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What is Rutin?

By M. Marquardt
Updated Feb 22, 2024
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Rutin is a bioflavonoid, or plant pigment, that is found in various foods such as buckwheat and citrus fruits. In the native plant, rutin helps give plants their color. In its pure form, its color can vary from yellow to yellow-green. For humans and animals, it sometimes is used for anti-inflammatory treatments and to repair weakened blood vessels.

Rutin was discovered because of its apparent ability to strengthen blood vessels. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a biochemist from Hungary, reported during the 1930s that something in citrus fruits was helping bolster weakened blood vessels. Originally, vitamin C was thought to be the strengthening component, but Szent-Gyorgyi’s research eliminated the common compound as a candidate. It took several years and several other research groups to finally identify the compound responsible for the strengthening capillary walls.

Despite the work with blood vessels, there has not been enough research done to know with certainly that rutin can be used as an effective drug on its own. Some initial studies have shown that the bioflavonoid might be identified as a definite supplement to treat certain illnesses. Rutin sometimes is used to treat illnesses such as hemorrhoids and general internal bleeding. In a healthy individual, it might work as a preventative tool to stop bruising and hemorrhagic strokes that are caused by burst blood vessels within the brain.

Some studies of rutin have shown that the compound has anti-inflammatory properties. For that reason, it can be mixed into certain drug cocktails to help with forms of arthritis such as osteoarthritis. Some early tests have shown that rutin might also have some preventative effects on certain types of cancer as well as helping to treat some of the inflammatory side effects of cancer treatments.

Other studies have shown that rutin might help control chylothorax in cats. Chylothorax is a pleural effusion, meaning that it is a buildup of fluids around the lungs. This buildup of fluids can impair breathing.

Rutin ingestion tends not to have side effects. If they do appear, they normally are mild. They can include headaches, upset stomach and rashes.

Sources of the bioflavonoid include buckwheat, oranges, apples, St. John’s wort, elder flowers, rue, ginkgo biloba and the leaves of plants such as eucalyptus and hawthorn. Though not technically vitamins, rutin and other flavonoids sometimes are referred to as vitamin P or citrin. Rutin also is commonly called rutoside.

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