Quercetin-Fish Oil Combination Found Effective for Colitis

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, June 8, 2006, abstracted from “Intestinal anti-inflammatory activity of combined quercitrin and dietary olive oil supplemented with fish oil, rich in EPA and DHA (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids, in rats with DSS-induced colitis” printed online May 15, 2006 in Clinical Nutrition

As a condition that affects more than one million Americans, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an inflammatory condition of the intestines that has no known cause but is thought to involve an immune reaction of the body to its own intestinal tract. The two major types of IBD are ulcerative colitis (UC), which is limited to the colon, and Crohn’s Disease (CD), which can involve any part of the digestive system.1

Although the current treatments for IBD aim at decreasing inflammation through prescription medications,(2,3) numerous side effects that include acne, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, psychological disturbances, cataracts, growth failure in children, and bone cell death4 make them very undesirable.

Fortunately, safer ways to help deal with IBD are starting to surface such as limiting sugar and fat intake5 while increasing dietary fiber6 and probiotic7 intake. Now a new study8 has found that a combination of supplements may help protect against IBD. The first, quercitin, is an antioxidant in plants recently found to be effective against type 2 diabetes.9 The second, fish oil, is an anti-inflammatory supplement10 essential for a number of health issues, from preserving heart health11 and vision12 to helping relieve back pain13 and stress.14

In the study, researchers divided rats into five groups. Three of the groups received a soybean oil diet. The other two groups received a fish oil diet comprised of 96% olive oil and 4% fish oil, providing the rats with 6 mg of fish oil per day. Finally, one of the two fish oil groups and one of the soybean oil groups also received quercetin in amounts of 1 mg per kg of bodyweight per day.

Two weeks after the start of the experiment, four of the groups (one soybean oil group, the soybean-quercetin group, and both fish oil groups) had colitis induced while the third soybean oil group remained the control. To measure colitis severity, researchers measured the levels of three enzymes known to play a key role in IBD: LTB4,15 TNF-alpha,16 and IL1-beta.17

The researchers found that fish oil reduced TNF-alpha levels by 49%, IL 1-beta levels by 31%, and LTB4 levels by 39.5% compared to the soybean oil group. When quercetin was added to the fish oil group, TNF-alpha, IL1-beta, and LTB4 levels fell by 57%, 62%, and 45%, respectively, compared to the soybean oil group.

While attributing some of these results to the antioxidant properties of olive oil (18), they gave more of the credit to the quercetin-fish oil combo and concluded that “this new treatment may have the potential to play a role in the treatment of IBD, not only owing to their anti-inflammatory effect but also for its ability to [decrease oxidative damage].”

Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at mailto:ChiroDocPSUalum@msn.com or visiting his website www.CompleteChiropracticHealthcare.com

Super Trio with Both Quercetin and Omega-3 Oil


1 “Ulcerative Colitis” posted on the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse website http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/colitis/

2 S.P.L. Travis and D.P. Jewel, Salicylates for ulcerative colitis-their mode of action, Pharm Ther 63 (1994), pp. 135–161

3 R. Bratts and M. Linden, Cytokine modulation by glucocorticoids: mechanisms and actions in cellular studies, Aliment Pharmacol Ther 10 (1996), pp. 81–90.

4 R.B. Stein and S.B. Hanauer, Comparative tolerability of treatments for inflammatory bowel disease, Drug Safe 23 (2000), pp. 429–448

5 Sakamoto N. Dietary Risk Factors for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Multicenter Case-Control Study in Japan. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2005 Feb;11(2):154-163

6 F. Fernandez-Bañares, J.L. Hinojosa and J.L. Sanchez-Lombraña et al., Randomized clinical trial of Plantago ovata seeds (dietary fiber) as compared with mesalamine in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis, Am J Gastroenterol 94 (1999), pp. 427–433

7 R.B. Sartor, Therapeutic manipulation of the enteric microflora in inflammatory bowel diseases: antibiotics, probiotics, and prebiotics, Gastroenterology 126 (2004), pp. 1620–1633.

8 Camuesco D. Intestinal anti-inflammatory activity of combined quercitrin and dietary olive oil supplemented with fish oil, rich in EPA and DHA (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids, in rats with DSS-induced colitis. Clinical Nutrition 2006. In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 15 May 2006

9 Collado PS. Quercetin Decreases Oxidative Stress, NF- B Activation, and iNOS Overexpression in Liver of Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats. J. Nutr. 2005 135: 2299-2304

10 Kim YJ. Anti-inflammatory action of dietary fish oil and calorie restriction; Life Sciences 2006; 78(21): 2523-2532

11 Fish consumption and the risk of developing acute coronary syndromes: the CARDIO2000 study” in the July 2005 issue of the International Journal of Cardiology 2005; 102 (3): 403-409

12 Bazan NG. Cell survival matters: docosahexaenoic acid signaling, neuroprotection and photoreceptors. Trends in Neuroscience. In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 3 April 2006

13 Maroon JC. ù-3 Fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surgical Neurology 2006; 65(4): 326-331

14 Monahan, K. D., T. E. Wilson, et al. (2004). “Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation augments sympathetic nerve activity responses to physiological stressors in humans.” Hypertension 44(5): 732-8

15 E.A. Lobos, P. Sharon and W.F. Stenson, Chemotactic activity in inflammatory bowel disease. Role of leukotriene B4, Dig Dis Sci 32 (1987), pp. 1380–1388

16 Camuesco, M. Comalada and M.E. Rodriguez-Cabezas et al., The intestinal anti-inflammatory effect of quercitrin is associated with an inhibition in iNOS expression, Br J Pharmacol 143 (2004), pp. 908–918

17 Y.R. Mahida, K. Wu and D.P. Jewell, Enhanced production of interleukin 1-beta by mononuclear cells isolated from mucosa with active ulcerative colitis of Crohn’s disease, Gut 30 (1999) (6), pp. 835–838
18 Ruano J. Phenolic content of virgin olive oil improves ischemic reactive hyperemia in hypercholesterolemic patients. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005 Nov 15;46(10):1864-8. Epub 2005 Oct 24



1 response to “Quercetin-Fish Oil Combination Found Effective for Colitis”

  1. Cindy Turner Avatar

    Sweet, that’s definitely what I was seeking for! You just spared me alot of looking around.

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