If you're taking niacin (or Niaspan™ extended release niacin) for cholesterol, you may have already noticed the famed "niacin flush." It literally feels as though you are sunburned and itchy from the inside... intense heat and redness, followed by itching. It disappears in time, but it's miserable.
It's primarily a prostaglandin response, which means antihistamines don't work. Most doctors recommend taking aspirin about 30 minutes prior to taking your niacin which does work — it reduces or eliminates the flush about 30 percent of the time.
I discovered a more effective anti-flushing agent. Meet quercetin, a naturally-occurring bioflavonoid that acts as an anti-inflammatory. Found in citrus fruits and in apple peels, this chemical blocks the niacin flush about 90 percent of the time! And I say this as having been someone who tried it and is happy with it.
You can buy quercetin at any health food store, or even online. I take 1000mg right before my Niaspan dose of 1500mg at night.
Read the medical research abstract here.
UPDATE: a month later, I write to tell you that just as well as quercetin worked for me, it stopped working. I would wake up at 3 a.m. with itching... so I would take an aspirin. The funny thing is that after weeks of quercetin, the aspirin had this amazing effect: it worked better than it ever did before on preventing flushing. As we type this, I took 2000mg of Niaspan last night with half a 325mg tablet of aspirin, and slept like a baby. No itching that I know of.