Quercetin’s connection to COVID-19

       Quercetin is one of thousands of bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are plant pigments that give fruits, vegetables and flowers their color. These compounds have been shown to act as anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants in the body.  Quercetin has been found to be the most active of the bioflavonoids (AKA polyphenols).  

       As an anti-inflammatory, quercetin has been shown to inhibit the beginning stages of inflammation in the body. Quercetin also inhibits the manufacture and release of histamines. Histamines are compounds released by the immune system in response to allergens. Allergens are anything the body becomes highly sensitive too.  The immune system treats allergens as a threat to the body and responds in a number of ways including the release of histamines which cause such discomforts as a runny nose, cough and itching eyes.

       While people often use antihistamine medications to relieve the symptoms of histamine production by the immune system, quercetin has been shown to be an effective alternative to such medications.

       Research has shown quercetin to be beneficial to diabetics in that it helps prevent diabetic induced cataracts and retinopathy as well as enhancing insulin secretion for better blood sugar control.

       Quercetin has shown antiviral activity in the treatment of herpes, influenza, polio and various respiratory viruses.  Recent studies in South Korea and China have revealed that quercetin appears effective in inhibiting replication of the virus SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). This virus is a member of a large family of viruses named for the crown-like spikes on their outer surface called spike proteins. The name corona means crown in Latin.

       SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 is actually the name of the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 and not the name of the virus.  “CO” stands for corona, “VI” for virus, “D” for disease and “19” for 2019. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) announced SARS-CoV-2 as the name of the virus causing COVID- 19 in February of 2020.  This name was chosen because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS-Cov-1 outbreak of 2003.  

       SARS-CoV-2 uses the genetic material RNA (ribonucleic acid) to make and replicate itself.  RNA viruses are very resilient, replicate easily and have high rates of mutation. RNA viruses replicate in the cytoplasm of the cell. Cytoplasm is a gel-like fluid inside the cell membrane where various chemical reactions occur. Coronavirus spike proteins can easily penetrate healthy cells.  This is where quercetin comes into the picture.  

       Quercetin can help to inhibit replication of SARS-CoV-2.  How does it do this?  Quercetin is an ionophore of the trace mineral zinc. An ionophore is an ion carrier. It is a molecule that facilitates the movement of ions (electronically charged minerals) in and out of cell membranes. The mineral zinc, in its ionic state, is carried into the cell by an ionophore.  Quercetin has been shown to be a strong carrier (ionophore) of zinc into the cell and thus increases intracellular zinc (inside the cell) concentrations.

       Zinc is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body. It is found in all body tissues with 85% in muscle and bone. Eleven percent is found in the skin and the liver and the remaining 4% is found in all other body tissues.  

       Zinc is known for its antiviral effects. Remedies containing zinc have been shown to reduce the duration and symptoms of the common cold including colds caused by corona viruses. There are numerous ways zinc acts to thwart viruses in the body including inhibiting the synthesis and binding of RNA and inhibiting the replication of RNA viruses. This being the case, it becomes important that the mineral zinc is adequately passed into our cells so it can facilitate protection against viral activity.

       While quercetin can enhance general anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant protection in the body and inhibit the immune systems production of histamines, it also acts as an antiviral by its ability to facilitate zinc absorption. 

       This being the case, it may be wise to add both zinc and quercetin to your supplement regimen.  At Milk ‘N Honey, we carry several brands and potencies of zinc and the bioflavonoid quercetin.