Quercetin has been available as a dietary supplement for decades. This plant-derived compound can be found in various foods, such as onions, apples, red wine, grapefruit juice, orange juice, pomegranate juice, as well as white, green and black teas. It is an antioxidant and has been shown to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (the so-called “bad cholesterol”)–thus checking one of the primary processes implicated in the development of cardiovascular disease. It has also been investigated as a support for respiratory function.
But what excited us recently were reports about the potential of Quercetin to thwart the hepatitis C virus, and so perhaps provide a new, less toxic way of combating this debilitating disease that affects an estimated 270 to 320 million people worldwide. While there are currently approved treatments for hepatitis C (ribavirin and interferon), they can have significant side effects, and are not always effective. The recent Quercetin research, published in 2010, finds that this plant-derived compound may inhibit hepatitis C replication in a novel way, targeting cellular proteins rather than viral proteins. Clinical trials with Quercetin are now planned, and will focus especially on a type of hepatitis C that is least susceptible to successful treatment by the current medications. We will certainly stay tuned for more news on this topic!
Samuel W. French, et al. The heat shock protein inhibitor Quercetin attenuates hepatitis C virus production. Hepatology, Volume 50 Issue 6, Pages 1756 – 1764.