Quercetin is a flavonoid and, to be more specific, a flavonol. It is the aglycone form of a number of other flavonoid glycosides, such as rutin and quercitrin, found in citrus fruit, buckwheat and onions. Quercetin forms the glycosides quercitrin and rutin together with rhamnose and rutinose, respectively. Quercetin is classified as IARC group 3 (no evidence of carcinogenicity in humans).
Foods rich in quercetin include capers (1800mg/kg), lovage (1700mg/kg), apples (440mg/kg), tea (Camellia sinensis), onions, especially in red onions (higher concentrations of quercetin occur in the outermost rings), red grapes, citrus fruits, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables, cherries, and a number of berries including raspberry, bog whortleberry (158 mg/kg, fresh weight), lingonberry (cultivated 74mg/kg, wild 146 mg/kg), cranberry (cultivated 83 mg/kg, wild 121 mg/kg), chokeberry (89 mg/kg), sweet rowan (85 mg/kg), rowanberry (63 mg/kg), sea buckthorn berry (62 mg/kg), crowberry (cultivated 53mg/kg, wild 56 mg/kg), and the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. A recent study found that organically grown tomatoes had 79% more quercetin than "conventionally grown".
Quercetin also shows anti-tumour properties. A study in the British Journal of Cancer showed that, when treated with a combination of quercetin and ultrasound at 20 kHz for 1 minute duration, skin and prostate cancers show a 90% mortality within 48 hours with no visible mortality of normal cells. Note that ultrasound also promotes topical absorption by up to 1,000 times making the use of topical quercetin and ultrasound wands an interesting proposition.
Quercetin may have positive effects in combating or helping to prevent cancer, prostatitis, heart disease, cataracts, allergies/inflammations, and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma. It also has been claimed to have antidepressant properties, however any claim of quercetin action against neurological diseases should be treated with skepticism due to the fact that quercitin is a neurotoxin in vitro.
It also may be found in dietary supplements.
Quercetin is also a potent inhibitor of CYP3A4, an enzyme that breaks down most drugs in the body. As such, quercetin would be expected to increase serum levels, and therefore effects, of drugs metabolized by this enzyme.