Black Cumin

Nigella sativa has been used as traditional medicine for many years. In old Latin, it was called “Panacea,” meaning “cure-all” because of all its benefits. It comes from a small plant with pale purple, blue, or white flowers in Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and the Middle East. It is known as black seeds, kalonji, Hak Jung Chou, or black cumin.

It has been demonstrated to be immunomodulatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic, and hepatoprotective effects in preclinical studies. One of the compounds of Nigella sativa is thymoquinone, an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and anti-tumor component. It has been shown to be effective against cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, and kidney disease; it can decrease low-density cholesterol levels and also be effective against cancer in the blood system, lung, kidney, liver, prostate, breast, cervix, and skin in a safety way. Thymoquinone has also enhanced the anticancer effects of doxorubicin in certain cancer cell lines, and when injected, it protects against radiation-induced tissue damage in murine.

One of the possible mechanisms of action for its anticancer effect is through improving the body’s defense system, inducing apoptosis, and controlling the Akt pathway. Many studies have been made showing the benefits and effects of Nigella sativa. For example: in 2005 by El-Mahdy et al. they found the derivatives induce apoptosis associated with DNA laddering, a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential, and a slight increase in reactive oxygen species. Salim and Fukushima demonstrated it could inhibit colon carcinogenesis in rats with no evident adverse effects. Chehl et al. suggested thymoquinone as a novel inhibitor of pro-inflammatory pathways. Mabrouk et al. showed that supplementation of diet with honey and Nigella sativa has a protective effect against oxidative stress, inflammatory response, and carcinogenesis in the lung, skin, and colon.

To synthesize the known possible mechanisms of action of thymoquinone and why it is a good supplement in cancer are the protection of cytochrome p450 enzymes from environmental damage, cellular protection from radiation, therefore, cell protection from cancer,  production of interleukins 6 and 8, control of oncogene expression leading to cancer control, and apoptosis promotion.