Last week I gave my latest webinar to answer questions on COVID-19.

If you want to see the replay, click here.

I also shared that I had tested positive for COVID-19 last week as well. Fortunately, my symptoms were limited to feelings similar to “jet lag” for a few days. I am 100% now!

Many people have asked me if I had a secret weapon. And, yes, I think I did. It was a special form of quercetin…

This natural compound is one of the hottest topics right now in the medical literature because of its potential in possibly neutralizing the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19. There is a high level of excitement based upon new research that I will share here. The caveat is that to achieve this possible benefit from quercetin there are some important considerations about the form and dosage.

Background Information

Quercetin is perhaps the most abundant and active member of a group of pigments found in plants known as flavonoids. Quercetin is found in many fruit, especially citrus, apples, and berries, green leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts, green tea and other medicinal plants, dark chocolate, and red wine.

Quercetin exerts considerable health benefits as an important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. Much of the recent research on quercetin has focused on its immune enhancing and antiviral aspects. It boosts white blood cell activity and mobilizes them to areas of infection. In human cell cultures quercetin has been shown to block the infectivity of a variety of viruses by inhibiting multiple processes in the virus life cycle. A human clinical trial in athletes showed these effects translated to quercetin reducing upper respiratory viral infections.

The excitement with quercetin as an answer to COVID-19 was initially the result of the possibility that quercetin may enhance the antiviral effects of ionic zinc. When zinc is unbound to other molecules, i.e., when it is in a free ionic state, it exerts significant action in blocking viruses from replicating. It does this action by inhibiting an enzyme produced by the virus known as replicase. This enzyme is what a virus uses in order to reproduce itself within human cells. Quercetin acts as what is known as a zinc ionophore by basically creating a channel that allows free ionic zinc to enter the infected cell and block viral replication.

The science on quercetin’s anti-coronaviral activity has evolved further showing additional specific actions useful against SARS-CoV-2.

 

New Information:

In an excellent review titled “A role for quercetin in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19)” a group of Italian researchers make a very strong case for quercetin’s potential benefits in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Considerable attention was devoted to the multiple target sites of quercetin against SARS‐CoV‐2. Specifically, how quercetin is able to neutralize this coronavirus through detailed molecular docking studies and cell culture experiments.

One of the key aspects of the infectivity of SARS‐CoV‐2 is the presence of specialized proteins that allow it to bind to and then penetrate host cells to cause infection. If you have seen the illustration of what SARS‐CoV‐2 looks like you know that it is characterized structurally by the presence of “spikes.” These spikes contain proteins that attach themselves to a type of receptor on the surface of human cells called an ACE-2 receptor. This site acts as a doorway to infection with this virus.

Quercetin exerts significant inhibition on the binding of specific spike proteins to ACE-2 receptors, thereby blocking the ability of the virus to infect human cells. Quercetin has also been shown to directly neutralize viral proteins the are critical in the replication of SARS‐CoV‐2. It exerts multiple sites of inhibition of the virus.

The authors concluded that based upon the current data, quercetin is one of the most promising antiviral compounds capable of interfering the ability of SARS‐CoV‐2 to infect cells as well as its replication.

 

Commentary:

These preliminary findings need to be tested in clinical studies. Currently there are three clinical trials underway in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. However, my concern is these studies may not show much benefit because they may not be using a sufficient dosage of quercetin to reach the required tissue levels for quercetin to exert its antiviral effects.

In order to reproduce the antiviral effects of quercetin based on cell culture and molecular docking studies, it requires achieving tissue levels equal to those shown to produce these effects. In other words, the dosage of quercetin given must be able to raise the level of quercetin in body tissues so that it can effectively block the virus.

And here is where things get tricky. Regular quercetin is not absorbed very well and there is a high degree of variability from one person to the next. So, iit is best to use special forms of quercetin that show enhanced absorption and reduced variability. There are three products available on the market that have these characteristics:

  • EMIQ (enzymatically modified isoquercitrin) attaches glucose chains to the quercetin molecule.
  • Quercetin Phytosome® binds quercetin to sunflower lecithin.
  • Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™ provides quercetin in a micro-emulsified form.

Of these advanced forms, the one that I personally used with my short battle with COVID-19 was the Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™. So, let me explain what it is and why it is special.

Many supplement users are familiar with liposomes to enhance the absorption of nutritional compounds. Liposomes are also used in skin care products. Micelles are similar to liposomes, but hold in their center types of molecules that are exactly opposite to what are held in liposomes. Let me explain, both liposomes and micelles are composed of fats that have a water-loving “head” and a fat-loving “tail.” With a liposome the tails of the fatty molecules loosely bind to form two layers of fat that protect an inner compartment of the water-loving head that can hold water and water-soluble active ingredients, such as vitamin C.

A micelle is a little different in that it contains only a single layer of fat and is just the opposite of a liposome in that it is “inside-out” because the water-loving head of the fat is on the outside of the micelle and the fat-loving tail is on the inside. Quercetin cannot be made into a liposome because it is not water-loving, quercetin is a fat-loving molecule. So, it is perfect for a micelle. Through the LipoMicel Matrix™ process, the quercetin is held in place within the center of a micelle matrix through proprietary technology. This technology solves the problem of the poor absorption and solubility of quercetin.  

These micelles that form the Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™ are very small. So small, in fact, that if you squeezed the contents of a soft-gel containing Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™into a glass of water it would easily mix in appearing completely water-soluble. The quercetin is in a micro-emulsion. It is quite an impressive technology.

Preliminary absorption studies indicate that the quercetin in the Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™ is absorbed up to 10 times better than regular quercetin. My dosage recommendation as part of a nutritional supplement program to support immune function is 250 mg twice daily.

During COVID-19, a much higher dosage is required to produce the concentration of quercetin necessary to possibly neutralize the virus. My recommendation is that as soon as any symptom suggestive of COVID-19 appears or a positive test is obtained, immediately start taking four 250 mg capsules of Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™ three times daily. Take them four hours apart and continue at this dosage for 10 days. And because vitamin C works so synergistically with quercetin, be sure to take 500 to 1,000 of vitamin C three times a day as well.

For children that can swallow pills, the dosage can be cut in half. For those that can’t, same dosage but empty out the contents of the soft gel into any soft food (e.g., applesauce works great).

Quercetin is very safe, and no side effects have been reported (or are expected even when using these higher dosages). However, quercetin may increase the absorption of some drugs, including chemotherapy agents and high blood pressure medications. If you are taking any drugs in these classes, the dosage may have to be lowered to avoid side effects or toxicity.

Be well,
     Dr. Michael Murray

Key References:

  • Derosa G, Maffioli P, D’Angelo A, Di Pierro F. A role for quercetin in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Phytother Res. 2020 Oct 9:10.1002/ptr.6887.
  • Rehman MT, AlAjmi MF, Hussain A. Natural Compounds as Inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease (3CLpro): A Molecular Docking and Simulation Approach to Combat COVID-19. Curr Pharm Des. 2020 Nov 16.
  • Pan B, Fang S, Zhang J, Pan Y, Liu H, Wang Y, Li M, Liu L. Chinese herbal compounds against SARS-CoV-2: Puerarin and quercetin impair the binding of viral S-protein to ACE2 receptor. Comput Struct Biotechnol J. 2020;18:3518-3527.
  • Colunga Biancatelli RML, Berrill M, Catravas JD, Marik PE. Quercetin and Vitamin C: An Experimental, Synergistic Therapy for the Prevention and Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 Related Disease (COVID-19). Front Immunol. 2020 Jun 19;11:1451.
Share This

Featured Articles