Rutin is one of the most powerful flavonoids, abundant in many plants, fruits, and vegetables. As a strong antioxidant, rutin can fight inflammation and protect the heart and brain. It also reduces bruising and helps with vein problems. Keep reading to learn more–food sources and side effects included.
What is Rutin?
Rutin, also known as vitamin P or rutoside, is an important flavonoid. Many plants, fruits, and vegetables are a rich source of rutin, such as apples, passion flower, buckwheat, and tea. The name “rutin” comes from the plant Rue (Ruta graveolens), which also contains rutin. Eating foods rich in rutin on a daily basis has an array of benefits for the whole body [1, 2].
Like all flavonoids, rutin is an antioxidant. It’s one of the most important and well-researched flavonoids. Rutin has anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting potential, and it can protect the heart, liver, brain, and bones [1, 2, 3].
How It Works (Mechanisms)
Rutin is not an especially large flavonoid, but specific parts of its molecule interact with different systems in the body, such as the brain, heart, or blood vessels.
For example, rutin contains two bound sugar molecules, which enhance its antioxidant effects on the brain .
Overall, rutin acts by :
- Protecting brain cells from damage
- Blocking inflammatory enzymes (phospholipase A2), similar to corticosteroids but without the side effects
- Reducing oxidative stress and free radicals
- Safely lowering high blood pressure, affecting similar pathways as drugs used for high blood pressure (blocks ACE)
- Boosting acetylcholine (by clocking the enzyme that degrades it, AChE)
- Binding to and neutralizing toxic compounds that build up in the body if exposed to radiation
- Relaxing blood vessels
Health Benefits of Rutin
1) Helps with Vein Problems
Enlarged, or varicose veins are common during pregnancy, as well as in people who spend extended periods of time standing.
This supplement had the same benefits in another study of 22 people with varicose veins and venous insufficiency. The higher dose had a faster effect than the lower dose (2 g/day vs. 1 g/day), but everyone experienced the benefits in just 8 days .
2) Relieves Hemorrhoids
3) Protects the Brain
Rutin protected rats who had a stroke from the detrimental effects of poor blood flow to the brain. It could also improve their memory, and ensure the survival of important brain cells located in the brain’s memory hub (the hippocampus) .
In one cellular study, rutin increased the survival of the neural crest – important cells that give rise to the nervous system, skin, and other tissues during fetal development. It shows potential for protecting the baby’s brain during pregnancy and ensuring it develops properly .
4) Reduces Inflammation
Rutin reduced brain inflammation and enhanced the survival of brain cells in rats with Alzheimer’s disease and those with failing cognition. Rutin could also protect from the effects of poor blood flow and oxidative stress in cells .
It decreases the production of inflammatory molecules in brain cells, such as TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta. It also blocks harmful reactive oxygen species, the inflammation-promoting nitric oxide, and helps stabilize the active form of glutathione. Glutathione, in turn, protects the body’s energy powerhouse – the mitochondria .
5) Protects the Heart
Flavonoids, in general, are well known for their heart-protective benefits.
Rutin increased the production of nitric oxide (NO) in blood vessel cells, which relaxes them and reduces blood pressure. Potentially, rutin could be beneficial for those with high blood pressure .
6) May Help with Diabetes
Rutin protected the pancreas, lowered glucose, and increased insulin levels in diabetic rats. It helped to restore normal levels of sugar reserves in the liver (glycogen) and enzymes that break down sugars while reducing fat stores .
Rutin seems to help re-balance sugar and fats use and breakdown in the body in animals. Along with its antioxidant action, rutin could potentially be helpful for people who suffer from diabetes.
7) May Reduce Cholesterol
Rutin also decreased total cholesterol levels in hamsters, with no reported adverse effects .
8) May Protect the Liver
In rats, rutin protected the liver from damage and boosted antioxidant liver enzymes, preventing liver disease .
In postmenopausal rats with osteoporosis, rutin slowed down bone loss and increased bone mineralization .
In bone marrow immune cells, rutin blocked the development of bone-degrading cells. These cells are overactive in osteoporosis, a process rutin may be able to hinder. In fact, rutin can increase the activity of bone-building cells, which could help rebuild bones and maintain bone health .
10) May Slow Down Aging and Protect the Skin
In rats, rutin reduced markers of aging linked to collagen and prevented their build-up in skin cells. These aging markers also rise in people with diabetes and are linked to poor health. Rutin has the potential to be used as an anti-aging supplement .
Flavonoids, in general, can protect against UV rays. But rutin specifically could also be used in sunscreen. Rutin has an SPF effect, which could reach 30 when combined with other compounds in the lab .
11) May Reduce Bruising
12) Antioxidant Action
Various flavonoids are being researched for their antioxidant effects. The studies that describe the antioxidant action of rutin alone are numerous… And it’s precisely this antioxidant capacity that enables rutin to protect vital organs and potentially even combat cancer .
The buildup of free radicals in the body can damage the DNA and set off the development of cancer. Rutin, along with other flavonoids, could stop the spreading of cancer and trigger cancer cell death in cells .
Rutin Side Effects & Safety
Rutin is considered generally safe. There is no known harm to taking in large amounts of rutin-rich foods, such as buckwheat or apples (unless you are sensitive to any of those).
However, some people may be allergic to rutin. Rutin supplements can rarely cause :
- Skin irritation or allergies
- Eye irritation
- Respiratory irritation
Pregnant women should not worry about eating rutin-rich foods on a daily basis.
However, use of the Rue plant should be avoided at all cost. Tea from this plant (Ruta graveolens) is used traditionally by women to induce abortions. The tea contains rutin, along with other active substances. In extreme cases, Rue tea use for abortion led to multiple organ system failure and serious health risks [25, 26, 27].
Both rutin and vitamin C are strong antioxidants. In one study, a lower concentration of vitamin C enhanced the antioxidant effects of rutin. But with higher vitamin C doses, this benefit was reduced .
It may also affect liver enzymes and reduce levels of sedative drugs like phenobarbital or synthetic hormones [4+].
Rutin Foods & Supplements
Foods and Herbs
The main herbal sources of rutin are buckwheat, Japanese pagoda tree, and Eucalyptus. Other sources of rutin include lime tree flowers, passionflower, elderflowers, hawthorn leaves, and flowers, St. John’s Wort, and Ginkgo biloba [1, 2].
In supplement form, rutin is available as:
- Alone or in combination with vitamin C and other antioxidants
Up to 4 g/day orally was well-tolerated and effective in clinical studies, with no side effects .
Most of the commercially available supplements contain 500 mg of rutin per capsule/tablet.
There are yet to be clear dosage guidelines for rutin due to lack of clinical research.
One user found that rutin (up to four 450 mg pills per day) significantly helped her manage pain from hemorrhoids.
Another user supplemented with rutin because to reduce bruising. She found it helped a lot and also reduced the appearance of aging skin.
Limitations and Caveats
Clinical studies are lacking; it’s unknown if rutin will show the same benefits in humans as animals, and what the rutin proper dosage should be. Additional studies are needed to evaluate its safety and efficacy.