by D U A N E L A W, L. A c. | ( 3 1 0 ) 4 9 8 – 2 7 7 7 

by DUANE LAW, L.Ac. | (310) 498-2777 


love vitamin C. And that means I also love bioflavonoids. They’re closely related compounds. Together vitamin C and the bioflavonoids protect our bodies from oxidizing … they keep us from drying out and crisping.

But they do much more than that. Vitamin C is also the glue that holds us together. If it wasn’t for vitamin C we’d instantly dissolve into puddles of cells on the floor. And that means vitamin C is crucial whenever I use acupuncture to heal any physical injury.

We need vitamin C to help new connective tissue grow. But Vitamin C and the bioflavonoid antioxidants are also natural anti-inflammatories. These two actions support each other.

By soaking up metabolic “sand-in-the-gears” free radicals, antioxidants “clean up” our cells, their membranes, their microstructures and metabolic pathways. This makes it much easier for our cells to go about their work as they make the new proteins they need to heal and grow.

This anti-inflammatory nature also makes antioxidants useful when allergic inflammation strikes … whether it shows up as sinus congestion, a sluggish, cloudy-headed feeling, or a chronic pain flare-up.

Yes, that’s right. Chronic pain can be an allergic response. Not always … but often enough that it’s a good thing to rule out if you’ve had chronic pain for awhile.

Quercetin is one of the bioflavonoids that’s often found along with vitamin C in fruit; particularly in apple skins. Other natural sources include green tea, red onion, most citrus, tomato, broccoli, kale and other green leafy veges.

My fave use for quercetin is to blunt allergic sinus reactions,1,2,3 like the ones that flare up after wet winters when warm spring days first hit and pollen counts go mad. Quercetin blocks the action of cytokines, signalling molecules that tell the immune system it’s time to attack.

500-1,000 mg once or twice/day will usually do the job. If you’re on meds be sure to check with your pharmacist first of course. Quercetin slows the rate at which the body breaks down some drugs, making them more than normally potent.

Apple skins are one of the best food sources of quercetin.

Just be sure to get organic apples. Commercially-grown apples are the most heavily pesticide-laden crop sold.

But that’s not all quercetin does.

  • Quercetin appears to help keep chronic viral infections like herpes under control.4,5
  • It calms inflammation in the cardiovascular system6 so it lowers blood pressure7 and is good for heart health.8 It appears to do this in part by helping activate detoxification enzymes.9
  • It helps calm the inflammatory pain of rheumatoid arthritis.10
  • It improves insulin sensitivity in women with polcystic ovary syndrome. (PCOS)11
  • It also appears to lower cancer risk and the tendency of cancer to spread.12,13,14

Now quercetin is just a patch job for allergies, even if it’s a good one. But if your pain or other symptoms improve with quercetin, there’s an excellent chance they’re allergy-related. A more comprehensive approach would involve working to identify any substances in one’s diet or environment to which one reacts and reducing one’s exposure to them.

If one’s still getting ready to come to grips with all the ways modern diets feed allergies, there’s something to be said for a good patch job that works. Because once summer arrives and the hills dry out, many allergy sufferers will be able to breathe freely and move without pain again … at least until next spring.

 1. Kashiwabara M, Asano K, et al. Suppression of neuropeptide production by quercetin in allergic rhinitis model rats. 2016. BMC Complement Altern Med. May 20;16:132.

 2. Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Skrovankova S, Sochor J. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. 2016. Molecules. 12;21(5).

 3. Ariano R. Efficacy of a novel food supplement in the relief of the signs and symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis and in the reduction of the consumption of anti-allergic drugs. 2015. Acta Biomed. 86(1):53-8. \

 4. Suarez B, et al. Phenolic profiles, antioxidant activity and in vitro antiviral properties of apple pomace. 2010. Food Chemistry, 120(1):339-342.

 5. Alvarez AL, Melón S, Dalton KP, et al. Apple pomace, a by-product from the asturian cider industry, inhibits herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 in vitro replication: study of its mechanisms of action. 2012. J Med Food. 15(6):581-7.

 6. Dower JI, Geleijnse JM, Gijsbers L, et al. Supplementation of the Pure Flavonoids Epicatechin and Quercetin Affects Some Biomarkers of Endothelial Dysfunction and Inflammation in (Pre)Hypertensive Adults: A Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. 2015. J Nutr. 145(7):1459-63.

 7. Edwards RL, Lyon T, Litwin SE, et al. Quercetin reduces blood pressure in hypertensive subjects. 2007. J Nutr. 137(11):2405-11.

 8. Brüll V1, Burak C, Stoffel-Wagner B, et al. Effects of a quercetin-rich onion skin extract on 24 h ambulatory blood pressure and endothelial function in overweight-to-obese patients with (pre-)hypertension: a randomised double-blinded placebo-controlled cross-over trial. 2015. Br J Nutr. 114(8):1263-77.

 9. Perez A, Gonzalez-Manzano S, Jimenez R, et al. The flavonoid quercetin induces acute vasodilator effects in healthy volunteers: correlation with beta-glucuronidase activity. 2014. Pharmacol Res. 89:11-8.

10. Pan F, Zhu L, Lv H, Pei C. Quercetin promotes the apoptosis of fibroblast-like synoviocytes in rheumatoid arthritis by upregulating lncRNA MALAT1. 2016. Int J Mol Med. 38(5):1507-1514.

11. Rezvan N, Moini A, Janani L, et al. Effects of Quercetin on Adiponectin-Mediated Insulin Sensitivity in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Clinical Trial. 2017. Horm Metab Res. 49(2):115-121.

12. Nguyen LT, Lee YH, Sharma AR, et al. Quercetin induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in triple-negative breast cancer cells through modulation of Foxo3a activity. 2017. Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 21(2):205-213.

13. Lin TH, Hsu WH, Tsai PH, et al. Dietary flavonoids, luteolin and quercetin, inhibit invasion of cervical cancer by reduction of UBE2S through epithelial-mesenchymal transition signaling. 2017. Food Funct. 8(4):1558-1568.

14. Tsai PH, Cheng CH, Lin CY, et al. Dietary Flavonoids Luteolin and Quercetin Suppressed Cancer Stem Cell Properties and Metastatic Potential of Isolated Prostate Cancer Cells. 2016. Anticancer Res. 36(12):6367-6380.

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