Tag Archives: quercetin

Luteolin & Quercetin

I still get frustrated at the lack of information on the histamine content in foods.  There is barely any research on the subject and I have no idea what information most of the low histamine food lists is based on (my own included).  I found the same when trying to research anti-inflammatory foods.

After listening to Dr Theo’s talk yesterday, and the fact that luteolin and quercetin are mast cell stabilizing compounds, I looked up “high flavanoid foods” and again found very little.  After Googling til my fingers bled, however, I came across this site from the US Department of Agriculture which pools loads of small research studies and lists the information in a table.  Hurrahhh!  I then spent most of the day analysing the data and came up with a list of the highest sources of both luteolin and quercetin from the foods listed (please note, the following table is not exhaustive and there may be other really good sources which aren’t included as they haven’t been involved in research trials).

The top 5 food sources containing both luteolin and quercetin from the data are:

  1. Dried oregano (fresh isn’t half as potent)
  2. Juniper berries
  3. Raw radicchio
  4. Yellow hot chilli peppers
  5. Green hot chilli peppers

The amount of luteolin in dried oregano is staggering: 1028 per 100 mg, the highest source by a mile.  The luteolin in juniper berries is 69 per 100mg, so you can see the difference.  From the data, it appears luteolin is only found in high quantities in a small number of foods, unlike quercetin which is much more readily available.

The top 5 luteolin food sources are:

  1. Dried oregano
  2. Celery seed
  3. Juniper berries
  4. Fresh thyme
  5. Radicchio and chinese celery

The fact that dried oregano is much higher in luteolin than fresh is surprising, as you always think fresh is best.  Celery seed, as against fresh celery, was also interesting.  I then wondered how to incorporate more celery seed into my meals and thought celery salt was worth a try – commercially it’s made up of crushed celery seeds mixed with normal salt, or you can make your own by crushing the seeds and adding them to twice their quantity of regular salt.  Fresh juniper berries are fairly hard to come by here in the UK, but you can get dried – there’s some information on how to use them on the BBC food website.  I haven’t come across chinese celery before, and think it will only be available from Asian grocers here, but obviously radicchio is widely available.

The top 5 quercetin food sources are:

  1. Raw capers
  2. Tinned capers and raw lovage leaves
  3. Elderberry juice concentrate
  4. Raw dock leaves
  5. Raw raddish leaves, wild rocket (arugula), fresh dill weed, fresh coriander (cilantro), fresh fennel bulb (all being much of a muchness)

Eugh, I hate capers so am disappointed they’re both no.1 and no.2 on the list!  Lovage, however, is something easily incorporated into meals, particularly sandwiches and salads.  I was happy to see elderberries at no.3, as I drink Belvoir concentrated elderflower cordial and it’s gorgeous.  Dock leaves are only ever something I fed my rabbit as a kid 😉 .  The herbs and salad vegetables listed at no.5 are all easily added to meals.

There were a few high food sources of quercetin I didn’t include in my table, as I’d never heard of them but my overseas readers might have access to them so I’d recommend you take a look at the original list – all 146 pages of it 😉 .

Here is the table of all the high luteolin and quercetin foods I extracted.  The first group lists foods high in both luteolin and quercetin.  The next group lists foods only high in quercetin and the last group lists foods only high in luteolin.  I only extracted foods which had more than 10 mg/100 of flavanoid.

luteolin quercetin table

I was surprised to see that carob flour was much higher in quercetin that regular cocoa powder (which didn’t even make the list) and I need no more excuse to make more carob chip cookies 😉  Also a surprise was how relatively low down the list kale was, as it’s widely touted online to be an excellent source of quercetin.  Ditto with the “superfood” chia seeds.


Talk by Dr Theoharides

Dr Theoharides is one of the leading mast cell experts in the world, and my Canary post was written based on his years of research.  This week, he was asked to give a talk to EDS Awareness on mast cell disease and a Youtube video is now available of this talk and associated slides.

Having listened to the lecture I didn’t really learn anything new that wasn’t in his 2013 video presentation, although I was excited to discover that a new, more potent, mast cell stabilizing supplement containing Luteolin will hopefully be on the market in the Autumn along with a cream for topical application called GentleDerm.

I was, however, very surprised to discover the extent of mast cell disease in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  1 in 3000 people in the general population have EDS.  1 in 2000 people in the general population have mast cell disease.  But, of those people with EDS 1 in 10 will also have mast cell disease.  That’s much, much higher than I’d imaged!  When asked why this might be, Dr Theo really had no idea and agreed research is needed.

Another thing learned from the talk, and which joined some dots for me, was about ligament laxity.  I’ve had a couple of people comment on my blog that when they were treated for MCAD their hypermobility/ligament laxity improved.  This didn’t seem feasible, as EDS isn’t curable, but it seems we were both right.  Mast cell activation causes ligament laxity, so if you don’t have Ehlers-Danlos then treating your mast cell disease should improve this symptom.  However, it will not treat the ligament laxity seen in EDS which is caused by faulty genes and if you have MCAD on top of your EDS it may make your existing ligament laxity worse.

Dr Theo also touches on co-morbid conditions in mast cell disease, of which ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease all feature – no surprise there.  However, he emphasises that ME/CFS, Fibro and Lyme aren’t caused by mast cell disease as they are all separate conditions in their own right, they are just seen much more in MCAD patients than the general population for reasons as yet unknown.

Dr Theo talked extensively about treatment options.  The drugs we currently have available treat the symptoms of MCAD, not the underlying disease process.  I was surprised to hear that Sodium Chromoglycate (Gastrocrom) only partially inhibits mast cell activation and recent research has shown it’s ineffective in most cases of mast cell disease, although some people still find it very useful in their treatment armoury.  He also talked of a drug called Rupatadine, which partially blocks mast cells, histamine and eosinophils (often associated with reflux) however it is not available in the USA and was withdrawn from the UK in March this year :-/

The only current option to totally block mast cell activation is from flavanoids, but you have to be very selective which flavanoids you use.  Luteolin and Quercetin are thought to be the best, and the ingredients used by Dr Theo in his NeuroProtek supplements.  Having had many anaphylactic reactions to supplements of all varieties I’m too chicken to try these capsules, so I aim to eat luteolin and quercetin rich foods instead even though I know they’re not in sufficient quantities as to make a huge difference.  I’m delving more into food sources of luteolin and quercetin in my next post with some very interesting findings!

Side note: There is an interview on YouTube with two mast cell disease patients, which outlines much of the information in Dr Theo’s lecture but in a simpler way.  Click here to watch.

To eat or not to eat?

UPDATE 15 OCTOBER 2016:  This page has obviously been shared on social media and has recently received a lot of visitors.  I just wanted to say that the original post was written 2 years ago and in that time a lot has changed, so I have now updated the content to reflect my current knowledge.  In particular I’ve discovered that no fruit and hardly any veg has been tested for its histamine content, so I now feel very differently about eating them.  Please see the Low Histamine Food Info menu at the top of the site for more up to date information on histamine in foods, in particular the ‘Histamine & Food: the Evidence’ tab.


Following on from my last blog post, I thought I’d share with you some of my struggles with Allowed and Excluded foods on a low histamine diet.  As I’ve already pointed out in various articles on my blog, there is no consensus on histamine containing/liberating foods, as the research simply hasn’t been done yet.  That doesn’t stop some people posting on my blog that this list or that list is the definitive low histamine food list, or that this app or that app tells me all I need to know about histamine in foods, though they never have the research to back these claims up.  The whole area is such a mine field, and when I first began to delve in to the world of histamine the stress and conflicting opinions gave me a whopping headache!

In the end, I decided to just have a go at a (supposedly) low histamine diet I thought I could stick to and see what happened.  I ditched foods that I used to eat a lot of, like strawberries, Cheddar cheese, aubergienes, items containing vinegar (particularly sauces and dressings), tomatoes, tinned tuna fish, chocolate, yeast (how I missed proper bread!), orange and pineapple juice and yoghurt.  Through trial and error I discovered I also react to bananas and cashew nuts, though am currently tolerating macadamia nuts (similar to cashews) ok.

Three years down the line and having throughly research histamine in foods I’ve now re-introduced several items I originally excluded,such as baker’s yeast and berries, and am doing fine on a less restricted diet.  The following are items I eat regularly, the inclusion of which on a low histamine diet causes confusion for some people who read my blog:

1. Berries

Most low histamine lists exclude berries, particularly strawberries, as they are supposed to be histamine liberators.  There is no such thing as a histamine liberator – it is impossible to measure liberation of histamine from mast cells after food consumption and, even if it were, no-one has done it as far as I’m aware.  I’ve no idea where the myth of ‘histamine liberating foods’ has come from but it’s not based on any kind of fact.  Blueberries and blackberries are high flavonoid foods, and flavanoids contain Quercetin.  Quercetin is a mast cell stabilizer so I eat blueberries and blackberries (picked straight from the bush in my garden).

2. Pomegranates & other fruits

Again, many low histamine lists exclude pomegranates as being a histamine liberating food (of which there is no such thing).   This study from 2009 shows that pomegranate extract may inhibit mast cell activation due to its role as an anti-inflammatory.  Ergo, I eat pomegranates and drink POM juice (although with all juices, even those I juice myself, I dilute with water or milk so as not to have a massive sugar rush which puts strain on insulin levels in the body).  There has been no research done on the histamine content of fruit as far as I can find,  so I eat most fruits as they are so good for you, with the exception of dried fruit (there is evidence to suggest aged foods are high in histamine).  I also react to bananas (for reasons unknown) and apples (as a cross reaction to my birch pollen allergy, nothing to do with histamine!) so they’re now also off my list.

3. Citrus fruits

All low histamine diets advocate excluding citrus fruits as they are touted to be histamine liberators, however as mentioned above there is no such thing as a “histamine liberating food” so  I include small amounts of lemon juice in my recipes because without lemon juice most sauces and jams would be un-makeable and I personally just can’t live on a dry diet.

4. Quorn & Mushrooms

As I stated in my previous blog post, the fungi family are a bone of contention on a low histamine diet.  Some lists say they’re high histamine, though I haven’t yet found the research to back this up (please share if you have!).  The only research I could find on mushrooms was by Barcelona-based nutritionist Adriana Duelo whose work is regularly submitted to the SPANISH SOCIETY OF DAO DEFICIENCY , however there was no information on how the research was carried out or the testing methods used.  Her figures showed that mushrooms contain from zero to 1.8mg/kg of histamine which is less than that of swiss chard or rice, however I’ve no idea how accurate this data is.  I include mushrooms in my diet because they are incredibly versatile, quick, easy, I love them and have never reacted to them.

I include Quorn in my diet because it’s a useful, extremely versatile, high protein vegetarian food that I happen to really like.  And without tinned tuna, yoghurt and hard cheeses, which I used to eat daily, I do worry that I’m not eating enough easily digestible proteins, bearing in mind I have M.E. and without going into technical details my muscles are faulty and I strive to eat protein as a way of helping my muscles to function.  I don’t seem to react to either mushrooms or Quorn, so in my world that = Happy Days 🙂 .  As I say over and over again, however, if you react to mushrooms don’t use them – there are other veg you can use instead, for example leaks, courgette, squash.

5. Salmon

I haven’t put any salmon recipes on my blog, simply because it would cause no end of grief from some people and I would constantly be told that fish is high in histamine.  However, if fish is gutted and eaten (or gutted and frozen) soon after capture it’s histamine content is actually very low so  I choose to eat Tesco’s wild, frozen salmon as my friend Julie contacted Tesco and they told her their salmon was caught, gutted and frozen on board the boat so that’s as fresh as it’s going to get unless you catch it yourself!  I eat salmon because it’s just so good for you.  Fabulous source of Omega 3 oil, which has many vital roles within the body, and a great source of protein and B12.  I have never reacted to freshly gutted fish and it’s an important part of my pesco-vegetarian diet.

6. Cheese

Some people are surprised to see that I eat mozzarella cheese, along with other ‘soft’ cheeses like mascarpone and ricotta.  I spent a whole week once looking up how various cheeses were made and concluded that soft cheeses were pretty much ok.  Mozzarella isn’t aged or fermented – you can even make it at home (I personally don’t have the will or energy!) and is just separated curds and whey which is heated.  Some mozzarellas are made using a fermented live culture (which wouldn’t be allowed), but most aren’t.  Tesco’s mozzarella is suitable for vegetarians.

7. Tinned (canned) food

I hold my hands up!  I do use tinned beans in some of my recipes simply because they’re quicker than using dried.  My memory is so shocking I forget my own name some days, so remembering to soak dried beans overnight then having to boil them for ages before even starting to use them in a recipe would drive me nuts.  But as I state all the time on my blog, if you want to use dried beans knock yourself out.

I’m ill and don’t have much energy.  Not only do I live alone without any form of help and have 5 painful, exhausting, sometimes crippling diseases to contend with I’m also sole carer for my terminally ill Mum and have to keep an eye on my Dad who has dementia.  I don’t bake all my own biscuits or make every single item from scratch as I don’t have the energy – consequently I have to do buy some processed foods from the supermarket like the odd tin of beans.  However, I don’t beat myself up over it as I know I’m doing the best I can under difficult circumstances.  My diet is low histamine, not no histamine and that’s OK – you have to do what works for you.