfunctional and this contributes to clogging the liver with fat. But quercetin can help eliminate the liver cells containing these failing mitochondria and restore the organ to better health.10
Right now, there are few treatment options for NAFLD. Preventive measures,including quercetin, are your best bet.