Important Information for Allergy Sufferers
Richard Conant, L.Ac. C.N.
Imagine you are one among millions who greet each spring with worry about the flood of pollen that fills the air this time of year. When the pollen season arrives, as it inevitably does, you find yourself with two choices. You can either take over-the-counter antihistamines and put up with unpleasant side-effects, or endure the sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and other discomforts of hay fever.
If there was a natural ingredient, a nutritional substance found throughout nature in many foods and plants, that could offer an alternative, would you not be interested?
Quercetin, one among hundreds of flavonoids found throughout the plant kingdom, is this ingredient. Quercetin has been researched in numerous pharmacological studies. The results of this work strongly suggest that quercetin helps to stabilize the fundamental process in the body which causes an allergic reaction. Quercetin, as shown in test-tube ("in vitro") studies, prevents the release of histamine from "mast cells," immune cells that stand guard in the tissues which meet the outside environment—the nasal passages, the lungs, the digestive tract and skin. While this has yet to be confirmed by human clinical trials, in the picture that emerges from the research so far, quercetin looks like a rescue nutrient for allergy sufferers.
Reports from Quercetin Users
I have seen numerous reports from individuals who have indeed achieved significant reductions in allergic sensitivity by using quercetin. And this includes food allergies as well as environmental allergies. Anecdotal stories like these carry little weight among scientists, because they do not provide evidence that the observed result will be repeated in other cases. Only placebo-controlled, double-blind studies can produce this kind of scientific proof. Yet, when anectodal evidence (this includes physician "case reports") correlates with the results of pharmacological research such as we have on quercetin, I believe it should be taken seriously. And quercetin is a nutrient that works effectively when taken as a dietary supplement.
For example, one gentleman writes that his wife, who is allergic to pollen and dust, is now "sneeze-free" after using quercetin for three years. A Pennsylvania woman writes that her husband, also a long time allergy sufferer, "seems to be nearly allergy free" after one month of use. Another man says that "quercetin has literally changed my life." These are not isolated cases; a respected nutritionist who specializes in allergies and environmental problems has seen many similar outcomes with a quercetin. Clearly something significant is going on with respect to quercetin as a nutritional approach for overcoming allergies.
Bear in mind, though, that quercetin does not function like an antihistamine medication; it is not a quick fix. As a nutrient that helps to normalize body functions naturally, quercetin needs time to work, and should be taken for at least two or three weeks to achieve these results.
Quercetin Quiets the Allergic Response
Exerting a broad range of biological effects, quercetin is perhaps the most active and versatile flavonoid. In test-tube studies, quercetin acts directly on the mast cell in a way that quiets the allergic response.
An allergic reaction occurs when IgE antibodies, positioned on the mast cell surface, come in contact with a potential allergy-causing substance like pollen. The mast cell is then signaled to release histamine from storage granules located inside the cell, through a process called "degranulation." The histamine circulates throughout the body, causing the runny nose, itching and other discomfort.