What’s All the Buzz About Quercetin?

Quercetin has been in the news lately, particularly as one of many potential therapeutics that might have some benefit in the prevention or treatment of COVID infection. Is there anything to this?

Big media and the medical establishment are quick to pounce on any “unapproved” potential therapeutics that haven’t gone through large prospective randomized clinical trials and don’t have the seal of FDA approval. Even FDA approval is not enough if the medications are being used off-label, as in the case of hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin.  Decades ago, both were deemed safe and effective by the FDA and approved for human use, although not for COVID or similar viral infections as COVID didn’t even exist when the FDA approved these medications.

Today there is a peculiar hostility toward these medications, both of which are on the list of the World Health Organization’s essential medicines. A Fox News host told viewers that hydroxychloroquine “will kill you” and the FDA told its Twitter followers that ivermectin is for horses and cows and to stop using it. This must have been shocking news to millions around the world who take these medications, some for many years, in the U.S. prescribed by a physician, and elsewhere in the world readily available over the counter.

I am not advocating for or against these drugs, instead referring interested readers to other sources of information on the science and potential benefits of these medications in our fight against COVID. Quercetin appears to be the third in this line of potential therapeutics, not yet being called horse paste but, if history is a guide, it may soon be maligned as dog and cat medicine, something that can also be said for many drugs taken by humans but also used in animals.

What is quercetin? It’s described as “a pigment” which may lead CNN or Fox News to equate its use to drinking paint. Technically it is a flavonoid, “a group of plant metabolites thought to provide health benefits through cell signaling pathways and antioxidant effects. These molecules are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables.”

These compounds have several health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and degenerative brain disorders through anti-inflammatory effects as a free radical scavenger. While present in fruits, vegetables, and green tea, it is also available as a non-prescription supplement in capsule or powder form.

Quercetin, like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, is a zinc ionophore, facilitating the entry of zinc into cells where it interferes with viral replication, potentially suppressing COVID infection.

Could quercetin be of benefit against COVID, or for that matter, the common cold or the flu? As are always told to “follow the science”, what does science say?

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