A study published in June by the American Physiological Society showed that mice that were given the vitamin-like compound quercetin were more resistant to the flu.1 Quercetin is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables and was known to have medicinal properties prior to this study. Its structure is similar to that of resveratrol, a plant-derived vitamin that is available as a nutritional supplement.2
In the experiment, some mice were injected with quercetin, while others were left alone. Then both groups were injected with H1N1 flu virus. The result was that more of the quercetin mice resisted the flu, and those that did succumb to the virus resisted it longer than the control mice.
"Quercetin was used because of its documented widespread health benefits, which include antiviral activity, abundance in the diet and reported lack of side effects when used as a dietary supplement or food additive," said one of the investigators, Professor J. Mark Davis of the University of South Carolina.3
There are often big differences between naturally-occurring vitamins and man-made drugs. Though synthetic drugs can be great blessings in many cases, they often cause a host of side effects. Vitamins, on the other hand, are mostly side-effect free.
The difference between synthetic and natural compounds is so remarkable that pharmaceutical companies have shifted in the last few decades from lab-bench research and development to screening natural products from biologically rich and diverse places around the globe. This has been called “biopharmaceutical mining,” and it has yielded many safe, healthy, and effective pharmaceuticals—some of which may never have been invented if we had relied strictly on man-made substances.
The existence of vitamins like quercetin is consistent with the Genesis record, which informs us that the first two people on earth were specifically given fruits, vegetables, and seed-bearing plants for food,4 a cornucopia of flavors, textures, colors, and beneficial compounds.
Although God’s botanical handiwork was included in His pronouncement that the created world was “very good,”5 our current world has been altered by the effects of sin and the worldwide judgment of the Flood. These have left us with only a remnant of the former splendorous array of plant and fungus life, as we can see from the many extinct plant kinds contained in the fossil record.
But even among the remaining flora we can see the handiwork of God in vitamins like quercetin, as well as His gracious provision in making it so readily available through fruits and vegetables.
- Davis, J. M. et al. 2008. Quercetin reduces susceptibility to influenza infection following stressful exercise. American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 295 (2): R505-R509.
- Thomas, B. Resveratrol: Lapping up the Limits of Longevity. Institute for Creation Research News, posted on icr.org on June 9, 2008.
- Substance Found In Fruits And Vegetables Reduces Likelihood Of The Flu: Quercetin fights off flu in mouse study. American Physiological Society press release, September 3, 2008.
- Genesis 1:29.
- Genesis 1:31.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.
Article posted on September 9, 2008.