When it comes to the many medical problems out there that can have a debilitating impact on your life, autoimmune conditions are among the trickiest. How can you heal from a disease when it’s your body’s own protective mechanisms attacking you? Scientists are hopeful that a compound called taxifolin may help (

Taxifolin is also known as dihydroquercetin. It belongs to what are known as the flavanols, a subclass of flavonoids found in plants. Plants from which taxifolin can be extracted include milk thistle and Siberian larch, but it’s present in varying levels in different types of vinegar, beverages and food. Researchers have looked at taxifolin for a wide range of potential medical uses, including in cancer treatment.

A study at Blue California, a technology company, looked specifically at how taxifolin could impact lupus. Lupus is one of the most well-known of the autoimmune conditions, although that isn’t saying much. It’s still poorly understood and there’s no cure. It can affect different organs in different ways and leaves you prone to a variety of complications, some of them potentially fatal.

White blood cells known as neutrophils release something called neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) as they die. NETs can defend us from the unwelcome microorganisms that sometimes try to invade our bodies, but for people with lupus, they’re often present at excessive levels. This can lead to inflammation, which is often a significant part of many autoimmune conditions. The inflammation then becomes a major aggravating force in the development of age-related disease and other health problems.

Researchers explored the way that NETs are formed. They took neutrophils from healthy study participants, then added the autoantibodies obtained from people with lupus, causing NET levels to rise. When taxifolin joined the mix, the production of NETs by neutrophils was inhibited and returned to healthier levels.

Blue California plans to conduct more studies into the potential impact of taxifolin, not just on lupus but on other autoimmune conditions, and on aging and its related diseases. For example, taxifolin could have an impact on antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), an autoimmune disorder that causes an increased risk of blood clots and is particularly dangerous during pregnancy.

There’s still a lot of research to be done to understand the full implications of taxifolin as a treatment for lupus, but if it proves effective, it could easily be taken as a regular supplement.

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