Flavonoids are essential phytochemical constituents with numerous beneficial properties for health improvement. Some of the most common natural flavonoids found in dietary supplements are myricetin, quercetin, luteolin, and apigenin.
Apigenin confers powerful health benefits, including supporting heart health, boosting brain function, relieving depression, promoting sleep, increasing testosterone levels, preventing cancer, increasing insulin secretion, and strengthening the bones.
Apigenin supplements (mainly in the form of standardized chamomile extract) can be consumed with other compounds to improve their effectiveness.
Aside from chamomile, apigenin is highly abundant in parsley, which can contain up to 215 mg per 100 grams.
Apigenin is generally considered safe to consume, even at high levels. In rare cases, minor side effects may occur, such as allergic reactions and stomach-related issues.
Among these flavonoids, apigenin has gained increased attention due to its relatively low intrinsic toxicity, complemented by its beneficial bioactivities.
From reducing anxiety to improving sleep, enhancing testosterone synthesis to preventing chronic diseases, apigenin has much to offer. In this article, we'll review the top eight benefits of apigenin based on scientific evidence.
What is apigenin?
Apigenin is a naturally occurring flavonoid, most notably found in chamomile and many vegetables, fruits, and medicinal plants. It is known for its numerous health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties.
Studies have shown that apigenin may also have antianxiety, antidepressant, and sleep-promoting effects, as well as supporting immune function and improving cognitive function. Because of its potential therapeutic benefits, apigenin is an active area of research in natural medicine and functional medicine.
An overview of apigenin benefits
Apigenin is one of the most renowned phenolic compounds with many beneficial properties, and it is available in nutraceutical formulations and dietary supplements.
Here are some of the most notable benefits of apigenin:
1. Supports heart health
Apigenin has been demonstrated to alleviate cardiovascular conditions by preserving the vascular lining in the aorta. It also induced the direct reduction of blood pressure by inhibiting of the activity of the angiotensin-converting enzyme, preventing blood vessel constriction.
According to studies, the habitual intake of flavonoids and a diet rich in apigenin leads to decreased incidence of hypertension, resulting in the reduction of cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, apigenin-rich olive extracts can improve endothelial dysfunction, suggesting a cardio protective effect of apigenin.
2. Boosts brain function
Several natural bioactive compounds have been implicated in improving learning and memory. Various clinical trials have shown the therapeutic potential of apigenin as a neuroprotective agent.
Apigenin is a promising candidate for treating and preventing different neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability to reduce oxidative stress and improve cognitive function.
3. Relieves depression
Apigenin also possesses antidepressant and antianxiety effects by selectively inhibiting the brain's monoamine oxidases (MAOs), enzymes that break down neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Increased brain MAO activity is associated with several psychiatric/neurological disorders, such as depression and anxiety. By inhibiting MAOs, apigenin may exert an anti-depression effect.
A clinical trial has shown administering apigenin-rich chamomile extracts to individuals with depression and anxiety resulted in a significantly higher reduction in total Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) score, which assesses the severity of depression symptoms in individuals.
4. Aids sleep
Insomnia is a troublesome sleep disorder that can negatively impact one’s overall health and well-being. Apigenin has a well-documented sedative effect, and may induce a positive and restorative activity against insomnia. It may also enhance GABA activity, a neurotransmitter that has calming effects in the brain, and promote the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
In one clinical trial involving the elderly, apigenin successfully exhibited sleep-potentiating effects. Upon administration of apigenin-rich chamomile extract, the participants' sleep quality significantly improved.
5. May increase testosterone
Testosterone is a hormone primarily generated in males’ testes. Low testosterone can affect sleep, mood, bone mass, and the size of testicles. It can also reduce sex drive and may lead to erectile dysfunction.
Apigenin can potentially improve testosterone production and may even delay lowering testosterone levels due to aging. Experimental studies have previously demonstrated increased testosterone production from apigenin treatment. Further, the apigenin-induced increase in testosterone levels can also help promote muscle mass gain.
6. Prevents cancer
Apigenin has striking effects against cancerous cells while remaining non-toxic to normal cells. Apigenin is a potentially effective therapy against different types of cancer.
One study showed apigenin could effectively suppress prostate cancer progression by targeting a carcinogenesis-required signaling pathway. Regular apigenin intake is also implicated in having protective roles in the context of lung and ovarian cancer. Experts suggest apigenin can be used as a chemotherapeutic agent in combination with immunotherapy.
7. Increases insulin secretion
Apigenin also possesses anti-diabetic properties due to its capacity to lower blood glucose levels and increase insulin secretion.
In addition, apigenin can inhibit α-glucosidase activity. The α-glucosidase enzyme catalyzes the conversion of the big carbohydrate molecules from food into small glucose units, raising the blood sugar level. Since apigenin can inhibit it, it can help delay the digestion of carbohydrates, preventing high blood sugar levels.
8. Strengthens bones
Apigenin may also be useful in treating and preventing several bone loss disorders, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, through its ability to accelerate bone fracture healing, new bone formation, and increase bone mineral density.
In patients with knee osteoarthritis, molecular evidence indicates apigenin can inhibit the molecules that degrade the components of the cartilage extracellular matrix, conferring a protective effect.
What foods contain apigenin?
Apigenin is most commonly associated with chamomile, but is also ubiquitous and abundant in other food products. Apigenin is present in at least 506 food components, where fresh parsley can contain the highest average amount.
Other food products that are rich in apigenin include:
|Parsley||This herb is one of the richest sources of apigenin and can provide up to 215 mg per 100 grams.|
|Chamomile||Chamomile tea is a popular herbal beverage, with apigenin concentrations varying depending on the brewing method and brand.|
|Celery||Another good source of apigenin is celery, with up to 21 mg per 100 grams.|
|Orange||Oranges and orange juice contain small amounts of apigenin, with about 2–3 mg per 100 grams.|
|Onion||Both red and yellow onions are good sources of apigenin, with concentrations ranging from 6 to 30 mg per 100 grams.|
|Spinach||Contains about 1–2 mg apigenin per 100 grams.|
|Thyme||This herb is a good source of apigenin, with up to 16 mg per 100 grams.|
|Cilantro||Cilantro or coriander leaves contain about 4 mg apigenin per 100 grams.|
Taking apigenin in supplements
The recommended dietary intake value for apigenin is not established. According to reports, apigenin intake from a regular daily diet doesn't reach the therapeutic doses used in clinical trials.
A typical formulation for apigenin supplements is prepared in 50 mg capsules with standardized apigenin content of about 20%. Intake of one to two capsules is recommended per day, one before sleep and one with breakfast, and may be adjusted based on the advice of a medical practitioner.
Apigenin, mainly in the form of standardized chamomile extract, may also be combined with other dietary supplements, such as NMN, quercetin, magnesium, or threanine, for better results. For example, the recently gone-viral Huberman’s sleep cocktail is a concoction of magnesium-threonate, apigenin, and theanine taken 30–60 minutes before bedtime.
To choose an apigenin supplement, consider these factors in picking the right product for you: quality, dosage, form, other ingredients, reviews, and price.
Are there any side effects of apigenin?
Apigenin has low intrinsic toxicity and is generally safe. Dietary food and supplements containing apigenin have not been associated with debilitating health impacts.
However, increased dosage intake from dietary supplements may cause unwanted side effects. Some apigenin side effects include:
- Allergic reaction to a food source
- Skin irritation for topical products
- Nausea and diarrhea
Additionally, high doses of apigenin may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, and may cause complications for those with liver or kidney disease. As with any dietary intake, talk to a healthcare provider before taking extracts and supplements containing apigenin.
What is the best time of day to take apigenin?
In general, there is no established best time of the day to take apigenin. However, since apigenin is a sedative and anti-depressant, taking one 50 mg apigenin capsule in the evening, around 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime, is recommended to help promote relaxation and calmness, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Is apigenin good for the liver?
Yes, apigenin has been shown to have hepatoprotective properties mainly due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics. Research also claims apigenin's potential for treating liver injury induced by various chemicals and toxins, including alcohol.
Can apigenin cause hair loss?
No. On the contrary, some research suggests apigenin could promote hair growth by increasing blood flow to hair follicles, reducing inflammation, and blocking 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme associated with hair loss due to its ability to convert testosterone to DHT. Despite these promising findings, more research is necessary to determine the optimal dosage and duration of apigenin for hair growth.
- Molecules. Pharmacological Properties of 4′, 5, 7-Trihydroxyflavone (Apigenin) and Its Impact on Cell Signaling Pathways.
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences. The Therapeutic Potential of Apigenin.
- Pharmacological Research. Apigenin as neuroprotective agent: Of mice and men.
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine. The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: A clinical trial.
- Oncotarget. Apigenin enhances skeletal muscle hypertrophy and myoblast differentiation by regulating Prmt7.
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- Current Sleep Medicine Reports. Dietary Supplements for Insomnia.
- BioMed Research International. A Review on Flavonoid Apigenin: Dietary Intake, ADME, Antimicrobial Effects, and Interactions with Human Gut Microbiota.
- Inflammation. Hepatoprotective Effect of Apigenin Against Liver Injury via the Non-canonical NF-κB Pathway In Vivo and In Vitro.
- Archives of Dermatological Research. A cell-based system for screening hair growth-promoting agents.