As the days get longer and warmer, seasonal allergies strike. If you're among those who suffer, consider a natural remedy such as quercetin. A beneficial compound found in red wine, tea, onions, apples, and other plant foods, quercetin works as an antihistamine without the side effects usually associated with synthetic hay fever relievers.
Quercetin calms immune cells, preventing or reducing their release of histamines-the substances that cause allergy symptoms. Numerous studies have investigated and validated these properties of the nutrient, which, in addition to relieving allergies, can also help treat asthma.
But beyond its antihistamine activity, quercetin also has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Here's a look at this nutrient's far-reaching health benefits.
At the University of South Carolina, researchers tested the effects of quercetin on the endurance levels of 12 college students who weren't exceptionally active. Compared to a placebo, 500 mg of quercetin taken twice daily for seven days increased endurance by 13.2 percent. Plus, quercetin increased oxygen utilization (VO2 max), a measure of cardiovascular fitness, by 3.9 percent.
"While there's no magic pill to take the place of regular exercise, quercetin may be important in relieving the fatigue that keeps people sedentary and providing some of the benefits of exercise," said lead researcher Mark Davis, PhD. "We believe that this could be a major breakthrough in nutrition." The study, which was partially funded by the Department of Defense, was published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
Other research has found that quercetin protects against heart disease by helping keep arteries dilated, thereby reducing blood pressure and decreasing plaque build-up. The nutrient has also relieved interstitial cystitis-bladder pain that's often accompanied by an urgent need to urinate-as well as symptoms of prostate inflammation (prostatitis).
Research at the University of California, Los Angeles, published in Cancer, found that quercetin reduces risk of lung cancer among smokers and has general anticancer properties. And, in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that quercetin can significantly reduce risk for colon cancer.
Seasonal allergy relief: Quercetin is often found in combination with bromelain, an enzyme from pineapple that helps to balance immune function. Follow product directions.
For Increased exercise endurance: Take 500 mg twice daily.
For Chronic prostatitis: Take 500 mg twice daily.
For Interstitial cystitis: Take 500 mg twice daily
Homeopathy: Seasonal First Aid
For seasonal allergies, Albert Levy, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and New York Medical College, recommends homeopathic remedies. "There are no side effects, no interactions with any medications, and they are safe for everyone, including children and the elderly," he says, "So why not try them before you go to see your doctor?"
First, says Levy, try Histaminum and Sabadilla, and add other remedies that match your symptoms if needed. If these don't bring relief, you may be suffering from something other than seasonal allergies.
Boiron Sabadil combines classic homeopathic remedies, including Sabadilla and Histaminum hydrochloricum, for relief of hay fever symptoms.
MegaFood Therapeutix Quercetin Strength delivers 500 mg of quercetin (from fava beans) per tablet. Whole fruit concentrates are also included.
Rainbow Light Allergy Rescue has therapeutic amounts of quercetin and other allergy aids, including eyebright, xanthium, and bromelain. It now comes in a newly designed square Eco-Guard bottle.