The Health Benefits of Quercetin

The flavonoid may help to reduce blood pressure

In This Article

Quercetin is a chemical found naturally in a number of foods including apples, onions, teas, berries, and red wine. This flavonoid is also found in some herbs such as ginkgo biloba and St. John's wort.

Quercetin acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals—the chemical by-products that harm cell membranes and damage DNA. Available as a dietary supplement, quercetin also possesses antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties.

woman shopping for apples
Betsie Van Der Meer/Taxi/Getty Images

Health Benefits

In alternative medicine, quercetin is said to help with the following conditions:

So far, results to support the benefits of quercetin are mixed—with some conditions examined only in test tubes or on animals. Here's how the research shakes out:

Allergy Relief

Quercetin is thought to prevent the release of histamine—an inflammatory chemical involved in allergic symptoms such as sneezing and itching—from certain immune cells. Although lab experiments suggest that quercetin may help fight allergic conditions like allergic rhinitis, most have been performed in vitro or in animals. Researchers recommend further studies on humans to prove a correlation.

High Blood Pressure

A 2016 review of randomized controlled trials found quercetin significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, particularly in diabetics who were given at least 500 milligrams per day. It's still unclear the precise dosage and duration to see the most benefits.

Athletic Endurance

Quercetin may be no better than a placebo when it comes to enhancing athletic performance, according to a 2011 review of 11 previous studies. All studies showed a boost in exercise endurance via VO2 max—oxygen consumption during physical activity—when people ingested quercetin but the effect was minimal.

Another study found a more impressive link. A 2013 study analyzing 60 male students who've participated in athletics for at least three years saw improved lean body mass, total body water, basal metabolic rate, and total energy expenditure after taking quercetin.

Cancer

Studies on cell cultures have shown that quercetin may help slow the growth of some types of cancer cells. Some in vitro and animal-based research indicates that quercetin may protect against certain types of cancer, such as leukemia and lung cancer. For example, a 2010 study looked at the relationship between quercetin intake and lung cancer risk in 38 non-tumor lung tissues and found an inverse correlation—the higher the intake of quercetin, the lower the risk.

However, since there is currently a lack of human studies on quercetin's cancer-fighting effects, it's too soon to tell whether quercetin might play a significant role in cancer prevention.

Possible Side Effects

Quercetin is generally well-tolerated when used in appropriate amounts. Some have reported tingling in the arms and legs, as well as upset stomach and headaches when taking quercetin orally. Very high doses—greater than 1 gram per day—might cause kidney damage.

Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications—particularly antibiotics—has not been established.

Dosage and Preparation

Under the care of medical supervision, quercetin has been safely used in amounts up to 1,000 mg twice daily for 12 weeks. There is not enough evidence to know if it is safe for long-term use.

The appropriate dose for you may depend on factors including your age, gender, and medical history. Speak to your healthcare provider to get personalized advice if you choose to take this supplement.

What to Look For

Food sources of quercetin include teas, onions, apples, buckwheat, and pau d'arco. When taking quercetin in supplement form, it may be beneficial to choose a product that also contains papain and/or bromelain. These are plant-derived enzymes (fruit extracts) shown to increase the intestine's absorption of quercetin.

Due to the lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend quercetin for any health purpose. If you're considering using it, consult your primary care provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Quercetin. Updated December 6, 2016.

  2. Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Skrovankova S, Sochor J. Quercetin and its anti-allergic immune response. Molecules. 2016;21(5):623. doi:10.3390/molecules21050623

  3. Serban MC, Sahebkar A, Zanchetti A, et al. Effects of quercetin on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016;5(7). doi:10.1161/JAHA.115.002713

  4. Kressler J, Millard-stafford M, Warren GL. Quercetin and endurance exercise capacity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(12):2396-404. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e31822495a7

  5. Askari G, Ghiasvand R, Paknahad Z, et al. The effects of quercetin supplementation on body composition, exercise performance and muscle damage indices in athletes. Int J Prev Med. 2013;4(1):21-6.

  6. Lam TK, Rotunno M, Lubin JH, et al. Dietary quercetin, quercetin-gene interaction, metabolic gene expression in lung tissue and lung cancer risk. Carcinogenesis. 2010;31(4):634-42. doi:10.1093/carcin/bgp334

  7. Penn State Hershey Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Quercetin. Updated October 19, 2015.

  8. Jin F, Nieman DC, Shanely RA, Knab AM, Austin MD, Sha W. The variable plasma quercetin response to 12-week quercetin supplementation in humans. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010;64(7):692-7. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.91

Additional Reading