A number of animal studies have suggested that a naturally occurring plant substance found in various fruits and vegetables may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and improve cognitive function, as well as provide some cancer-fighting properties. The substance is called fisetin, and although no human research has been done yet to help support or verify these reports, the results of existing studies thus far seem promising. Combine this with the fact there is a lot of interest in anti-aging, brain health, and prevention of cancer, and you have good reasons for exploring fisetin further.
What is fisetin?
Fisetin is a pigment and a polyphenol (specifically, a flavonoid) that is found in apples, cucumbers, grapes, lotus root, onions, persimmons, strawberries, and a few other less-common, nonfood plants. Strawberries have the highest concentration of fisetin, about seven times that found in apples. Eating foods that contain fisetin is recommended, however the best concentration of this special compound is found in supplements.
What is special about fisetin?
Two areas of research stand out when we talk about fisetin. One is the impact it has on aging and the loss of cognitive function. One reason fisetin is able to help brain function is that it has the ability to cross the brain-blood barrier, which means it can enter and influence cells in the brain.
In mouse models of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have been able to show that fisetin reduced cognitive impairment in old mice while also restoring several factors associated with stress, inflammation, and brain function. Some research also has shown that fisetin can reduce the accumulation of substances in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease (beta-amyloids), improve memory, and prevent inflammation in mouse models of Alzheimer’s.
Fisetin also boosts levels of glutathione, a potent antioxidant that can help enhance immune system function, detox the body, and fight against cancer. In a recent international study, experts noted that “emerging evidence suggests that fisetin may be useful for the prevention and management of several types of human malignancies.”
Like the studies of fisetin conducted on brain health, those involving cancer have also been done only on animals and in the lab. However, recent research has shown the antioxidant to have potential in the treatment of ovarian cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and cancer of other organs.
Other possible health benefits of fisetin
A limited number of animal and lab studies have explored the use of fisetin for other health issues. This research includes how the flavonoid may be helpful in managing depression, treating diabetes, reducing brain damage after stroke, relieving eczema, lowering blood pressure, protecting bones, relieving pain, and assisting with weight loss.
Fisetin is available in capsules either alone or in combination with other natural ingredients. A typical daily dose is 100 mg, but talk to your healthcare provider before taking this supplement. Supplements that contain fisetin as well as other ingredients are also available.
[Editor’s Note: CogGevity has a supplement created by neuroscientists that includes ingredients for brain health including fisetin.]
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Currais A et al. Fisetin reduces the impact of aging on behavior and physiology in the rapidly aging SAMP8 mouse. The Journals of Gerontology, Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 2017; June 2
Gelderblom M et al. The flavonoid fisetin attenuates postischemic immune cell infiltration, activation and infarct size after transient cerebral middle artery occlusion in mice. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism 2012 May; 32(5): 835-43
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Meng YB et al. The antitumor effects of fisetin on ovarian cancer in vitro and in vivo. Sichuan Da Xue Zue Bao Yi Xue Ban 2016 Nov; 47(6): 830-36