The Power of Apigenin

Apigenin - Dr. Axe

What do chamomile, oranges and beer have in common? They each provide the flavonoid apigenin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

The bioflavonoid has gained attention after researchers reported on its low toxicity and beneficial bioactivities.

It’s present in many fruits, vegetables and herbs as the most widely distributed flavonoid in the plant kingdom. Apigenin benefits are plentiful, ranging from improving brain and heart health to easing anxiety.

Thankfully, it can consumed easily in your everyday diet, so everyone can take advantage of this health-promoting compound.

What Is Apigenin?

Apigenin is a flavonoid that’s widely distributed in the plant kingdom. It acts as a free-radical scavenger and antioxidant that diminishes oxidative stress.

It’s a glycoside, which is a term referring to molecules that are connected to sugar molecules.

Flavonoids are a class of naturally occurring phytochemicals in plant tissues. They play a protective role in plants against pathogens and sunlight radiation. They also help attract pollinators and regulate plant metabolism.

Apigenin Benefits

Apigenin is known to offer a range of health benefits, from supporting heart and brain health to promoting healthier skin. Most of the studies involving the flavonoid use animal models, but they highlight the potential mechanisms and benefits of this plant nutrient.

1. Works as an Antioxidant

Flavonoids are widely known for their antioxidant properties, and a number of studies show that apigenin, in particular, has significant antioxidant effects. It’s also an effective anti-inflammatory agent compared to other flavonoids.

Because of its antioxidant effects, the flavone is used to promote healthy aging and utilized to boost skin health. Topical apigenin is even used to fight acne and promote skin cell growth.

2. Has Antimicrobial Effects

Reports suggest that apigenin has “reverse antibiotic” activities against some bacteria, which means that it may be active against antibiotic-resistant bacteria and help reverse bacterial resistance. Researchers believe that the phytonutrient could be a candidate as a new antibiotic or as a dietary supplement to enhance the performance of antibiotics.

The nutrient also has proved to inhibit multiple viruses, including herpes; hepatitis C; influenza; hand, foot and mouth disease; and African swine fever.

3. Reduces Pain

Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, apigenin is able to reduce pain and discomfort related to inflammatory issues. This includes pain from digestive problems, infections, immune responses and migraine pain.

The flavonoid has been shown to decrease the release of cytokines, which can overproduce and lead to disease.

4. Supports Heart Health

Apigenin supports cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure and inflammation. Animal models show that it has cardioprotective effects in rats with heart damage.

One animal study found that apigenin protected rats against heart attack by reducing edema, cell death and oxidative stress.

5. Boosts Brain Function

Apigenin has neuroprotective effects.

Research published in Neural Regeneration Research found that apigenin has cognition-enhancing effects because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In mice with Alzheimer’s disease, it was able to improve memory and learning deficits, and in humans it suppressed inflammatory mediators.

6. Eases Anxiety and Depression

This flavone is known for its relaxing and sedative effects. It has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, helping prevent the body’s response to chronic stress.

This explains why chamomile tea can have beneficial effects on anxiety and help aid relaxation and sleep.

Apigenin also has been shown to improve depression in rodents. Treatment with the flavone was able to elevate immobility time in mice that were induced by chronic corticosterone treatment.

7. Fights Diabetes

Animal studies suggest that apigenin improves insulin resistance and can be helpful for people with diabetes. One report found that the flavone improved impaired glucose tolerance and significantly decreased insulin resistance.

8. Works as an Anticancer Agent

Several experimental and biological studies suggest that apigenin works as an anticancer agent. A report published in Phytotherapy Research found that the flavonoid exhibits cell growth arrest and apoptosis in many types of tumors, including lung, liver, colon, prostate, pancreatic, breast, skin, blood and cervical.

Anticancer research further explores how apigenin plays a role in several cancer signaling pathways and should generate interest as a possible chemotherapeutic modality due to its low toxicity and effects on normal versus cancerous cells.

9. May Increase Testosterone

Lab studies suggest that apigenin plays a role in testosterone synthesis and blocks signaling of testosterone repressing proteins.

Because of its potential impact on hormone levels, it has become more popular to use apigenin for bodybuilding efforts. In this case, apigenin supplements are used to increase testosterone and potentially block estrogen production.

This may help with muscle growth, strength and energy levels.

Risks and Side Effects

Apigenin is considered safe when consumed in normal amounts through a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and herbs. If you experience stomach discomfort after consuming chamomile extract, which is sometimes taken for its high levels of apigenin, then discontinue use immediately.

Topicals containing the nutrient may cause skin irritations in some people, so if you experience any adverse reaction, stop using the product.

More research is needed to fully understand the safety of high apigenin doses. Before using extracts or supplements for a health condition, speak to your health care provider.

Foods and Supplements

It’s easy to get this powerful nutrient in foods. In fact, it’s present in fruits, vegetables, herbs and beverages that many of us already consume regularly.

Apigenin foods and beverages include the following:

  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • spinach
  • celery
  • onions
  • oranges
  • kumquats
  • rutabagas
  • chamomile
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • tarragon
  • passion flower
  • spearmint
  • basil
  • tea
  • beer
  • wine

Drinking chamomile tea and adding dried parsley to recipes are two of the best ways to consume the flavonoid.

The specific amount of apigenin that should be consumed in a day is up for debate, with studies showing varying recommendations. We know that a diet high in flavonoids has several beneficial health effects, but dietary intake values for specific compounds have not been solidified.

One study conducted in the Netherlands unearthed that 23 milligrams of flavonoids per day is a healthy dosage for adults, while others suggest that the dietary intake of the antioxidants is closer to one gram as glycosides. Studies also indicate that the actual daily intake of apigenin ranges from 0.69 to three milligrams per day.

Higher doses of the flavone can have anti-anxiety and sedative effects, but more research is recommended on increased doses. Increased doses are also used for increasing testosterone.

Apigenin supplements contain much higher doses of nutrient than would typically be consumed naturally through dietary sources. Sometimes, several flavonoids are found in one supplement, such as those containing both quercetin and apigenin.


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