Halt Hay Fever with Quercetin

Halt Hay Fever with Quercetin

Spring and summer are the seasons we all look forward to. The sun beaming down on your face, a warm breeze rippling through your clothes, and your nose filled with the sweet aromas of foliage bursting to life. But for those who suffer with hay fever and seasonal allergies, it can be a real time of dread. Instead of being able to enjoy everything this time of year has to offer, dealing with the symptoms of hay fever can leave us feeling run down, bunged up and downright irritable. Furthermore, it’s not as uncommon as you might think; in a recent survey conducted by Allergy UK[1], up to 49% of the UK population reported experiencing hay fever symptoms, with 37% of those developing symptoms for the first time in the last 5 years.

Despite its prevalence, there is currently no cure for hay fever, and treatment revolves around avoiding triggers and managing the symptoms with medication, resulting in many of us popping antihistamines and painkillers on a daily basis just to get through the season. What if there was an alternative, a way to manage hay fever naturally? Quercetin, a naturally occurring molecule, has been touted as a possible option for relief of hay fever symptoms. Let’s explore in more detail…

What exactly is hay fever?

Hay Fever, also known as Seasonal or Allergic Rhinitis, is an allergic reaction caused by specific allergens; these are typically types of pollen, such as tree, weed or grass pollen, but can also be the result of an allergic response to dust mites, mould or pet dander[2]. When an affected person is exposed to a trigger allergen, their immune system sees this as a threat and responds by activating the release of the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to help defend the body from the perceived attack. In turn, it triggers the release of a chemical called histamine from the mast cells of the immune system. Histamine’s role is to clear the allergen from the body, and it does so by producing an inflammatory response. While the body’s intention is to keep you safe, this inflammation is what causes the symptoms associated with hay fever[3].

Common symptoms of hay fever include sneezing, itchy eyes, mouth and throat, a blocked or runny nose and lethargy. Some people may also experience headaches, earaches and hives[4]. In the UK, hay fever symptoms tend to be experienced between mid-March and September, depending on which type of pollen(s) a sufferer reacts to. For example, tree pollen typically occurs from late March to mid-May, while weed pollen is highest from the end of June until around September[5]. If an affected person’s trigger allergens are dust mites, mould or pet dander, it is entirely possible for them to suffer with symptoms all year round.

What is Quercetin?

Quercetin is a type of phytonutrient; phytonutrients are natural compounds present in plants which give them their specific colours and tastes. Phytonutrients help plants to survive by resisting fungi, bacteria and virus infections, and it is these characteristics that have positive effects on human health. Quercetin belongs to a particular group of phytonutrients called flavonoids, found in a range of fruits, vegetables and grains; quercetin can be found in particularly high levels in red wine, onions, green tea, apples, and berries. In fact, it is the most abundant flavonoid in the human diet and it is thought most people eat up to 100mg on average per day[6]. Quercetin has been linked to reduced risk of some cancers, heart disease and degenerative brain disorders[7], and research demonstrates it has many positive effects on the human body which may be beneficial for managing the symptoms of hay fever.

How can Quercetin halt hay fever?

Like many phytonutrients, quercetin acts as an antioxidant in the body – in fact, it is thought to be one of the most potent of the flavanoids with antioxidant capability. Antioxidants work to eradicate free radicals; free radicals are unstable molecules which can damage nearby healthy cells – this is one of the key causes of inflammation. Antioxidants work by ‘donating’ an electron to free radicals to stabilise them so that they can no longer cause damage to cells. As the symptoms of hay fever are primarily caused by the inflammatory response, antioxidants may be a useful solution. In-vitro and animal studies have found that quercetin may also block enzymes involved in inflammation and suppress inflammation-promoting chemicals, such as histamine[8]. It has also been demonstrated that quercetin supplementation can suppress the formation of antigen-specific IgE, by stabilising the cell membranes of mast cells. Finally, flavonoids, such as quercetin, are known to inhibit histamine release from human basophils and murine mast cells[9]. It is this combination of actions that researchers elude may be helpful in inhibiting the immune response, and subsequent symptoms, of hay fever.

What to eat?

Quercetin can be sourced through eating a healthy, balanced diet, particularly rich in foods such as onions, apples and berries. The typical dosage of quercetin used in studies ranges from 500-1000mg per day and has been found to be safe and tolerable; however, as there have currently been very few studies of quercetin use for hay fever in humans, it may be prudent to err of the side of caution with a lower dose. It is also worth noting that achieving even the lower end of the scale may be challenging through diet alone, and therefore supplementation may be warranted for the management of hay fever. Finally, it has been stated that quercetin alone has low bioavailability, so should be consumed with source of vitamin C or bromelain to aid absorption[10] – luckily mother nature has taken care of this for us, with most foods rich in quercetin also containing vitamin C. Our quercetin capsules provide 300mg of high-potency quercetin and 75mg of vitamin C to both aid absorption and prevent early oxidation.

To conclude, quercetin is a phytonutrient with high antioxidant potential, and as such may prove to be a useful natural remedy for the relief of hay fever symptoms. Quercetin can be sourced from a range of foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains, though supplementation may be advised to boost intake.

[1] Hay fever: Allergy UK: National Charity (no date) Allergy UK | National Charity. Available at: https://www.allergyuk.org/types-of-allergies/hayfever/ (Accessed: April 11, 2023).

[2] Allergic rhinitis (hay fever): Symptoms, diagnosis & treatment (no date) Cleveland Clinic. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8622-allergic-rhinitis-hay-fever (Accessed: April 11, 2023).

[3] Bjermer, L. et al. (2019) “The complex pathophysiology of allergic rhinitis: Scientific rationale for the development of an alternative treatment option,” Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, 15(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13223-018-0314-1.

[4] NHS (no date) Hay Fever, NHS choices. NHS. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/ (Accessed: April 11, 2023).

[5] When is hay fever season in the UK? (no date) Met Office. Available at: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/seasonal-advice/health-wellbeing/pollen/when-is-hayfever-season#:~:text=Tree%20pollen%20occurs%20first%2C%20typically,affects%20around%2025%25%20of%20people. (Accessed: April 11, 2023).

[6] Mlcek, J. et al. (2016) “Quercetin and its anti-allergic immune response,” Molecules, 21(5), p. 623. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules21050623.

[7] Lakhanpal, P. and Rai, D.K. (2007) “Quercetin: A versatile flavonoid,” Internet Journal of Medical Update – EJOURNAL, 2(2). Available at: https://doi.org/10.4314/ijmu.v2i2.39851.

[8] Chirumbolo, S. (2010) “The role of quercetin, flavonols and flavones in modulating inflammatory cell function,” Inflammation & Allergy – Drug Targets, 9(4), pp. 263–285. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2174/187152810793358741.

[9] Jafarinia, M. et al. (2020) “Quercetin with the potential effect on allergic diseases,” Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, 16(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13223-020-00434-0.

[10] Terao, J. (2017) “Factors modulating bioavailability of quercetin-related flavonoids and the consequences of their vascular function,” Biochemical Pharmacology, 139, pp. 15–23. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2017.03.021.

Previous Post
Cellular Energy
Next Post
Ageing and oxidative stress

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed


Elisabeth Philipps

Karen Devine

Karen Devine

Shelley Harvey

Related Blogs:

AllergiesAntioxidantsHay FeverImmune SupportPhytonutrientsPollenQuercetinVitamin C

Like this article? Share with your friends!