New research funded by the U.S. Department of Defense indicated that supplementation with the plant-based flavonoid antioxidant quercetin could support reduced viral infections and maintain cognitive function in individuals subjected to extreme physical stress.
"These are ground-breaking results, because this is the first clinical, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study that has found a natural plant compound to prevent viral illness," states Dr. David Nieman, a professor at North Carolina's Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, where the study was conducted. Next? A study of quercetin's benefits in people undergoing “everyday mental stress.”
Following is an early account of the study findings, reproduced with permission from the University’s newspaper – The Appalachian.
Professor Leads Study on Plant Substance Quercetin
By Aubrey Resech
February 15, 2007
An Appalachian State University professor presented his research results last week on a plant substance and its beneficial properties to the southeastern regional meeting of The American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. David C. Nieman, PhD, a professor in the Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science, presented his study focused on the plant substance quercetin.
Quercetin is a natural and powerful antioxidant that can be found in red grapes, red wine, red apples, green tea, and broccoli. Quercetin is found in the red color of fruits, Nieman said.
Nieman began his research on quercetin in 2005, after the U.S. Department of Defense’s high-risk research and development organization awarded the university $1.1 million. The Department of Defense funded the study with the hopes that researchers would find a way to help preserve the immune systems of soldiers, who undergo the intense and stressful conditions of combat.
The results of the study conveyed that quercetin does indeed contain properties that help decrease illness and maintain cognitive performance in physically stressed subjects.
“It was also found that quercetin reduces inflammation, prevents cancer and heart disease, influences the function of the immune system, and fights pathogens,” Nieman said. He was part of a team of biologists, exercise scientists, psychologists, and nutritionists who executed the study.
Dr. Chuck L. Dumke, associate professor in the Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science, also participated in the study. “I worked on trying to get measures of cycling performance as a result of the quercetin supplementation,” Dumke said. “I also did many of the muscle biopsies for the study, which was before and after the first and third day. From this muscle, I analyzed the amounts of stored carbohydrate, or muscle glycogen.”
The test subjects included 50 cyclists from Appalachian and the Boone [North Carolina] area, Nieman said. The subjects were divided into two groups. One group was given 1,000 milligrams of quercetin every day for five weeks. The other group was given a placebo.
The physical stress component came into play during the third week of the study when all subjects had to ride a bicycle for three hours a day, for three successive days. Changes in blood and tissue were examined in test subjects to determine whether or not any psychological changes had occurred.
Approximately 45 percent of the group taking the placebo expressed effects of illness after the three-day exercise period. However, only 5 percent of those in the group actually taking the quercetin supplement revealed any signs of illness.
Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, illness, or condition. It is very important that you make no change in your health support regimen without first researching and discussing it in consultation with your professional healthcare team.