Science of Spices and Culinary Herbs - Latest Laboratory, Pre-clinical, and Clinical Studies

Volume: 5

Black Cumin Seeds: From Ancient Medicine to Current Clinical Trials

Author(s): Toktam Akaberi, Maryam Akaberi, Faegheh Farhadi and Seyed Ahmad Emami *

Pp: 27-59 (33)

DOI: 10.2174/9789814998154121050004

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Black cumin seeds are the seeds from Nigella sativa (Ranunculaceae), an annual flowering plant native to southwest Asia. Traditionally, the seeds or the oil from them have been used for a range of health problems, particularly diabetes, digestive diseases, arthritis, and asthma, as well as a food additive and spice. Laboratory studies have shown that the seeds of N. sativa have anti-diabetic, anti-hyperlipidemic, anticonvulsant, anti-microbial, anti-hypertensive, anti-asthmatic and anti-cancer activities. It has also been proven to possess analgesic and wound healing properties. These seeds are also of clinical interest, especially for metabolic disorders, as they have the ability to reduce fat body contents and have beneficial effects on hypertension and diabetes. In addition, many clinical trials are ongoing to investigate the effects of black cumin seeds for the treatment of infertility, cancer, asthma, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and arthritis rheumatoid. The mode of action of black cumin seeds is mostly mediated via anti-oxidant, immunomodulatory, cytoprotective and antiinflammatory mechanisms. The most important bioactive constituents of black cumin seeds are essential oils, including thymoquinone and alkaloids, including pyrazole alkaloids such as nigellidine and nigellicine, and isoquinoline alkaloids such as nigellimine-N-oxide. The aim of the current chapter is to review the chemical, botanical, and pharmacological studies as well as the clinical potential of black cumin seeds.

Keywords: Asthma, Black cumin seeds, Metabolic syndrome, Nigella sativa, Ranunculaceae, Thymoquinone.

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