Quercetin: What We Can Learn From the Romans - Part 1

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted November 16, 2021

Dear Longevity Insider,

Quercetin is thought to be discovered when Romans began using the leaves of oak trees to treat diarrhea. The name quercetin has been used since 1857, deriving from quercetum (oak forest), after Quercus. Also known as quercitrin, this chemical is found in various plants and vegetables including onions, kale, blueberries, apples, and beans. It's also found in red wine (usually in lower concentrations than grape skin). In 1930, Albert Szent-Györgyi, won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of quercetin as the antiscorbutic factor in green leaves. 

Quercetin is a plant compound that belongs to the flavonoid family of phytochemicals, which are found in plant foods. Phytochemicals have a molecular makeup of carbon rings and their antioxidant properties serve to protect the plant from environmental stress (such as excessive light, heat, or certain chemicals).

Phytochemicals are generally known to have antioxidant properties, which means that they help defend the body against free radicals. Free radicals are harmful compounds that can damage cells and lead to disease. It's also the most abundant dietary flavonol found in food — it's estimated that 25-40% of all flavonoids consumed come from quercetin.

There are also many other different types of phytochemicals that quercetin belongs to besides flavonoids: coumarin and isoflavones. Coumarin differ from flavonoids in that they contain benzopyran instead of benzofuran. Benzopyran is not a carbon ring but rather a heterocycle, meaning that a nitrogen atom in the benzopyran ring replaces a carbon in a carbon ring.

Botanical sources that contain coumarin include Teucrium polium, Melilotus officinalis, and Daucus carota. Benzofuran, in contrast, is a carbon ring with an oxygen atom added to it, which forms a heterocycle. In plants, quercetin serves as a non-antioxidant protective compound that is often converted to an antioxidant compound during processing.

Studies have shown that quercetin has a wide range of biological actions including anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities; as well as attenuating lipid peroxidation, platelet aggregation and capillary permeability.

What Does the Reserch Show?

In a study, quercetin was reported as a long-lasting anti-inflammatory substance that also showcased strong anti-inflammatory capacities

Several studies have shown that auercetin prevents TNF-α production in macrophages, LPS-induced IL-8 production in lung A549 cells, and LPS induced mRNA levels of TNF-α and interleukin (IL)-1α. Quercetin also stops inflammation producing enzymes including cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX). 

But this is just the beginning. Quercetin has been shown to do so much more. In fact, it's a small part of a bigger puzzle in the fight to outsmart early aging.

Here's what I mean.

To your longevity,

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ