When people are diagnosed with conditions like cancer, they know they are up against a strong process in their bodies. They understand that the treatments available, chemotherapy, and radiation, are just as challenging as the condition itself.
In preparation for treating cancer, some people start looking for ways to make the healing process more manageable and less damaging to their whole body, especially their immune systems.
While many claims have been made discussing the healing aspects of different nutrients, a new study is revealing the benefits of an underestimated and powerful antioxidant: quercetin for prostate health.
What is Quercetin?
While quercetin has made a name for itself in the supplement world, many people are still unclear about what it is.
Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant that you will find in many colorful fruits and vegetables. If you’re eating apples, oranges, dark berries (ex. blueberries and blackberries), peppers, tomatoes, red onion, asparagus, or leafy green vegetables, chances are you’ve been taking in some dietary sources of quercetin.
When people have serious health conditions, they need extra nutritional support and may look for more concentrated forms of nutrients.
A group of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science looked at how quercetin worked to support the body. What they found was that quercetin helped normal cell death (induction of apoptosis) and it blocked cell division.
These two processes are essential when discussing cancer because they are central mechanisms in the development of cancer. Cancer cells are problematic because they grow in an uncontrolled fashion and continue to multiply. There is no mechanism in place to stop their growth.
When a nutrient like quercetin comes in to support normal cell death, there is a controlled process for the disintegration of those cells. Uncontrolled cell death leaves cell fragments loose within tissues and creates an environment where decay can happen. All cells have a natural life cycle.
They are created, and they should also die off so that new cells can take their place and grow. When that process is functioning normally, the body can enjoy good health from vibrant new cells.
The research team also found that quercetin can kill highly aggressive leukemia cells. And these are strains of cells which have proven to be resistant to some of the most active anti-cancer drugs.
The cancer-fighting benefits of quercetin
Researchers wanted to know how well quercetin could work. To test this, they induced cancer in laboratory mice and treated them with quercetin.
They found that the size of the tumor cells was significantly smaller after treatment, indicating that it may act as a tumor suppressor.
Quercetin also interacted with the mice’s DNA, which was another mechanism by which it helped to kill cancer cells. Incidentally, while quercetin had these effects on the cancer cells, it did not interfere with normal, healthy cells.
This study shows great promise for quercetin’s ability to help many people obtain healthy cell function faster. It’s possible that in the future, quercetin might be used as a natural therapy on its own for cancer treatment or in conjunction with conventional treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.
Does quercetin help prostate cancer?
A further study reviewed the anti-cancer effects of quercetin on prostate cancer. The researchers found that quercetin exerts its anti-cancer effects by modulating ROS, Akt, and NF-κB pathways.
Quercetin treatment also significantly decreased the cell viability of prostate cancer cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner, without affecting normal cells. It was concluded that quercetin could be used as a chemopreventive option as well as in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs to improve clinical outcomes of prostate cancer patients.
As an antioxidant, quercetin fights free radicals, particles that cause cell damage throughout the body. Free radicals are abundantly available through toxins. They can be found in the air we breathe and chemicals in our food supply. Cells damaged by free radicals negatively affect how they work.
Free radicals can harm the health of cell membranes. This can lead to increased mutations of cells, alter how DNA works, and lead to the death of healthy cells.
Quercetin’s capacity to support different tissues has been seen in research studies looking at colon, prostate, breast, and lung tumors with enhanced function for those tissues.
Does quercetin help prostatitis?
There are three different classifications of prostatitis: acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, and chronic nonbacterial prostatitis.
The most common symptoms of prostatitis include pelvic pain, painful urination and ejaculation, and sexual dysfunction. These symptoms can have a devastating impact on the quality of life.
Quercetin is a Tier 1 Supplement, meaning it has many successful clinical studies and research that support its effectiveness.
Inflammation is another area where quercetin appears to affect the prostate and overall health positively.
We know that inflammation is at the core of many chronic health conditions. Addressing it is one of the first steps to healing. Some preliminary research showed quercetin might be helpful for symptoms related to nonbacterial prostatitis and acute bacterial prostatitis.
A randomized double-blind study published in the Journal of Urology reviewed men who had chronic nonbacterial prostatitis/ chronic pelvic pain (CP/CPPS). The men were given either a placebo or 500mg of quercetin twice a day for a month. The study results showed that at the end of the month, the men’s International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) fell from 21.0 to 13.1 in the quercetin group and from 20.2 to 18.8 in the placebo group.
Besides being helpful for chronic prostatitis /Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome, studies also show that quercetin may also help men with chronic bacterial prostatitis. Especially when combined with other supplements, such as saw palmetto, it has been shown to improve symptoms.
Quercetin, curcumin, saw palmetto, and stinging nettle
A prospective, randomized study was conducted to determine the therapeutic effect of combining extracts of quercetin and curcumin with saw palmetto and stinging nettle. This was compared with the antibiotic prulifloxacin in men with chronic bacterial prostatitis.
The researchers found that after one month, 89.6% of men who received the natural formulas had no symptoms of prostatitis compared with only 27% of the men in the antibiotic-only group.
Six months after the study ended, no patients who had received natural formulas had a recurrence of prostatitis or prostatitis symptoms. The authors concluded that the association of quercetin, curcumin, saw palmetto, and stinging nettle extracts can improve the clinical efficacy of prulifloxacin in men who have chronic bacterial prostatitis.
Although more research needs to be done, the University of Maryland medical center states that people with autoimmune conditions have reported symptom relief when using quercetin.
Does quercetin help BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)?
An enlarged prostate is a common problem that affects 50% of men by the time they reach 60. Symptoms of BPH can include:
- urinary urgency
- urinary hesitation
- not being able to empty the bladder fully
- a weaker or intermittent urine stream
- nocturia (frequently needing to urinate during the night).
Over time it can cause damage to the urinary tract and bladder, including increasing the risk of developing bladder cancer.
Luckily, quercetin has also been indicated as a potential treatment for an enlarged prostate. In a double-blind randomized clinical trial, 200 men with BPH symptoms were randomly divided into two groups.
One group was treated with quercetin (40 drop TDS) and the other group with a placebo. The results showed that the men taking quercetin experienced improvement in BPH symptoms and an increase in urine flow rates.
Does quercetin help cardiovascular health?
Another area of interest to point out with quercetin involves the cardiovascular system. Some animal and human studies suggest that it can decrease the risk of developing atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque along the walls of arteries. Plaque buildup can obstruct blood flow and lead to heart attacks or strokes.
Quercetin, along with other antioxidants like resveratrol and catechin, has been noted to protect against damage caused by LDL cholesterol. Historically, LDL cholesterol has been considered the “bad” cholesterol that is involved in the formation of plaques.
By this mechanism, it is thought to prevent death from heart disease. One study found that quercetin lowered the concentration of LDL cholesterol in overweight subjects at high risk of developing heart disease. Quercetin has also been reported to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
As it relates to heart health, many of the studies looking at the benefits of quercetin have researched its function through food.
Herbs like sage, coriander, or Japanese sophora flower contain quercetin. While some herbs are edible and can be included in meals, others are not. That’s when having a supplemental form of it is helpful.
Including a powerful antioxidant like quercetin supplements in your daily diet is one way to reap the benefits. Research has shown that it can improve prostate health and help to relieve symptoms.
Having it in supplement form further increases the benefits you can get from it.
Studies are ongoing to review its benefits as a treatment. For now, it’s proving to be a nutrient you don’t want to miss out on!