What is quercetin?
Quercetin comes into favour during the hay fever season, but why? And what exactly is quercetin?
Quercetin is a plant pigment and flavonol found in fruits, vegetables, grains and leaves. It is also a naturally occurring antihistamine. As a potent antioxidant, it can help prevent excess free radical damage in the body. This, in turn, can help inflammation in the body, its natural response to stress, injury and even pollution.
Why is it good for hay fever?
Quercetin’s antioxidant properties offer anti-inflammatory benefits to help stop swelling in allergic reactions. For hay fever, this can relieve some of the more persistent symptoms.
It’s also worth having in our hay fever armoury for another reason. Many of the most common symptoms of hay fever are a result of our bodies overreacting to the perceived pollen threat. If our immune system thinks there is a threat, it will flood the area with white blood cells and histamines to fight the infection. In a healthy immune system, this response will be proportionate and cleared away quickly. When we suffer from hay fever, too much histamine is released and it lingers in our system, leading to symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing and runny noses.
Quercetin is useful as it helps dampen our immune system’s response. This means less histamine ends up in our cells, thereby preventing the symptoms. Interestingly, one study found that, in rats, quercetin also improved anaphylactic allergic reactions to peanuts, so it may be able to help us humans with other allergies, such as pollen, too.
Where can we find it?
Quercetin is a common antioxidant in our diets. It’s found most abundantly in apples with dark skins and red onions, but also in yellow peppers and capers too. Often it’s present in fruit and veg with rich coloured skins, such as purple grapes, but you can also find it in greens, including kale and broccoli. Green tea is also a good source of quercetin, although it is also high in histamine, so it’s is not such a good option for those with hay fever. Our bodies cannot make quercetin, so all of our supply must come from our diets.
We can also source this antioxidant from supplements, which can be a convenient way to treat hay fever. Even better, it won’t leave you feeling drowsy, as many over-the-counter antihistamines do.
We like the Quercetin supplements from Biocare, which also contain vitamin C for immune and antioxidant support. You can save 15% off your order at Biocare with the code LIZLOVES. We also love Youth & Earth’s Preservage supplement. With a special formulation of trans-resveratrol, curcumin, quercetin, and bioperine, this supplement comes with a raft of wellbeing benefits, including helping to slow the ageing process. Save 20% off your order with the code LIZLOVES.
It’s worth noting that we don’t want to suppress this response all year round. The long term use of antihistamines can actually increase histamine production. We also don’t want to be too low in histamine as it can cause low mood and anxiety. Quercetin taken all year round can also affect how we methylate, something we need ample B-complex vitamins for. So if you are supplementing with quercetin, be sure you’re getting enough B vitamins and folate too, and just stick to the months when you need it.