Unlock the secrets of longevity with luteolin

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Last updated on May 12th, 2023 at 12:12 pm

Nutritional biology is evolving, and with more research being conducted on preventative medicine, we are learning newer and better ways to take control of our own health. In this scenario, the saying ‘Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food’ is not only apt but also essential to ensure that we are eating foods that help us fight or prevent various health problems. Conventionally, these issues are treated only at the last stage, where potentially harmful drugs are often required. These drugs not only have side effects but also do not address the root cause of a disease.

One such problem is inflammation, caused by several factors including poor diet, no exercise, stress, and pollution. These are some of those factors which are a part of our modern life and can lead to chronic inflammation. Inflammation in the body can be reduced by making a few changes in our lifestyle and diet.

One such dietary nutrient is luteolin which can help us manage inflammation and other health issues. Let’s dive in to learn about luteolin and its potential benefits.

What is Luteolin?

Luteolin is a flavonoid that is naturally present in our foods. As a flavonoid luteolin falls under the sub-class flavones which are distinguished by double-bonded carbon atoms. Just like Quercetin which is another flavonoid, luteolin too is sometimes called ‘Vitamin P’(not scientifically) due to its ability to strengthen the capillaries which reduce permeability.

In plants, luteolin acts as a polyphenolic secondary metabolite which increases the chance of plant survival. Also, it gives some plants and flowers their distinct yellow color and has been used as a dye for millennia. In fact, Reseda luteola (dyer’s weed) leaves and plants were used from 1000 BC up until the 19th century AD to produce a yellow dye.

Luteolin is found in several foods and trees however it is most abundant in the leaves, stems, barks, pollens, and flowers. Like other flavonoids, Luteolin has multiple health benefits for humans because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, nephroprotective, and apoptosis-inducing properties. It also promotes and strengthens certain cells plus it’s a vascular endothelial growth factor receptor antagonist which makes luteolin a possible anti-carcinogen.

Luteolin Benefits & Uses

Luteolin and its effects on our health have been extensively researched. As it is present in our food we have long known about its benefits, which are further being confirmed with new studies and better research due to technological advancements. Although many of these studies are based on animal models it still gives us an insight into the possible benefits and mechanisms of luteolin as dietary nutrition.

Some of the benefits of luteolin are:

Cardioprotective

Lutelion has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties. These properties of luteolin make it cardioprotective which can prevent Cardiovascular disease. As luteolin is naturally present in fruits, flowers, and vegetables all part of a balanced diet that has been confirmed to prevent heart diseases.

Luteolin can improve heart function in chemo-induced heart failure. In a study done in 2013 luteolin was observed to reverse ventricular remodeling. Luteolin enhances myocardial contractility in heart muscles which increases blood flow to the body.

Luteolin is being studied for its ability to increase heart function and has been observed to increase heart health and prevent heart injury caused by factors like diabetes and oxidative stress.

Anti-Allergen

Flavonoids like luteolin contain antihistamines properties in their extracts which can be used to stop or slow down the production of histamines which can trigger an allergic reaction like skin itch and asthma.

Inflammation and changes in the airway due to allergies can trigger allergic asthma which causes discomfort and pain. In a recent study, Luteolin was found to significantly reduce the Beclin-1-PI3KC3 protein, one of the most important proteins needed for autophagy(removal of unwanted cell components). As allergies trigger our immune response to attack even unharmful substances, the findings of this study are important as it establishes the possible mechanism of luteolin in controlling allergic asthma.

Anti-Inflammatory

Just like most flavones, Luteolin too is an anti-inflammatory, it inhibits the production of cytokines and chemokines both of which signal inflammatory response of the immune system. By preventing the production of these signaling molecules Luteolin reduces the effects of inflammation response on the body.
Luteolin slows down the production of enzymes like prostaglandins and leukotrienes; both of these two enzymes are used for inflammatory response and can cause chronic inflammation.

As we already know luteolin is an antioxidant that can prevent inflammation caused by free radicals or Reactive Oxygen Species ( ROS). Inflammation caused by ROS may lead to other health problems, which can be prevented by a regular intake of luteolin.

Anti-Cancer

Luteolin has been shown to have anti-cancer properties both in vivo and in vitro, and unlike conventional drugs, it has selective cytotoxicity which affects cancer cells but does not affect healthy cells. This selective cytotoxicity of luteolin may prevent or inhibit the growth of certain cancers like breast, ovarian, lung, liver, and colon cancer.

In studies, luteolin shows the properties to accelerate or cause apoptosis. It slows down the generation of new blood vessels in tumors. Which can slow down the rate of metastasis.

There is some data that shows luteolin increases and strengthens the activity of immune cells which can help in the treatment of cancer by increasing the rate at which natural killer cells and cytotoxic T-cells, identify and kill cancerous cells.

Luteolin might also protect damaged cells due to its antioxidant properties which prevent health issues caused by oxidative stress.

Anti-Stress

There is some preliminary data and research which has been mostly done on animals which suggests that luteolin may be helpful in anxiety management.

Luteolin archives this by regulating neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin. Both of these two neurotransmitters play a role in mood and anxiety regulation.

In an animal study luteolin was found to exhibit anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties and worked to reduce anxiety due to environmental factors.

What foods contain Luteolin?

Luteolin is a flavonoid and if you have enough vegetables in your diet you are already consuming luteolin, however, just like other flavonoids luteolin too does not stay in the body for long and must be taken in a large amount for its claimed health benefits for it to work quickly.

Foods that are rich in luteolin are:

Vegetables

  • Radicchio
  • Peppers(Sweet,hot,green,jalapeno,yellow,red)
  • Chicory greens
  • Celery
  • Pumpkin
  • Red/Green Lettuce
  • Artichokes
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Beets

Fruits

  • Lemons
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelons
  • Navel oranges
  • Red Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Blueberry

Herbs*

  • Thyme
  • Tarragon
  • Queen Anne’s lace leaves
  • Perilla leaves
  • Peppermint
  • Parsley
  • Annual saw thistle leaves

*Herbs that are rich in flavones.

Luteolin is also present in grains and cereals. Albeit in much fewer amounts than it is present in vegetables and herbs.

Grains/legumes

  • Millet
  • Rice
  • Chickpea
  • Fava bean
  • Sorghum
  • Whole buckwheat

Some kinds of olives can be a good source of luteolin.
Luteolin is present in ‘bee- products’ as honey and propolis contains pollen which is a source of luteolin.

Luteolin Dosage

Luteolin is a flavonoid and as such does not have an established recommended daily allowance ( RDA). However, through various research and their data, we can identify a range of luteolin intake intended for different health benefits:

For Cancer: 20-600 mg/day
For Inflammation: 100-400 mg /day
For oxidative stress: 20-200 mg/ day

It is important to keep in mind that most studies conducted on the several benefits of luteolin are done on animal models. To fully understand and have conclusive data on the dosage of luteolin we need more large-scale human studies.

Luteolin Side Effects

As luteolin is present in our foods and occurs naturally in a wide variety of plants almost all of us tolerate it well. There are not many known side effects of luteolin. Most of its known side effects are digestion-related and usually resolve on their own.

Gastrointestinal issues caused by Luteolin are:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Precautions

There seem to be a few health issues that can be negatively affected by luteolin if you are taking luteolin supplements:

  1. The progesterone hormone-inhibiting properties of luteolin are helpful in breast cancer but not for endometrial cancer which starts in the uterus lining called the endometrium.
  2. Luteolin seems to worsen drug-induced colon inflammation in animal models.
  3. Luteolin can cause an increase in irritability in autistic kids.
  4. Luteolin supplements should not be combined with blood thinners, immunosuppressants, and liver-metabolized drugs.
  5. Luteolin supplements should be avoided by people who are allergic to flavonoids. Even though luteolin-induced allergic reactions are rare they might cause reactions like itching, swelling, and difficulty in breathing.

These precautions are based on a few preliminary kinds of research most of which were done on animal models. It is hard to conclusively say that these results would replicate in human studies as well, however, it is advisable to note these possible concerns and use luteolin under proper guidance.

Takeaways

Luteolin is a flavonoid found in foods like fruits and vegetables that possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, nephroprotective, and apoptosis-inducing properties. It strengthens capillaries, improves heart function, reduces allergic reactions, and can slow down the rate of metastasis in certain cancers while not affecting healthy cells. Regular intake of luteolin may help prevent various health problems caused by inflammation and free radicals.