Sinus pain and pressure that often comes with allergies can be intense. A runny nose and itchy, watery eyes can drive anyone nuts. Just before allergy season hits hard I like to add in quercetin and bromelain. Quercetin and bromelain are great for allergies but the major benefit is they both fight inflammation. Keeping the sinus pressure under control can make allergy season tolerable.
It isn’t my first line of defense for allergies I like to start by avoiding allergy triggers and adding vitamins that help allergies. During the worst of allergy season, vitamins alone may not be enough. The first supplements I like to add are probiotics (these can be taken year round) then quercetin and bromelain for allergy season.
What is Quercetin?
Quercetin is a type of flavonoid found in plants. It is in plants with dark colors like red, purple and green, it also can be found in some teas (green tea). Red onions are great natural sources for quercetin. Apples, berries, and grape are fruit sources that contain good amounts.
The yellow pigment in the plant is what makes up quercetin, so if you get a supplement don’t be worried if it is a bright yellow color.
Along with its anti-inflammatory benefits, it has antioxidant and anti-cancer effects. It’s another great reason to get as many fruits and vegetables in your diet as possible.
There have been many studies of quercetin and how it helps allergies. In the study, Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response, the many benefits are reviewed. One of the reasons quercetin is so beneficial for allergies is that it not only helps when someone is having allergy symptoms but it prevents the problem. It helps regulate the immune system and prevent it from overreacting to harmless things.
Including foods high in quercetin in your diet can improve your overall health. Food is the first source to try but if increasing those foods aren’t enough then a supplement for a few months may help more. I like taking bromelain with the quercetin, they work better and can do wonders for sinus pain and pressure.
What is Bromelain?
Bromelain is a digestive enzyme that is found mainly in pineapple. The pineapple core has the highest amount of bromelain. Other fruits don’t have a significant amount of bromelain, so hopefully, you really enjoy pineapple.
Like quercetin, bromelain has been shown to help regulate the immune system. It helps an overactive and hypersensitive immune system calm down. A study was done on people with chronic sinusitis (inflammation in the sinuses) who had already had sinus surgery for their symptoms but continue to have problems after surgery. After bromelain was given for three months symptoms improved.
How depressing would it be to have surgery to help with chronic sinus inflammation and pain and still have no relief? Surgery is usually one of the last ways to treat a problem and when it doesn’t work it is frustrating. My husband went through this same problem, surgery didn’t help his sinus pain in the slightest. Polyps were removed but the pain and sinus pressure never got better. A year later he was still having pain on a daily basis. Once I read this study I ordered some bromelain and went out to buy a pineapple. A couple weeks after taking quercetin and bromelain (and a few other supplements) he was finally starting to feel some relief, and hope that the pain would finally be gone.
If you want to eat pineapple for your dose of bromelain remember the highest amount is at the core. I like to make smoothies with the pineapple. I simply cut off the outer skin and cut the pineapple into chunks, core and all, and toss some into the blender. Leftover pineapple goes in the freezer for next time. Don’t try this unless you have a good blender. A weak one may break or leave you with a very chunky smoothie and tough not so sweet tasting chunks of pineapple core. I have a ninja blender and it works great, you can’t even tell there is pineapple core in the smoothie.
Pineapple juice is also another way to get it, juicing your own for fresh pineapple juice is best. Simply toss the core in and juice it or add it with a few other fruits and vegetables. When drinking pineapple juice for the health benefits fresh juice is best.
How Much to Take
It is always better to start at a lower dose and work your way up to a dose that helps you. For quercetin start out at a lower dose around 200mg 2-3 times a day. You can slowly work your way up to around 1000mg 2-3 times a day if needed. It has not been studied for extended periods of time but was well tolerated in studies that lasted around three months. Some people report taking it consistently for over a year with no side effects, but the effects of long-term use aren’t yet known.
Bromelain can be taken at the same time in doses of 200mg-400mg 2-3 times a day to start (or smaller). High doses of 500mg-1000mg 2-3 times a day are required for some to have relief. This should also be taken for only a short period of time if possible.
Start out with low doses of both, if you need to increase doses try increasing quercetin first. Bromelain may help increase absorption of quercetin and slowly increasing one at a time is best to avoid side effects.
When taking bromelain for inflammation take between meals on an empty stomach. Taken with meals it aids digestion but works best when taken between meals for inflammation. Quercetin may be taken with or without meals but works best when taken with bromelain for better absorption.
Studies were done for three month periods and showed both were tolerated well during that time. If you can limit usage to about a three month period and then take a break. This is hopefully enough time to get you through allergy season.
Some supplements come with both in one capsule. Else start with a low dose of both and increase slowly. The pain, pressure and allergy symptoms may take a few days for improvements. Sinus inflammation, depending on how severe it is, may take more time to improve. Once you find a dose that works for you stay there for a few weeks if symptoms are controlled gradually take less. I sometimes find once the worse of the swelling, pain, or symptoms are gone for a few weeks a smaller dose is still helpful at keeping symptoms away.
Both quercetin and bromelain can interact with medications. This includes blood thinners, antibiotics, over the counter pain medications, blood pressure medications, and sedatives. Any medication that is changed by the liver may be affected. If you are already on medication make sure to discuss this with your doctor first.
Do not take these supplements if you are nursing or pregnant, but there is no risk in increasing food sources of quercetin and bromelain.
High amounts of quercetin for extended periods of time could possibly cause kidney damage. It is important to be cautious when taking for long times.
As always whenever thinking of adding supplements or making major changes it is best to speak to your healthcare provider first.
Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Skrovankova S, Sochor J. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules. 2016; 21(5):623.
Büttner L, Achilles N, Böhm M, Shah-Hosseini K, Mösges R. Efficacy and tolerability of bromelain in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis–a pilot study. B-ENT. 2013;9(3):217-25.