Rejoice! Quebecol, Found in Maple Syrup, May Have Anti-inflammatory Properties

A molecule in maple syrup called quebecol may have anti-inflammatory properties, according to a recent study. Lew Robertson/Getty Images

It's a cold January morning and Ned's arthritis is acting up. Instead of reaching for a bottle of ibuprofen to soothe the inflammation, Ned makes pancakes on a griddle and covers them with a generous helping of maple syrup.

OK, so that's not quite the outcome researchers may have imagined when they discovered a molecule in maple syrup that could someday treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. But maybe it's not so far-fetched, either.

Straight from the tree? Sure, you could dress your pancakes that way.
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As it turns out, this maple syrup molecule — known as quebecol — could become a prize-fighter when it comes to knocking out inflammation.

Quebecol occurs as the result of chemical reactions during the maple syrup cooking process, and researchers at the Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada, have been studying the molecule and its potential uses. As outlined in a recent article in the journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, the researchers took synthesized quebecol and introduced the molecules and its derivatives to blood cells filled with bacterial toxins that cause inflammation.

The researchers discovered quebecol molecules lessened the inflammatory responses in the blood cells. Even more promising, some quebecol derivatives were even more potent than the original quebecol molecules themselves.

"This paves the way for a whole new class of anti-inflammatory agents inspired by quebecol," Normand Voyer, a chemist who supervised the research, says in a press release. "That could compensate for the low efficacy of certain treatments while reducing the risk of side effects."

While there's no word yet on whether the molecule is potent only when extracted, there's little harm for achy ol' Ned in upping his daily dose of maple syrup a reasonable amount — just in case. Maybe one day we'll have doctors saying, "Take two pancakes and call me in the morning."