Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Luteolin is a bioflavonoid with powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. The flavonoid is found in various plants and may serve a number of therapeutic purposes including as a treatment for allergies.
Learn about the other health benefits of luteolin, along with the flavonoid’s connection to cannabis.
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What Is Luteolin?
Luteolin is a flavonoid or natural nutrient found in plants, including cannabis. Flavonoids like luteolin have been found to have beneficial effects on human health by reducing oxidative stress, an imbalance in the body that can precede many serious diseases including cancer.
Luteolin is found primarily in leaves but is also naturally present in barks and clover blossoms. Food sources of luteolin include mint, celery, broccoli, artichoke, and oranges. Common herbs such as parsley, thyme, rosemary and oregano also contain luteolin.
How Luteolin Works in Cannabis
The flavonoids in cannabis infuse the plant with bursts of flavor and color. Luteolin is a yellow crystalline substance that will influence how your senses perceive what you see, taste and smell in any given cannabis product. For example, luteolin could lend a yellowish hue to strains that are high in this flavonoid.
More importantly, the flavonoid luteolin infuses the cannabis plant with therapeutic potency. In conjunction with terpenes and cannabinoids, flavonoids create a synergistic entourage effect that optimizes any health benefits. As these plant compounds work together, they bind to receptors in your endocannabinoid system and/or other receptor systems, connecting with one another and sending messages to heal.
Health Benefits and Uses
Research on the health benefits of luteolin is mostly limited to animal studies but is growing as scientists explore more about the therapeutic actions of dietary flavonoids. The current research on luteolin suggests that the flavonoid could have the following pharmacological uses:
Luteolin extracted from peppermint leaves may inhibit histamines and therefore improve allergy symptoms. Histamines cause the skin to itch, and luteolin-rich peppermint oil may reduce the itching associated with allergies including allergic asthma, as well as contact dermatitis, according to research published in the scientific journal Integrative Medicine. Other research suggests that luteolin could reduce allergic nasal inflammation.
The flavonoid luteolin may also be able to reduce non-allergic inflammation, including in brain inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS). Further evidence published in the journal Nutrition and Lifestyle in Neurological Autoimmune Diseases suggests that luteolin could reduce inflammation related to MS. Related research has demonstrated that luteolin could play a role in reducing inflammation in the gut. Gastrointestinal inflammation is linked to many serious diseases, including Crohn’s disease and cancers of the GI tract.
Many types of cancer could benefit from luteolin. The flavonoid may be able to regulate estrogen levels, which could positively impact certain types of female cancers like breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Furthermore, luteolin could have an antioxidant effect on human lung cancer cells as well as work to inhibit the incidence of colon cancer.
Studies performed on animal models indicate that luteolin may help reduce anxiety. Along with decreased levels of anxiety, luteolin could promote better social interaction. However, these studies were conducted on mice and do not necessarily translate to human populations.
Side Effects of Luteolin
Luteolin is generally safe to consume. Side effects may occur in some people, especially those who take the flavonoid in high doses as a dietary supplement, but these are rare and poorly understood. In one mouse study, luteolin worsened chemical-induced colitis, but whether this applies to people remains to be seen.
A cell line study suggests that luteolin (and quercetin) “display progesterone antagonist activity beneficial in a breast cancer model but deleterious in an endometrial cancer model.” However, this is just a cell line study, and it only suggests caution with consuming luteolin via supplement, not from a plant-rich diet.
One openlabel pilot study on children with autism spectrum disorder (AUD) suggests that luteolin may have both positive and negative effects, as adaptive functioning (how well a person handles common demands in life and how independent they are) improved, but their irritability increased as well.
Consult with your doctor before taking luteolin supplements. Like most dietary supplements, luteolin supplements have not received FDA approval. Furthermore, luteolin supplements may not be safe to take if you are taking blood pressure medications, calcium channel blockers and certain other prescription drugs.
Rule of thumb: the safest way to experience any plant compound is directly from the natural source, not from a pill.
Experience a rich variety of flavonoids and other plant nutrients like luteolin with a medical marijuana card. Apply for your MMJ card through Leafwell’s online clinic today and get your passport to legally enjoy the potential health benefits of cannabis.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What foods are high in luteolin?
Foods that are high in luteolin include oranges, artichokes, carrots, broccoli and celery. A cup of chamomile, peppermint or dandelion tea also provides a good source of luteolin.
What is luteolin good for?
The flavonoid luteolin may be helpful in treating allergies, reducing inflammation and fighting cancer. More clinical trials involving people are needed on the therapeutic benefits of luteolin.
What is the best source of luteolin?
The best sources of luteolin include natural plant foods rather than dietary supplements. A spoonful of olive oil or a dash or oregano offer rich sources of luteolin. In addition to food sources, leaves, barks and ragweed pollen contain abundant amounts of luteolin.