By now, most people with an interest in health are familiar with antioxidants like resveratrol or quercetin. While these compounds have been widely studied, research into a lesser known antioxidant called fisetin is only just beginning. Early studies suggest that fisetin is a powerful weapon against aging with a number of other medicinal effects including antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.
If you would like to learn more about fisetin and what it can do for your health, please read on.
What is Fisetin?
Fisetin is a type of polyphenol belonging to the flavonoid group. It is a plant pigment found in a number of different plants and gives color to various fruit and vegetables including strawberries, cucumbers and apples.
Over recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the potential health benefits of fisetin. It is currently being studied for its abilities to extend lifespan and slow down the process of aging. These ‘senolytic’ effects are of great interest to modern science.
Senolytics are a class of molecule undergoing research to investigate their ability to induce the death of senescent cells. The goal of the research is to discover and develop an agent to delay or prevent or even to reverse diseases related to the aging process.
While studies have consistently linked fisetin to various health benefits, it must be noted that research is still at an early stage. nearly all of the research to date has been done in the laboratory or on animals. At the time of writing, only one clinical trial had been conducted.
Food Sources of Fisetin
Fisetin is present in a number of fruit and vegetables. The following are some of the best sources :
- Lotus root
- Kiwi fruit
Health Benefits of Fisetin
Studies have found that fisetin has a number of potential health benefits. It has powerful antioxidant effects that can not only neutralize free radicals directly but also helps increase the effects of other antioxidants in the system.
Studies have also found that fisetin has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer potential. The compound may have a very diverse range of effects on various organs including the brain, heart and liver. It may also benefit the skin and help treat depression.
Without further ado, let us take a look at the specific health benefits that fisetin offers.
Anti-Aging and Life Extension
Extending a person’s lifespan is a big deal but more important than longevity itself is the extension of a person’s healthy lifespan.
We have already mentioned that fisetin is a potential senolytic compound. This is a term used to refer to a compound that can slow down aging. When we age, senescent cells build up. these cells become damaged, stop dividing and start to release inflammatory molecules. (1)
As the body begins to accumulate more senescent cells, so it is affected. These cells damage the healthy tissue and contribute to a range of age-related conditions from cancer and heart disease to osteporosis and Alzheimer’s. (2)
Animal studies have found that removing these cells helps ease inflammation and increase lifespan.
Recent research into the senolytic effect of plant compounds found that fisetin was especially powerful. Researchers compared the effects of a normal diet and a diet rich in fisetins fed to mice. They found that the mice fed with fisetin lived around 10% longer. not only was their lifestyle extended but their bodies functioned more effectively well into old age. (3)
A 10% extension in lifespan is very significant and the study has understandably generated considerable excitement.
Other studies have found that fisetin can extend the lifespan of flies by over 20% and yeast by over 50%. (4) (5)
These very promising led to a new clinical trial to investigate the effects of fisetin on inflammation and bone health in the elderly. The results are expected some time in late 2020. (6)
So can fisetin really help you to live longer? The signs are certainly promising but we need to wait on the results of clinical trials before getting overly excited.
A number of laboratory studies have found that fisetin can prevent the growth and the spread of cancer cells. It works by causing the death of cancer cells (apoptosis).
Animal and laboratory studies have found that fisetin was effective against various types of cancer including :
- ovarian cancer (7)
- pancreatic cancer (8)
- prostate cancer (9)
- breast cancer (10)
- lung cancer (11)
- leukemia (12)
- colon cancer (13)
- skin cancer (14)
Researchers believe that fisetin is effective against cancer cells because of its antioxidant boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.
One animal study also found that fisetin may make lung cancer cells more vulnerable to treatment with chemotherapy. (15)
This spate of recent studies is extremely promising but it remains to be seen whether the results will be translated to humans.
Fisetin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. The compound protects the body from damage related to stress and inflammation and helps protect it from inflammatory disease. The compound helps prevent inflammation but also helps the body manage existing inflammation.
Research has found that fisetin regulates the inflammatory pathways and helps deactivate a number of inflammatory compounds. It can also help the body produce more glutathione which is the most potent anti-inflammatory compound in the body. (16)
A number of studies have also found that fisetin is good for the heart. It can help protect the heart’s health in a number of ways. It may protect against oxidative stress and may also help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.
One animal study found that fisetin helped improve heart function and health in rats that had an abnormal thickening of the heart’s walls. (17) Another study found that fisetin protected the heart tissue and improved function following damage caused by heart attack. (18)
May reduce cholesterol
Studies have found that fisetin helped reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in rats given a high-fat diet. Studies into the effects of fisetin on diabetic rats found that fisetin helped reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 50% while helping to double the level of HDL (the good type) cholesterol levels. (19) (20)
May reduce blood pressure
According to laboratory and animal studies, fisetin may also help improve blood flow and decrease blood pressure. (21)
One cell study also found that fisetin prevented the clumping of blood cells suggesting that fisetin may help prevent blood clots. (22)
According to studies, fisetin has an impressive range of potential benefits for the brain. It may help prevent age-related brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and may also help protect against common emotional issues like anxiety and depression.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory
As people age, certain immune cells found in the brain become overactive. This results in inflammation and also damages healthy brain cells.
Laboratory studies have found that fisetin helps boost the levels of antioxidants in the brain and prevents the release of inflammatory compounds. (23)
Animal studies have also found that fisetin reduces the build up of amyloid plaque in mice and protects against the loss of healthy brain cells. (24)
Another study found that older rats fed with fisetin experienced improvements in memory and learning. (25)
Anxiety and Depression
Studies conducted on mice have found that fisetin helped reduce depression by increasing noradrenaline and serotonin levels. (26)
Other studies involving mice have found that fisetin reduced anxiety and depression caused by pain. (27)
Researchers believe it works because it blocks monoamine oxidase – an enzyme responsible for breaking down noradrenaline and serotonin.
A number of animal studies have also found that fisetin protects the brain cells and helps reduce damage and inflammation caused by stroke. (28) (29)
Fisetin may help treat seizures resulting from brain injury. According to studies, fisetin might help prevent seizure by decreasing oxidative stress. (30)
Fisetin can also help regulate blood sugar levels making it a potential treatment option for people with diabetes. According to various studies, fisetin helps keep blood sugar levels in check in the following ways : (31, 32, 33)
- It helps increase insulin levels
- Increases the number of enzymes that convert sugar to energy.
- Removes sugars from blood and stores them in the liver as glycogen
Studies have also found that fisetin could help with some of the symptoms experienced by people with diabetes including neuropathic pain. (42)
Animal studies have also found that fisetin may help keep weight under control and combat obesity.
One study found that fisetin helped prevent weight gain in mice fed on a high-fat diet. In fact they gained around 75% less body weight when given fisetin. A significant and impressive difference. (34)
Researchers are still not certain of the precise mechanism for its weight loss effects. They believe it works by blocking mTOR and reducing the growth of fat cells. It might also increase adiponectin – a hormone which stimulates fat-burning.
Research also suggests that fisetin may help keep the bones strong and healthy which is a particular concern as we age.
Bone health is linked to estrogen levels which drop after menopause leaving women at a higher risk of bone disease like osteoporosis.
In animal studies, mice low on estrogen experienced improvements in bone density and reduced bone loss after being fed fisetin. (35)
While research is still at an early stage, the results suggest that fisetin may play a role in improving bone health in post-menopausal women.
As well as its many potential benefits on internal health, there is a growing body of evidence that fisetin can help boost the skin;s health in a number of ways.
Studies have found that fisetin can improve the skin’s health and appearance by protecting against the break down of collagen caused by exposure to UV rays. It also helped reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative damage caused by exposure to UV rays. (36)
When fisetin was applied topically to mice, it helped prevent inflammation, DNA damage and abnormal skin cell growth caused by exposure to UV rays. Animal studies have also found it could prevent the formation of wrinkles by boosting the levels of collagen in the skin. (37)
Fisetin may also help treat common inflammatory skin conditions including eczema. One animal study found that fisetin helped reduce inflammation and redness in mice with the skin disease. (38)
Several studies into the effects of fisetin suggest it could also have antimicrobial properties. According to research, it may be effective against bacteria, fungi and even certain parasites.
One study found that fisetin was effective against listeria. (39). Another study found that it was effective against two types of harmful fungus that affect people with poor immune systems. (40)
As well as its potential antimicrobial benefits, fisetin has also demonstrated the ability to fight parasitic infections. (41)
How to Use Fisetin
Fisetin is found in several different fruits and vegetables and is also available in supplementary form.
Which Food contains Fisetin?
- Strawberries are the best dietary source of fisetin. They contain by far the highest amount of the compound and atre relatively low in sugar.
- Cucumber and onions also contain modest amounts of the compound but eating enough to make a significant impact on your fisetin levels is not practical.
- Persimmon and grapes also contain fisetin but both of these fruits are relatively high in sugar.
Fisetin is also available in supplementary form including capsules. Unfortunately, very few of the studies done to date have involved human patients but one study found that 100 mg each day was effective in treating inflammation.
An ongoing clinical trial is using a much higher dose but the results will not be available until next year.
If you are planning to use supplementary fisetin, make sure that you follow the dosage guidelines on the label carefully and consult your medical expert if in any doubt.
Precautions and Side Effects
The animal studies done to date suggest that fisetin is safe even in very high doses. However, precious few clinical studies have been conducted and we need to wait on the results of ongoing studies to conform its safety profile.
The only side effect reported in the sole clinical trial done so far was stomach discomfort. This side effect was reported by a patient undergoing chemotherapy treatment and similar effects were reported by people in the placebo group who were also undergoing chemotherapy.
There is no safety data regarding the effects of supplementary fisetin on children. Likewise, we do not know how safe the compound would be for pregnant women and nursing mothers. As a result, children and women who are pregnant or breast feeding should stay on the side of caution and avoid using fisetin supplements.
Fisetin may interact with blood thinning medications like warfarin (Coumadin). The liver processes warfarin through the same pathway it uses to process fisetin. this may increase the effect of warfarin. If you are taking warfarin, please speak with your doctor before also taking fisetin supplements.
Fisetin may also act with medications to reduce blood sugar levels. Animal studies have found that fisetin reduces blood sugars significantly. If you are taking medication to reduce your blood sugar levels, you must speak with your doctor before supplementing with fisetin.
- Fisetin is an antioxidant compound found in certain fruit and vegetables.
- It has a number of potential health benefits including anti-inflammatory, antioxidat and anti-cancer properties.
- A host of recent studies into the anti-aging effects of fisetin suggest it may be an effective senolytic meaning it could help extend lifespan and maintain health into old age.
- A number of studies have also found that fisetin was effective against a number of cancer types including breast, skin, lung and colon cancers.
- Studies also suggest that fisetin has various heart and brain health benefits. It may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and improving blood circulation.
- Fisetin might also improve memory and protect against age-related brain disease like Alzheimer’s disease.
- As well as its many potential benefits to internal health, fisetin might also help protect the skin from free radical damage and might also be a natural remedy for inflammatory skin conditions like eczema.
- Up to now, the vast majority of studies have been conducted in the laboratory or on animals. While the signs so far are promising, more clinical trials are needed before we can say how effective the compound might be on humans. One ongoing study is likely to tell us more when the results are releases in the near future.