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Health News Archive 146 - Prostate Health
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Quercetin Promising for Chronic Prostatitis


Burning prostate pain may not be a topic men often discuss, but it is a symptom of prostatitis, which affects about 5 percent of men and accounts for some 2 million medical visits in the United States every year. What's more, this inflammation—known as chronic prostatitis—can affect adult males of every age, not just older men.

Chronic prostatitis is a frustrating health problem because treatment options are poor. Most physicians prescribe multiple courses of antibiotics, which are modestly effective at best. Antibiotics fail largely because not all prostate distress is caused by bacteria. A large subgroup of men with chronic prostate symptoms has what the National Institutes of Health now calls prostatitis/category III: chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. What distinguishes this condition is an absence of bacteria found in the prostate fluid—so, not surprisingly, antibiotics do not help.

Study Findings

Quercetin, a naturally occurring bioflavonoid found in apples, black tea, and onions, was tested as a treatment for chronic prostatitis in a nonblinded study by researchers at the Institute for Male Urology in Encino, Calif. In the trial, an encouraging 59 percent of the subjects improved.1 In light of these results, Daniel Shoskes, M.D., and Jacob Rajfer, M.D., from the Division of Urology, Harbor­UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, decided to do a proper double-blind test of quercetin vs. placebo.

The researchers put 15 category III prostatitis patients on a twice-daily dose of 500 mg quercetin and 15 on placebo for one month. Two patients taking placebo dropped out because their symptoms worsened, whereas all those in the quercetin group remained. All 28 patients who completed the study noted decreased prostate symptoms including pain, voiding dysfunction, and impact on quality of life. In the quercetin group, symptom scores decreased significantly, by an average of about 40 percent, compared to an insignificant decrease of 6 percent for those taking placebo.2

This study appeared as a "rapid communication"—meaning high priority—in Urology, the leading U.S. urology journal. The researchers also conducted another small trial using 500 mg of a branded quercetin product twice daily for one month, to treat chronic prostatitis in 17 patients. The open study found that 82 percent of men had at least 25 percent improvement on their symptom scores.

The branded product from the third study is a combination of quercetin with the enzymes bromelain and papain. Shoskes states, "The latter two compounds are known to increase the absorption of bioflavanoids." Hence the interesting combination.


1. Shoskes D. Use of bioflavonoid quercetin in patients with long-standing chronic prostatitis J Am Neutraceut Assoc 1999;2:18-21.

2. Shoskes D, et al. Quercetin in men with category III chronic prostatitis. A preliminary prospective double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Urology 1999;54:960-3.

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