Australian researchers have found that seeds of the plant, Nigella sativa, better known as Kalonji, could be utilised in the treatment of COVID-19 infection. Black seed oil is extracted from Nigella sativa seeds and has been used in traditional medicine for over 2,000 years due to its many therapeutic benefits.
The flowering plant, native to north Africa and western Asia, has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for multiple medical conditions, including inflammation and infections. A team from the University of Technology in Sydney found an active ingredient of Nigella sativa can prevent the SARS-CoV-2, the virus leading to COVID-19, from causing a lung infection.
“There is growing evidence from modelling studies that thymoquinone, an active ingredient of Nigella sativa, more commonly known as the fennel flower, can stick to the COVID-19 virus spike protein and stop the virus from causing a lung infection,” said lead author Kaneez Fatima Shad, Professor at the varsity.
“It may also block the ‘cytokine’ storm that affects seriously ill patients who are hospitalised with COVID-19,” Shad added.
The study is published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology.
Thymoquinone has been extensively studied in laboratories, including animal studies. These studies have shown that it can moderate the immune system in a good way, by preventing pro-inflammation chemicals such as interleukins from being released.
This gives thymoquinone a potential role as a treatment for allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema, arthritis conditions including rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, and even possibly multiple sclerosis.
The study details the mechanisms of action of Nigella sativa and thymoquinone and how they are a promising future treatment of COVID-19 infection. There have been many barriers to the development of Nigella sativa as a therapeutic agent in large part due to its poor natural gastrointestinal absorption.
“Advances in pharmacological development such as nanotechnology have seen the chance to overcome this barrier to enable its use as an effective oral medication. Furthermore, the drug has recently been successfully given to patients as a nasal spray and topical paste,” said co-author Dr Wissam Soubra, from the varsity.
Nigella sativa has been shown to be helpful in treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes mellitus. As an anti-inflammatory treatment, it has also been found to help patients with allergic rhinitis and sinusitis, eczema, osteoarthritis and childhood epilepsy.
It has also been proven to be effective in a laboratory environment in killing bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus that can cause a range of mild to severe infections if they enter the skin, and viruses including influenza.
Another study from Saudi Arabia evaluated the effectiveness of black seed oil as a supplement in patients with mild COVID-19 who were between 18 and 65 years. The intervention group received 500 mg of soft gel capsules twice daily for 10 days in addition to their standard treatment.
Initial results were published on Clinical Trials. The primary outcome measurement was the percentage of participants who showed clinical recovery within 14 days after treatment began. The team reported 62.1% of those receiving the black seed oil demonstrated recovery from mild COVID-19 while 36% of the control group recovered within 14 days.
Black Seed Oil and COVID-19 studies
As of November 2021, there are 4 published clinical studies of nigella sativa for treatment and prevention of COVID-19 (c19ns.com). Nigella sativa is even higher than ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine in this COVID-19 drug league table for ‘all mortality (death) results’:
Consider Black Seed Oil for Short-Term Use to Reduce Health Risk
The Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) lists black seed oil as an alternative for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. They stress there is no “magic bullet” for COVID-19, yet:
“… a number of therapeutic agents have shown great promise for both the prevention and treatment of this disease including Ivermectin, Vitamin D, quercetin, melatonin, fluvoxamine, corticosteroids, curcumin (turmeric), Nigella sativa and antiandrogen therapy.”
The team recommends taking N. sativa with honey as they both have antimicrobial, antiviral, immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects with proven safety profiles. They list N. sativa and honey in the prevention protocol for children and adolescents, and as an alternative for first-line treatment in the early treatment protocol at home.
While short-term use of black seed oil may be efficacious in the treatment of COVID-19, long-term use for prevention may have other unwanted effects. One study of the chemical composition of black seed oil shows that the majority of fatty acids are from linoleic acid, an omega-6 polyunsaturated fat or (PUFA).