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The Seasonal Allergy Sufferer and the Potential of Quercetin

Are you one of the approximately forty percent of people with allergies or seasonal allergies? Do Claritin and Flonase work for you somewhat or not at all? I don’t know about you, but every spring, I get blasted with seasonal allergies. Symptoms range from coughing, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing to migraine headaches. I occasionally use over-the-counter allergy medications with varying degrees of success.

Fortunately, I have found another tool in my seasonal allergy fight: quercetin.

Quercetin is a naturally occurring flavonol, or flavonoid, the yellowish antioxidant pigment found in skins of onions, berries, apples, berries, tomatoes, and buckwheat tea. It is a potent mast cell stabilizer (mast cells are what produce histamine, the molecule released in response to cells coming into contact with allergens, which is what makes you sneeze and look like a 2-year-old with snot coming out of your nose).

By stabilizing mast cells, quercetin inhibits the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators. Studies indicate that it works better than Cromolyn, an old asthma medication with some nasty side effects. The good news about quercetin is it is very well-tolerated. 

Because of similar inflammatory pathways that affect asthmatics and patients with urticaria (hives) eczema, quercetin can also have potential benefits for that patient population.

Also, consider reducing histamine-rich foods if you have any of the above ailments. Recent studies on patients with urticaria showed that eliminating tuna, mackerel, pork, chicken, and spinach and fermented foods such as cabbage, yogurt, cheese, wine, and beer for four weeks had significant clinical improvements in urticaria severity and plasma histamine levels. Here’s to less mucus, itching, coughing, and sneezing everywhere!


John Kelley, MD
Family Medicine and Certified Functional Medicine PhysicianPhoto of Dr. John Kelley

Clinic Locations: Erie and Louisville, Colorado 

As a Family Medicine and Certified Functional Medicine physician, John Kelley, MD, practices holistic medicine in the broadest sense. For him, every patient is approached as an individual with specific needs, focusing on the mind-body connection through a bio-psycho-social lens.

In addition to Western medicine, Dr. Kelley utilizes evidence-based Eastern medicine, natural supplementation, and training in the ever-expanding field of Integrative and Functional Medicine. He is available for in-person and telemedicine appointments for patients of all ages.

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