The Quercetin Effect


Words: Dr Richard FIRSHEIN

Allergies can be as wide-ranging as the world itself. Perhaps, the most common form is allergic rhinitis, the technical name for sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery eyes, and itchiness that many of us experience every year. The seasonal pollination of trees, grass, and weeds distributing airborne allergens varies little from year to year, causing the predictable return of symptoms at the same time and place annually.

However, most allergies aren’t seasonal at all, and you don’t have to be in the great outdoors to fall victim. Sensitivities to cockroach, mould, dust, pets, household chemicals, and wood mean that you could stay indoors your whole life and still develop the itchy, scratchy symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

The Conventional Downside

True, there are a glut of pills and capsules lining drugstore shelves that claim to relieve your allergies. Many of these conventional medications, however, have irksome and often dangerous side-effects. Benadryl, for example, can lead to severe drowsiness. Nasal decongestants and cough suppressants can also, likewise, cause emotional and physical impairment. Hence, the warnings on the box against ‘engaging in use of heavy machinery,’ or driving, while under the ‘influence’ of these drugs. The familiar anti-histamine, Seldane, was pulled off the market after causing 127 heart-related ‘incidents.’

Would you rather relieve your allergies with a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory agent guaranteed to help you breathe in the fresh spring-time air without sneezing — or, fall into a drugged stupor? Look no further than the strange-sounding nutraceutical called quercetin, a seemingly innocuous plant pigment that can clear up your sinuses without clouding your head. You’d call quercetin, the ‘queen’ of anti-allergy remedies.

Quercetin — found in red grapes, onions, apples, raspberries, cherries, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, among others and, of course, supplements — belongs to a class of nutrients known as bioflavonoids, compounds better known for the blue and red colour they give to plants than for the antioxidant benefits they provide the body. Over 4,000 flavonoids have been identified, and they are increasingly being recognised as a crucial key to health and longevity. The list includes garlic, bilberry, ginkgo, silymarin and catechins, found in green tea, which are not only heart smart, but are also suggested to prevent cancer.

A Super Bioflavonoid

Of the many bioflavonoids known to us, quercetin appears to be the one with the highest degree of anti-allergy activity. Quercetin stops allergies in their tracks via two routes. First, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory, keeping the lungs, nasal passages, and eyes from swelling as they normally do when allergens, like pollen, come into contact with the body. For this reason, quercetin may also be useful in treating inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and asthma too. Second, quercetin is a potent anti-histamine that prevents the release of itchy chemicals that make our nose run and our eyes water. Best of all, this natural ‘one-two’ punch of allergy defence is achieved without the drowsiness, or jitters, that conventional medication can cause; it is extremely rare for quercetin to cause side-effects.

Not only does quercetin provide allergy relief, but it also protects the stomach from ulcer disorders and gastric distress. Quercetin has also been shown to inhibit cell cancer lines and oral tumours and boost the benefits of chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer. A study suggests that quercetin might halt the cell proliferation in bone marrow, which could be helpful in treating leukaemia.

Most people, however, are drawn to quercetin’s amazing ability to alleviate allergies, which is its forte, especially when combined with other natural anti-histamines and anti-inflammatories, like vitamin C, vitamin B-12 [cobalamin], bromelain [an enzyme found in pineapple], and nettle [a plant].


I recommend using quercetin whenever you would reach for an anti-histamine, or when you are about to enter a season that is particularly difficult for you, such as hay fever, or pollen season. The initial dose is 300mg, twice a day, although I may recommend doses as high as 1-2gm in some severely allergic patients. Short-term use of 1-2 months is recommended. I do not suggest long-term use, unless there is a chronic allergy, such as the one related to dust mites.

Dr RICHARD FIRSHEIN, DO, is the Founder-Director of The Firshein Center for Comprehensive Medicine in New York City. He is a leading innovator and authority in the field of preventative and nutritional medicine, integrating Western and Eastern medical practices. He is Board Certified in Family Medicine and has served as professor of family medicine. An internationally recognised leader in the field of integrative medicine and healthy aging, a cancer researcher, prolific author and writer, Dr Firshein has written several ground-breaking books, including the bestselling Reversing AsthmaYour Asthma-Free ChildThe Nutraceutical Revolution and The Vitamin Prescription [For Life]. This article is ©Dr Richard Firshein.

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