Health Benefits of Quercetin (Plus the Best Quercetin Supplements for Histamine Intolerance and MCAS)
The health benefits of quercetin supplements helped me get major relief from some of my worst Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance symptoms.
Have you tried quercetin yet?
It’s one of the most powerful supplements for mast cell support. And it can help with histamine responses, too.
But when I first tried it, I was extremely sensitive. There were so many foods and supplements that I didn’t tolerate well.
As a result, I got worsened insomnia and anxiety when I first tried to onboard quercetin supplements.
When you tried quercetin in the past, did you also have trouble?
I’d seen so much research on the health benefits of quercetin, though. I wanted to try to come back to it when I was more tolerant.
Over the course of time, I started working on stabilizing my nervous system. This was a huge step toward getting my mast cells calmed down.
And I was able to onboard other mast cell supporting supplements more easily.
Together, that calmed my mast cells enough so that I could try to reintroduce quercetin supplements.
And when I introduced it, I started very slowly. I also tried a different type than I’d used previously.
And I was successful in onboarding quercetin supplements!
So, how do you find the best quercetin supplement when the time is right for you? And how can you onboard it gently?
And what can you do to support your mast cells if you still can’t tolerate quercetin supplements?
I want to share with you some of the tips I’ve learned.
Keep reading to learn about:
- What quercetin is
- Health benefits of quercetin
- How to get more quercetin from your food
- The best quercetin supplements
- How to onboard quercetin supplements gently
- Who should not take quercetin
What Is Quercetin?
Quercetin has a lot of health benefits, especially for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
But what exactly is quercetin?
Quercetin is a flavonol.
Flavonols are a category of flavonoids (also called bioflavonoids).
And flavonoids are a category of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are chemicals plants produce. One purpose is to protect themselves from various infections caused by bacteria and fungi.
Fun Fact: Flavonoids are plant pigments. You’ll find these flavonoids in brightly colored produce.
You’ve probably heard that eating brightly colored fruits and veggies is good for your health.
Those bright colors are created in part by flavonoids.
And studies show that flavonoids have a lot of health benefits.
Flavonoids Are Antioxidants
Antioxidants fight free radicals.
Free radicals are particles found everywhere in our modern world. And they damage your cells.
Any of the following can increase free radical production in the body:
- Mycotoxins (toxins from mold)
- Exposure to chemical toxins
- Exposure to environmental pollutants like from air pollution
- Eating fried foods
- Radiation like EMFs and X-rays
Free radicals can cause cell damage. That’s why an increase in free radical production can be a problem.
And free radicals can lead to oxidative stress.
Basically, oxidative stress is when your body doesn’t have the ability to detoxify reactive particles like free radicals.
It can be simply interpreted as an imbalance in your body between free radicals and antioxidants.
Some research indicates free radicals:
- Cause damage to cell membranes
- Alter DNA
- Trigger the onset of disease
But flavonoids like quercetin can have protective effects that may reduce or help prevent some of the damage from free radicals.
Antioxidant properties are just one of the wellness benefits flavonoids, like quercetin, can have.
Keep reading to learn more about the beneficial effects of quercetin—including how it can help with MCAS or Histamine Intolerance.
Health Benefits of Quercetin
There are many health benefits of quercetin.
You just read that free radicals can cause cell damage. In other words, they pose a threat to your body.
And any time you have a threat to your body, your mast cells take action.
So, you can see where neutralizing those free radicals with antioxidants can be one way to help support your mast cells. And reduce mast cell activation.
But that’s just one way quercetin can help support you if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
Keep reading to learn more.
Quercetin, Histamine Intolerance, and MCAS
In vitro studies (petri dish studies) and some animal studies have shown that quercetin can help stabilize the membranes of mast cells.
This is a big benefit for several reasons.
Your mast cells are an important part of your immune system. But when they are over-reactive and you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, that’s what causes problems.
One of the problems is that when mast cell receptors are triggered, they can release histamine. And histamine causes the mast cells to react further.
So, you can get into a cycle where your mast cells are continually triggered. And histamine release keeps happening, which adds to your histamine load.
That’s not good if you have MCAS or Histamine Intolerance. If you have MCAS and/or Histamine Intolerance, you’ve likely experienced a range of symptoms and conditions associated with them.
Related Article: Take the Mast Cell Activation Syndrome Symptoms Survey
Additionally, histamine leads to inflammation.
Inflammation can also trigger the mast cells.
By stabilizing the mast cells, you get anti-inflammatory properties and antihistamine effects. Both support your health if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
Additional Health Benefits of Quercetin
You just read how histamine can lead to inflammation.
If you have Histamine Intolerance, your body can’t keep up with the amount of histamine present in your system.
So, with histamine intolerance, you can end up with lots of histamine build up in your body. And histamine creates inflammation.
Inflammation isn’t all bad. In some cases, it’s an appropriate immune response to help your body deal with threats like injury.
But chronic inflammation is problematic. And if you have chronic histamine release, you’ll have chronic inflammation.
Research indicates that chronic inflammation can increase risk factors for diseases like:
- Cardiovascular Disease (heart disease)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Impaired respiratory function (COPD, allergic asthma)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
But quercetin may support your health in multiple ways.
Multiple studies show quercetin to have:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Anti-cancer properties (may inhibit cancer cell growth and reproduction)
- Antiviral activities
- Immunomodulatory properties (helps with immune health / immune support)
- Antioxidant effects
And in addition to the mast cell support you read about earlier, quercetin has also been shown in studies to help:
- Improve high blood pressure
- Benefit cardiovascular health (heart health)
- Lower LDL cholesterol
Quercetin has also been shown to help with nasal inflammation. So, if you have allergic rhinitis or sinus issues, quercetin may help.
Here’s one more way quercetin can help support your wellness.
Quercetin and Brain Health
One thing I personally worry about is losing my brain function over time.
This is because I’ve had so many concussions.
Research has shown that brain injuries increase your risk of cognitive decline or dementia.
Additionally, I have the APOE genetic variant that increases my risk for Alzheimer’s Disease by 30%.
But genetic risk can be offset by life choices like a healthier diet, cleaner environment, and more.
In fact, our life choices have a much bigger impact on these types of risks than our genes.
So, I do everything I can to support my brain health.
Quercetin has been shown to have neuroprotective effects. That means it can support brain health.
You read earlier that quercetin has antioxidant effects. Meaning quercetin can combat cell toxicity caused by free radicals. This applies to cells in your brain as well as other parts of your body.
Studies show that quercetin can suppress processes that lead to brain inflammation. It does this by lowering the response of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Cytokines are proteins released by your cells. They are cell mediators, meaning they are chemical messengers in your body.
So, by reducing this response, you’ll have less of this detrimental inflammation.
Additionally, studies show quercetin can stimulate brain cell regeneration.
That means damaged neurons can be repaired.
Quercetin has also been shown to improve learning, memory, and cognitive functions.
That’s a lot of beneficial effects of quercetin!
So, how can you get more quercetin to support your mast cells and overall wellness?
Let’s look at both foods high in quercetin and the best quercetin supplements for MCAS.
Foods High in Quercetin
You’ll find quercetin and other dietary flavonoids in food sources like fresh fruits and veggies. Especially brightly colored ones.
But not all food sources of quercetin are going to be good choices if you have MCAS or Histamine Intolerance.
High Histamine Foods with Quercetin
There are many great food sources for quercetin.
But here are a few high quercetin foods that are also high histamine. You may need to limit or avoid these if you have Histamine Intolerance.
- Citrus Fruits – many are high histamine or trigger histamine release
- Red Wine – alcohol is high histamine and moldy grapes can aggravate mast cell activation
- Green Tea – the plant, camellia sinensis, from which green tea is made can reduce DAO (a histamine degrading enzyme) and caffeine can promote histamine release
Related Article: High Histamine Foods List
Next, look at some of the foods that are low histamine with quercetin.
Quercetin Rich Low Histamine Foods
Here are some low histamine foods with higher amounts of quercetin.
I’ve singled these out since I’ve got recipes with these ingredients to help you start emphasizing them in your meals.
You can see my full Low Histamine Foods List here.
Let’s start with one of my favorite foods: Onions!
All onions have some amount of quercetin. But you’ll find more quercetin in yellow onions. And you’ll find even more in red onions.
Green onions contain quercetin, too. And if you just eat the green part, they are low FODMAP.
Related Article: What to know about FODMAPs and SIBO if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
And onions are low salicylate, too!
You read earlier that quercetin is a flavonoid. That’s a plant pigment. That can help you remember that onions with more color have more quercetin.
Check out these onion containing recipes:
When it comes to seasoning savory dishes, you’ll see a lot of recipes call for garlic, onions, chives, and shallots. These are all good sources of quercetin.
Of these, chives rates among the highest in quercetin.
And chives have been shown to have greater antioxidant properties than even garlic or shallots.
Chives make a good choice for those who are sensitive to salicylates or oxalates.
TIP: Chives are easy to grow in your garden.
Enjoy these recipe with chives:
Many leafy greens have quercetin. One that is a particularly good source of quercetin is kale.
But be sure to get organic kale. Kale often has high levels of pesticide residue.
And if you have Oxalate Intolerance, stick to lacinato, also called dinosaur kale. This kale is the one with the flatter leaf.
Curly kale is low histamine, but it’s high oxalate.
Olive oil is technically high histamine. But it also raises DAO (diamine oxidase), which is a histamine degrading enzyme.
Because of that, many people with Histamine Intolerance are still able to do well with it. But others may not be able to.
If can tolerate a wider variety of foods, but you aren’t sure about olive oil, just start with a little bit if you want to add it to your diet.
Olive oil is one of my go-to oils for cooking. But not all olive oils are created equally!
Check out this article on the frauds in the olive oil industry and how you can find a good quality olive oil.
Related Article: Olive Oil – Avoiding the Frauds and Finding the Truth
And here’s a quick recipe idea that gets 2 foods high in quercetin in one tasty snack. Homemade kale chips tossed in olive oil.
Homemade kale chips are easy to make and low histamine!
- Break up your kale leaves into pieces.
- Toss in a high-quality olive oil and salt to taste.
- Spread the kale evenly on a cookie sheet.
- Bake in your oven at about 275 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until crisp.
Other recipes that use olive oil are:
I use apples in a lot of recipes. There are high concentrations of quercetin in apple peels. To get the most quercetin out of your apples, you’ll want to leave the skins on.
Most of the quercetin is found in the peels of apples.
This means apples may not be the best choice if you have Salicylate Intolerance.
For an apple to be low salicylate, you need to peel it and eat only the meat. There is still some quercetin in the fruit, but not nearly as much.
Eat apples on their own or try enjoying them in one of these tasty low histamine recipes:
You might be most familiar with parsley as a garnish. But parsley has a lot of great benefits!
Parsley is a great source of quercetin.
It’s also been shown to have:
- Anti-bacterial properties
- Anti-fungal properties
- Antioxidant properties
- Vitamin C
Parsley has an earthy flavor with a hint of pepperiness. Not as much pepperiness as arugula, but just enough to give it some great flavor.
TIP: Arugula is also a good source of quercetin and makes a great substitute for high histamine spinach in many recipes.
Flat leaf parsley is lower oxalate. Curly parsley is high oxalate.
Learn More: Oxalate Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome & Low Oxalate Foods List
Parsley is also low salicylate.
I like to use parsley on a lot of dishes, but some of the favorites are:
I love cherries. They are tasty, versatile, and loaded with nutrients…including quercetin.
Cherries have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-oxidant effects.
I enjoy them in both of these:
I hope you’ll want to try some of these recipes to get more quercetin in your diet.
One last word about quercetin in food.
Because quercetin is found in plants, you may have to take special considerations if you have Salicylate Intolerance.
For any foods you find that are high in quercetin, just cross reference them with this list of low and high salicylate foods: Salicylates and Salicylate Foods
So, you may be wondering, if you can get your quercetin through foods with dietary flavonoids, why would you consider supplementing with quercetin?
Keep reading to find out why.
The Best Quercetin Supplements for Histamine Intolerance and MCAS
It’s important you know that this blog post is for informational and educational purposes. It’s not meant to treat any health condition or to be prescriptive for anyone. If you have any medical condition, it is critical you work under the care and guidance of a licensed medical provider.
You may want to consider quercetin supplements if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
Most people with MCAS find they need a lot more support than can be found in normal serving sizes of foods alone.
Researchers are seeing that now foods we get at the grocery stores don’t have the same levels of nutrients as they once did.
This may be due to several factors.
Some examples include longer transit times and poor soil quality.
Produce rapidly starts to lose nutrients after harvest.
Produce found in grocery stores can already be weeks old. So, produce found in most conventional grocery stores won’t have as much nutrient content by the time you get it.
And because produce is being grown in nutrient-depleted soil, those nutrients aren’t transferring to the plant.
Even people without chronic illnesses are finding they need to supplement to maintain optimal health.
When it comes to finding the best quercetin supplements, you’ll see a lot of choices if you look online. You’ll see them in gummy and capsule form as well as liposomal and chewable.
One thing you want to look out for are the other ingredients in the supplement you choose.
For example, it’s preferable to have a supplement that is:
- Soy free
- Gluten free
- Sugar free
And without any triggering fillers like:
- Titanium dioxide
- Artificial colors
Here are the best quercetin supplements we use in the Mast Cell 360 practice.
Integrative Therapeutics Alpha-Glycosyl Isoquercitrin
Alpha-glycosyl-isoquercitrin is 3x more bioavailable than isoquercitrin.
And it’s 17.5x more bioavailable than quercetin aglycone.
Bioavailable means that your body can use a lot of it efficiently.
One of the reasons I like this form is that you need less of it. And this helps it be better tolerated.
It’s often tolerated by people who didn’t tolerate other forms of quercetin supplements (and who didn’t have Salicylate Intolerance.)
Even so, anytime you start anything new, I suggest starting very slowly. If you are very sensitive, consider starting with just a sprinkle.
This form comes as a capsule. You can open the capsule and add just a light dusting in your water.
TIP: For the portion you don’t take right away, you can store it in any clean storage container until you are ready for your next dose. That way you aren’t wasting any.
It’s good to put a label on any container that has medications or supplements. You can write directly on the container or make a label.
If you aren’t as sensitive, you may be able to do about one capsule 30 minutes before meals. It can also be taken with food.
This supplement by Integrative Therapeutics comes in vegetarian capsules, not gelatin capsules.
You should also know that a very small number of people we’ve worked with have done better with the regular quercetin supplements.
Let’s look at that next.
Pure Encapsulations Quercetin
This supplement from Pure Encapsulations is another one of the best quercetin supplements.
This is the one you may want to consider if you are more sensitive and can’t tolerate the high potency isoquercitrin.
2 capsules contain 500 mg of quercetin. So even though this isn’t as bioavailable as the isoquercitrin, you’ll still get enough to get some mast cell benefits.
Some people have concerns about how well absorbed quercetin is since in isn’t highly water soluble.
And it’s true that some studies have shown that quercetin dihydrate is often absorbed better when taken with some kind of fat.
But studies have shown that fat didn’t influence the bioavailability of isoquercitrin.
You’ve read about many benefits of the best quercetin supplements for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
But some forms of quercetin supplements aren’t as well tolerated by those with MCAS or Histamine Intolerance.
You’ll read about those next.
But first, do you like to learn through watching or listening? Check out my presentation on Onboarding Quercetin when your Hypersensitive
Quercetin Supplements that are Harder to Onboard with MCAS or Histamine Intolerance
Everyone is different in what they can tolerate.
But I’ve seen more people have trouble with the following forms of quercetin supplements:
- Liposomal quercetin
- Quercetin with black pepper extract (piperine)
- Quercetin with citrus bioflavonoids
- Quercetin with ascorbic acid (fermentation product)
- Quercetin with bromelain (pineapple derived enzyme)
Here are a few other considerations to take before starting quercetin, too.
Who Should Not Take Quercetin Supplements
If you fall into one of these groups, quercetin supplements may not be right for you.
Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women
There isn’t a lot of research on pregnant or breastfeeding women using quercetin.
For this reason, you’ll want to talk to your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant before starting quercetin supplements.
If you have Salicylate Intolerance, quercetin supplements (and many foods with quercetin) are high salicylate.
This won’t be the right choice for you.
If you have Salicylate Intolerance, you may want to consider these non-bioflavonoid options instead:
You can learn more about other ways to support your mast cells in my Top 8 Mast Cell Supporting Supplements Master Class.
Quercetin and Medications
There are also some contraindications and potential side effects from quercetin supplements which may make it not right for you.
For example, quercetin may have an effect on certain antibiotics.
That’s just one example, though.
Quercetin supplements may not be right for you if you have certain conditions or are on certain medications.
That’s why it is so important to speak with your doctor who knows your health history and risk factors before adding quercetin or any other supplement to your protocol.
If you are struggling with mast cell reactions or Histamine Intolerance, quercetin may be worth considering.
But always talk with your healthcare provider whether it’s about the best quercetin supplement for you, or any other supplement.
More Histamine and Mast Cell Supporting Supplements
- Low Histamine Sources of Vitamin C
- All About Perilla Seed Extract
- Will Vitamin D help or hurt you if you have MCAS or Histamine Intolerance?
- Mast Cell and Histamine Safe Forms of Magnesium
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I find it surprising that you recommend that isoquercitrin, given that it contains excipients that are known mast cell triggers
Hi Anna, the specific form that Beth is recommending is Alpha-glycosyl-isoquercitrin, and the brand she is recommending does not have typical mast cell trigger excipients: https://us.fullscript.com/product_cards/73566/redirect?store_slug=mastcell360. Many of the Mast Cell 360 clients are extremely sensitive so Beth makes sure to find ones that work for the sensitive population. Of course not every supplement is right for everyone and we always recommend speaking with your healthcare provider before adding in anything new.
How about some of us who have a slow a COMT gene variant? Will this specific form of quercetin be safe to take? In other words most quercetin supplements contain flavonoids luteolin and rutin which inhibit a down regulated COMT
Hi Fred, this is a great question. Beth actually did a Facebook Live earlier this year about onboarding quercetin and addresses the COMT gene variant around minute 39:15: https://www.facebook.com/MastCell360/videos/2133659833484596
When researching Quercetin options for MCAS, NeuroProtek comes up quite a bit. Do you not recommend this product? If not, please explain why? Thanks so much!
Hi Meisha, NeuroProtek is not a product that we have evaluated for the use by those in our client population, so we are unable to comment on it at this time.
I do have 2 more questions please.
I do see you recommend Pure Encapsulations Zinc. But one of the ingredients is Ascorbyl Palmitate, which you list can be an issue for some with MCAS. Is this specific Ascorbyl Palmitate ok for most people in your practice?
I did complete the new patient forms to become a new patient awhile back, however I did not receive a confirmation that my information was received. Is there any way to contact your office to discuss if my information was received?
Thanks so much for your time!
Hi Meisha, most ascorbyl palmitate will be made through fermentation and therefore is higher histamine. Some will be able to tolerate it while others will not be able to. Since we are unfamiliar with your individual case we cannot say if that zinc will or will not work for you. I double checked our resources and this is the Zinc from Pure Encapsulations that we use in the clinic: https://us.fullscript.com/product_cards/71236/redirect?store_slug=mastcell360. It does not have ascorbyl palmitate in it.
I checked and we have received your application to become a client! Once it has been reviewed someone will be in touch with next steps. Review time can vary based on the number of applications in the queue. If you have further questions regarding the status of your application, you can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I do see now that I ordered the Pure Encapsulations Zinc 30mg and that does contain ascorbyl palmitate. I will reorder the Zinc 15mg.
Thanks so much! I appreciate it!
Is zinc sulfate safe for those with MCAS and HIT? I see a couple zinc options, but none contain zinc sulfate.
Thanks so much!