4 Promising Benefits Of Quercetin For Alcoholism

Shruti Baikerikar

(B.E. Biotechnology, PG Clinical Research)
Independent Researcher, Health Writer & Founder of Salubrainous [Full Bio]

quercetin for alcoholism

Name: Quercetin
Goes well with: Green tea catechins, Resveratrol, Curcumin, Piperine
Number of scientific references: 30
Level of Evidence: Level I What is this?

Note: Pre-clinical studies demonstrate that quercetin can help in alcohol withdrawal. It is a natural antioxidant and hence can aid in protecting from alcohol induced oxidative stress. However, these findings need to corroborated with human studies.

Most of us are not disciplined when it comes to our food choices; in the sense that we may be focused on the macronutrient composition of our diet but not on the micronutrient content.

Our attention on micronutrients is heightened only in case of deficiency. Dietary antioxidants are frequently ignored although they are essential elements for awesome health.

Chronic alcohol consumption contributes to oxidative stress in the body. It leads to the production of excess free radical species which cause tissue damage and lowered antioxidant enzyme levels cannot counteract them.

A study published in Alcohol 2013 examined the effect of alcohol consumption on antioxidant status of young individuals. Individuals of the age group 18-23 years were enrolled in the study.

Their average alcohol intake was 118g per week. The antioxidant status of these individuals was compared to that of non-drinkers.

No clinical symptoms of liver damage or differences in body weight or blood-related parameters were observed in both groups. However, alcohol dehydrogenase activity, lipid peroxidation (indicative of oxidative damage) and percentage of damaged DNA cells were higher in those who consumed alcohol.

Researchers stated that damaged antioxidant status related parameters could be observed at early stages of alcohol abuse (4-5 years of alcohol drinking history).

The inclusion of antioxidants in diet can help ameliorate the oxidative damage caused by excess alcohol consumption and can speed up systemic recovery during abstinence.

Recently while I covered the benefits of quercetin for neuropathy and alcohol-induced neuropathy, I stumbled upon an interesting piece published by the researcher that highlighted the utility of this plant flavonol in alcohol abuse disorders.

Quercetin is a natural antioxidant, and it benefits in alcoholism by treating the oxidative stress caused by excess alcohol consumption. Also, it helps in protecting nerve health, metabolic health and liver health from the deleterious effects of alcohol abuse.

Let’s get to know more about this plant flavonol.

What is Quercetin?

Quercetin is a flavonoid or antioxidant present in fruits and vegetables. Some good dietary sources of the antioxidant include apples, onions, berries, grapes, tea, Brassica vegetables, tomatoes, nuts, seeds etc.

Quercetin is the term used for the structure that has no sugar molecule attached to it while quercetin glycosides have a sugar group attached to it. It is insoluble in cold water and poorly soluble in hot water but fairly soluble in fats and alcohol.

Attachment of sugar molecule changes its solubility and absorption. Research has found that this antioxidant has multiple pharmacological properties such as anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, ergogenic etc.

Suggested Quercetin Supplements For Alcoholism

Please consult a health practitioner before taking any health supplement.

There is a little concern about the bioavailability of quercetin supplements. To improve the absorption, you can take it after a meal containing dietary fat.

Quercetin dihydrate is said to have the best absorption but onion peel extract is found to be better in some studies. Please consider consuming onion peel powder with meals.

Here are a few quercetin supplements that users have found beneficial for general health. Most quercetin supplements contain bromelain to improve its absorption; avoid bromelain if you have blood thinning issues.

Thorne Research Quercetin Phytosome Doctor’s Best Quercetin Bromelain Bluebonnet SuperQuercetin
quercetin supplement1

Image Credit: Thorne Research, Inc.

quercetin supplement 2

Image Credit: Doctors Best

quercetin supplement3

Image Credit: Bluebonnet Nutrition

Provides 250mg quercetin phytosome per veg capsule Provides 500mg quercetin dihydrate and 250mg bromelain Provides 500mg quercetin with vitamin C, bromelain and citrus bioflavonoid complex

Buy from Amazon

Buy from iHerb

Buy from Amazon

Buy from iHerb

Buy from Amazon

Buy from iHerb

4 Promising Benefits Of Quercetin For Alcoholism

Here are a few research studies that have explored the efficacy of quercetin in alcohol abuse disorders and related conditions.

1.Quercetin protects from oxidative stress due to excess alcohol consumption

Free radicals are present in our body and are required for executing various biochemical reactions. But exposure to excess alcohol generates high levels of free radical species which in turn target the fats present in the cell membrane to produce ‘lipid peroxides’.

The presence of lipid peroxides indicates tissue damage. One such important lipid peroxide that is studied as a marker of oxidative stress is malondialdehyde.

Fucile et al. have observed that malondialdehyde levels are high in patients with alcohol dependence and three weeks of detoxification therapy does not lower these levels. This indicates that chronic alcohol consumption impairs an individual’s ability to counteract the free radical species.

Oxidative stress caused by chronic alcohol intake can cause liver damage, DNA damage, impair heart and lung health and increase the risk of developing infections.

A study published in Molecular Biology Reports, 2012 reveals that quercetin can help in ameliorating oxidative stress caused by chronic alcohol consumption.

In this animal study, it was observed that quercetin lowered oxidative stress markers, increased antioxidant enzymes and reduced inflammatory markers each of which had been impaired by chronic alcohol intake.

Heme oxygenase-1 is a stress response enzyme that protects cells from toxic products of oxidative stress. Quercetin is proven to induce heme oxygenase-1 activity to protect liver cells from alcohol-induced oxidative stress.

Mitochondria are powerhouse units of our cells, and oxidative stress may cause them to dysfunction. Research suggests that quercetin prevents and reduces alcohol-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and protects cellular antioxidant defences.

Quick Gist: Alcohol dependence creates a state of oxidative stress and impairs the body’s natural antioxidant defences.

Preliminary studies demonstrate that quercetin prevents and reduces such alcohol-induced oxidative damage; it increases the level of antioxidant enzymes, lowers inflammation and eliminates toxic products of oxidative damage.

2.It protects liver health from adverse effects of alcohol consumption

The liver is one of the major organs that are susceptible to damage by reactive oxygen species. Increase oxidative stress in the liver can induce inflammation and cause cell death in the liver tissue. This in turn can impair fat metabolism, DNA contents and affect the activity of various biological pathways.

Oxidative stress plays a major role in the development of the alcoholic liver disease.

A study published in Pharmacognosy Magazine, 2010 demonstrated that quercetin aids in the protection of liver injury caused by alcohol. It interacts with various biochemical pathways and molecules to offer this protective mechanism.

Primarily it reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation and boosts antioxidant enzyme levels to strengthen liver health.

Vidhya et al., via their animal study, found that quercetin administration is more effective than alcohol abstinence in speeding up recovery from alcohol-induced liver damage and toxicity.

It may even prevent alcohol-induced liver fibrosis. Researchers look forward to it as a natural drug for prevention and treatment of alcoholic liver disease.

Quick Gist: Alcohol dependence or long-term alcohol intake paves the way for alcoholic liver disease in some cases. Constant oxidative stress impairs liver health and damages liver tissue. Quercetin is a proven hepatoprotective agent that can aid in protecting from and reversing alcohol-induced liver damage.

3.Quercetin may help reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms

The interest for utilising quercetin to treat alcohol abuse disorder arose from the study published in Journal of Medicinal Food, 2005.

A group of researchers from Panjab University, India conducted an animal study to investigate the benefits of quercetin for alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Daily administration of quercetin for six days before alcohol cessation prevented alcohol withdrawal-induced anxiety. Interestingly a single dose of the antioxidant after alcohol withdrawal did not prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Pre-treatment with the plant antioxidant also prevented impairment of movement or locomotor activity caused by alcohol withdrawal.

It was also observed that chronic and acute treatment with the antioxidant offered significant protection from alcohol withdrawal associated convulsions. Researchers stated that quercetin could be a safe therapeutic agent for preventing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

The onion based antioxidant acts via many different pathways to relieve anxiety, stress and depression. Certain conventional antidepressants belong to a class called Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors which prevent the breakdown of neurotransmitters and support their efficient utilisation in the brain (that is one theory that is used to treat depressive symptoms with medicine).

Dixon Clarke and Ramsay have reported that quercetin is a natural monoamine oxidase inhibitor and dietary sources of this antioxidant may modestly prevent neurotransmitter breakdown and influence mood and brain health.

It is even proven to reduce stress-induced anxiety by exerting an antioxidant and neuroprotective effect. Alone or in combination with piperine, it can counteract neuroinflammation or inflammation in the brain to mediate an anti-depressant effect.

Experimental studies suggest that it may even protect memory and cognition from stress-induced impairment.

Quick Gist: Quercetin has anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties which it mediates by bolstering antioxidant defences, reducing inflammation and influencing neurotransmitter systems. An animal study has demonstrated that the antioxidant can protect from alcohol withdrawal-induced anxiety and convulsions.

These findings are promising but need to be further investigated with the help of human studies.

4.It can relieve alcohol-induced neuropathy

The onion based antioxidant has various roles that are relevant to nerve health. Two major therapeutic actions of this flavonoid are neuroprotection and antioxidant.

Chronic alcohol consumption produces painful peripheral neuropathy with symptoms such as burning pain, heightened pain response and pain sensitivity. Apart from oxidative stress caused by alcohol, alcohol works as a neurotoxic agent and activates immune cells and certain receptors that transmit the pain.

Also, excess alcohol consumption creates a vitamin B deficiency (mostly vitamin B1) which worsens nerve damage. B vitamins supplementation benefits in treating neuropathy.

Alcohol abstinence and a diet supplemented with B vitamins help in treating alcohol-induced neuropathy; but in case of ongoing alcohol use, vitamin use alone does not benefit patients.

Raygude et al. have proven that quercetin benefits in alcohol-induced neuropathy. In their animal model of neuropathy, they observed that chronic treatment with the antioxidant reduced allodynia (pain response to a stimulus that would not cause pain in normal individuals) and hyperalgesia or heightened pain response.

It improved movement and reduced impairment of physiological parameters of the nerve (such as the ability to conduct electric impulses). It reduced inflammation and DNA damage.

It proved to be better than vitamin E in ameliorating alcohol-induced neuropathy thus suggesting that quercetin indeed is an effective antioxidant for reducing oxidative stress caused by alcoholism.

A recent study published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 2017 reported that it reduces inflammation and relieves neuropathic pain by inhibiting certain biochemical pathways that are involved in nerve degeneration.

Quick Gist: Quercetin is a neuroprotective agent and benefits in nerve health in multiple ways. Experimental studies suggest that it can benefit in alcohol-induced neuropathy by relieving nerve pain and protecting from nerve damage.

How To Improve Bioavailability of Quercetin?

Quercetin has low bioavailability due to reduced absorption, ample metabolic conversion and rapid excretion. The approximate absorption of quercetin ranges from 3-17% for 100mg quercetin glycoside in healthy individuals.

I have addressed the bioavailability concerns in detail in my post 7 Proven Benefits Of Quercetin For Neuropathy, but here are few important points about it:

  • Its absorption can be improved if taken with fats and fruit juices.
  • Its bioavailability can be improved by pairing it with other antioxidants such as piperine, curcumin, vitamin C etc.
  • Dietary quercetin is better absorbed than supplements.
  • Onion peel powder is a good source of quercetin.
  • Quercetin extracted from onion peel powder is more bioavailable than quercetin dihydrate.
  • The glycoside form is more bioavailable than the dihydrate form.

Dosage of Quercetin For Alcoholism

The research findings on quercetin’s use for alcohol addiction are limited to animal studies. There is no prescribed dose of quercetin for alcoholism. The suggested dose of quercetin glycosides is 500-1000mg per day. Doses higher than 1000mg are not recommended.

In research studies, quercetin glycosides have been used in a dose range of 3mg/day -1000mg/day.

If you are using a supplement prepared from onion peel extract powder the dose is 150-200mg per day.

You should include dietary sources of quercetin in your meals. I would suggest onion powder consumption with a little black pepper daily. Here is a good recipe to make onion powder at home.

A few considerations to keep in mind while taking quercetin:

  • Take quercetin supplements after meals for better absorption.
  • If consuming quercetin powder take it with juices or with healthy fats (olive or coconut oil) or after meals rich in dietary fats.
  • When taking quercetin supplements/ powder, it is recommended not to take them for more than 3 months at a stretch. Take a break from its supplementation and you can still consume dietary quercetin.

Precautions with Quercetin Use

Quercetin in the diet is safe. High dose may cause gastric side effects such as nausea and stomach upset and in some cases may even cause a headache.

Doses higher than 1g may cause kidney toxicity. Do not take the supplements continuously for more than three months.

Chronic consumption of quercetin glycosides may cause drug interactions. Please maintain a 3-4 hour gap between taking it and any medication.

It may interact with certain medications: antibiotics, felodipine, quinolones, cisplatin, doxorubicin, digoxin, cyclosporine, corticosteroids and blood thinners.

It has anti-platelet activity; please take with caution in case of bleeding disorders or if using blood thinners.

Safety of quercetin supplementation has not been assessed in case of pregnancy and lactation.

Please consult a health practitioner before taking quercetin supplements.

Conclusion

Quercetin aids in alcoholism as an antioxidant; it protects nerve health, liver health and all other organs from oxidative stress caused by excess alcohol intake. Research has also found that it may help in relieving alcohol withdrawal symptoms and protect memory and cognition.

But these findings are limited to animal studies; there is a need for further research in the form of human studies to confirm the effectiveness of this plant-based antioxidant in alcohol addiction.

Addition of antioxidants to diet is recommended during ongoing use of alcohol or during early stages of alcohol withdrawal. You could use quercetin supplements or powder in such a case.

You could even add onion powder to your diet when detoxifying from the adverse effects of alcohol.

If you have used quercetin supplements for detoxing from alcohol; do leave your comments below. And this article has helped you in some way, don’t forget to share it.

Know the proven benefits and dosage of quercetin for alcohol addiction.

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