This is really bugging me! But, could bugs be the answer?
Quercetin is a member of the flavonoid group of compounds. These compounds occur naturally in plants, and have been shown to have properties that are beneficial to health.
Quercetin has been studied in several recent investigations to assess it’s ability to inhibit xanthine oxidase (XO). Both allopurinol and febuxostat work by XO inhibition.
Unfortunately, the quercetin studies are largely confined to laboratory experiments with occasional animal tests. Animal tests so far have not shown success, and this appears to be down to solubility of quercetin.
Just as I thought I had finished reviewing relevant research, I spotted a mention of quercetin buried deep in a study of large cabbage white caterpillars. So deep, that I cannot assess if quercetin is actually relevant, but it does not matter – the abstract is fascinating.
A comparison of extracts from the tronchuda cabbage (Portuguese kale) with extracts from caterpillers feeding off it reveals some startling chemistry. The caterpillar extract is far more effective than extracts from the plant on which it feeds. The authors of “Pieris brassicae Inhibits Xanthine Oxidase” conclude:-
This is the first time that an insect has been tested for its xanthine oxidase inhibitory capacity, which proved to be very high. These findings are interesting considering that they can be used by food or pharmaceutical industries to prevent the oxidation of their products, to increase the dietary supply of antioxidants, or for prevention of free radical-mediated diseases, namely, gout.