What Is Luteolin?
Luteolin is a flavonoid present in many fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs. Flavonoids protect plants from microbes and other environmental threats and provide us with a range of health benefits.
Did you know? Both “flavonoid” and “luteolin” have the yellow color in their names (Latin: lūteus, flavus). Luteolin is bright yellow in its crystalline form, but don’t confuse it with yellow plant pigment, lutein.
- Relieves inflammation and oxidative stress
- Protects the brain and stimulates cognition
- Combats different types of cancer
- Prevents cardiovascular disease
- Wards off bacterial and viral infections
- Prevents diabetes complications
- May help with thyroid issues and allergies
- Not well studied in humans
- May disrupt progesterone functions
- May worsen colon inflammation
- Beneficial doses hard to achieve with foods
- Citrus fruits (lemon, orange, grapefruit)
- Spices (thyme, peppermint, rosemary, oregano)
- Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peppers)
Health Benefits of Luteolin
How It Works
Luteolin has potent anticancer properties. It inhibits the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, blocks the metabolic activation of carcinogens, and stops cancer cell division. Luteolin can also kill different types of cancer cells and make them more sensitive to chemotherapy [1, 5, 6].
- Combat inflammation
- Block oxidative damage
- Balance hormones (estrogen and progesterone)
- Fight bacteria and viruses
Luteolin can stimulate oxidation in some cases, and this effect probably helps remove damaged cells and pathogens .
1) Protects the Brain and Nerves
This study had a small sample and lacked a control group. Well-designed clinical trials should confirm this effect of luteolin and other flavonoids.
- Reducing glutamate levels
- Combating brain inflammation and oxidative stress
- Supporting neuron growth in the hippocampus
- Preventing protein mutations
Studies on rats with Alzheimer’s Disease have confirmed the anti-inflammatory and brain-protecting effects of luteolin. It prevented Alzheimer’s in the animals by enhancing their cognition, memory, and coordination [18, 19, 20].
- Boost glutathione and reduce oxidative brain damage
- Increase the beneficial proteins – BDNF and CREB
- Reverse cognitive impairment
- Prevent seizures and decrease their severity
- Parkinson’s disease
- Brain trauma
- Multiple sclerosis
2) May Fight Cancer
With skyrocketing cancer rates in the US and other developed countries, the quest for the “magic pill” continues. Here’s why luteolin might find its place in one such pill.
In studies on mice and other lab animals, luteolin prevented the growth of:
- Prostate cancer 
- Breast cancer [34, 35, 36]
- Lung cancer 
- Stomach cancer [38, 39, 40]
- Colon cancer 
- Ovarian cancer 
- Liver cancer 
Cells studies have added pancreatic and brain cancer to the list of luteolin targets. It can even combat drug-resistant cancers and boost the effects of chemotherapy – all without damaging the healthy cells or hurting the animals [44, 45, 34, 42, 46, 1].
The above results should pave the way of luteolin into the future of cancer research. Unfortunately, clinical trials haven’t yet verified its cancer-fighting properties.
3) Prevents Bacterial and Viral Infections
The cell wall of gram-negative bacteria contains lipopolysaccharides (LPS). This combination of carbs and lipids can trigger severe inflammation in our bodies and cause different symptoms of bacterial infection .
Luteolin prevented LPS-induced eye infection in rats by inhibiting inflammatory molecules (TNF-alpha, nitric oxide, and prostaglandin-E2). It was as effective as a corticosteroid drug, prednisolone .
In mice, luteolin inhibited the spreading of Epstein-Barr virus, preventing nose and throat cancer triggered by this virus. It also blocked the hepatitis B virus, which may cause severe liver damage [56, 57, 58].
In a cell study, luteolin showed potent activity against Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), the leading cause of viral brain inflammation .
4) May Boost Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular diseases still top the list of death causes, claiming ¼ of lives in the US .
- Strengthen heart cells and enhance contractions
- Stabilize heart enzymes
- Prevent tissue damage and cell death
- Protect the cells against oxidative stress during a heart attack
5) May Prevent Diabetes Complications
- Diabetic encephalopathy (brain damage)
- Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Diabetic cystopathy (bladder dysfunction)
In test tubes, the antioxidant effects of luteolin prevented diabetic osteopathy, or bone degradation .
6) May Support the Thyroid
7) May Relieve Asthma and Allergies
8) May Protect the Skin Against UV Radiation
Ever heard advice to “eat your sunscreen”? Here’s how it works: when you consume them, antioxidants such as luteolin protect your skin from the inside and prevent UV-induced damage.
9) Effects on Testosterone
Cell-based studies reveal that luteolin is a natural aromatase inhibitor. By blocking aromatase, it reduces the conversion of male sex hormones to estrogens.
By blocking aromatase, luteolin might also work as a testosterone booster.
As an added benefit, this antioxidant may also protect men from the negative effects of electromagnetic fields on reproductive health. The cell phones we carry everywhere nowadays are one source of exposure.
Luteolin increased testosterone levels and prevented testicle shrinking in rats exposed to strong electromagnetic fields .
10) May Stimulate Hair Growth
Many factors can trigger hair loss, but high levels of an inflammatory substance called prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) might be one of the culprits, especially in men. Mice with high PGD2 levels develop baldness and oily skin [80, 81].
Scientists consider that lowering PGD2 may hold the “cure” for baldness. It might also speed up skin regeneration and enhance scalp health, while high PGD2 levels block skin repair mechanisms [81, 82, 83].
How can luteolin help?
In rat and cell-based studies, luteolin lowered PGD2. In turn, it might boost hair growth. But have in mind that the available research is very limited. Whether or not luteolin can reverse hair loss in humans is far from certain [84, 85].
Limitations and Caveats
Luteolin has shown encouraging effects in animal models of cancer and other chronic diseases but lacks solid clinical data to support these findings.
Advanced supplement formulations with luteolin may help overcome this issue and take advantage of its health benefits (see “Luteolin Supplements” below).
Luteolin Dosage & Supplement Forms
Luteolin is available in different supplement forms including:
- Chewable tablets
Most products contain a mixture of luteolin and rutin, which is a flavonoid derived from quercetin. Doses range from 100 – 300 mg per serving.
One supplement (NeuroProtek) contains a unique combination: luteolin + quercetin + rutin (100/70/30 mg per serving).
In addition to individual supplements and flavonoid combinations, luteolin is present in different herbal supplements for immunity and antioxidant support.
Luteolin Side Effects & Precautions
Treatment with luteolin and other flavonoids temporarily increased irritability in 50% of children with autism spectrum disorders .
Luteolin blocks the effects of progesterone and thus helps combat breast cancer, but this effect might be detrimental in cases of uterine and cervical cancer. The evidence around its effect on estrogen is contradicting and requires further investigation [89, 90].
Pregnant women and children should avoid luteolin supplements, unless under strict medical supervision.
Buy Luteolin Supplements
Our bodies quickly metabolize luteolin so you may want to consider natural supplements with a range of flavonoids, such as:
Pure luteolin supplements and flavonoid combinations are also available:
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Luteolin is a flavonoid with potent anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Food sources of luteolin include citrus fruits, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and spices.
According to animal and cell studies, luteolin can protect the brain and nerves, prevent cancer and diabetes complications, boost cardiovascular health, and more. It showed promising results in children with autism spectrum disorders but still lacks well-designed clinical trials.
Luteolin may worsen cervical cancer and some forms of colon inflammation. Pregnant women and children should take luteolin under strict medical supervision only.
Supplements usually contain a mixture of luteolin and other flavonoids such as rutin and quercetin; they are available as pills or powders.