No Data to Support: Experts on Claims Kalonji Seeds Cure COVID-19
Experts said that neither do Kalonji seeds contain HCQ nor is there any data to prove that they can cure COVID-19.
India has partially lifted a ban on export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), paving the way for its supply to the US and several other countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. According to US President Donald Trump, the drug is yielding positive results. If successful, he said that it would be a gift from heaven.
Now, a viral message on social media claims that HCQ is found 100 percent in Kalonji seeds (Nigella sativa). It further advises to take half a teaspoon of the seeds with honey as a preventive measure against the novel coronavirus. Some users have shared a NDTV article with the headline: 10 Incredible Health Benefits Of Kalonji (Nigella Seeds), along with the message.
The message is being widely circulated on Facebook and Twitter.
TRUE OR FALSE?
The claim being made in the social media posts lacks medical evidence. Experts told The Quint that neither do Kalonji seeds contain hydroxychloroquine nor is there scientific data to prove that the seeds can cure COVID-19.
The NDTV article that is being shared with the message dates back to 2018, which talks about the benefits of consuming Kalonji seeds which includes: strengthening immunity, protecting kidney, joint pain, blood pressure fluctuation among others.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We found a study published in April with the title: Identification of Compounds from Nigella Sativa as New Potential Inhibitors of 2019 Novel Coronasvirus (Covid-19): Molecular Docking Study”
However, the conclusion of the study suggests that there needs to be more tests to establish conclusive results.
“Those results encourage further in vitro and in vivo investigations and also encourage traditional use of Nigella sativa preventively,” the conclusion mentions.
Commenting on the study, Dr Shaheed Jameel, a leading virologist, asked how can a study be conclusive when it is itself recommending further testing.
Explaining the meaning of in vitro and in vivo investigations, he said, “ In vivo means inside a body while in vitro in a layman terminology would be outside the body like in a test tube.”
“Kalonji seeds do not have hydroxychloroquine. Natural herbs have a broad spectrum. Whether it can cure COVID-19 or not, is not something that I have heard of being clinically tested and proven,” he said on claims about Kalonji seeds as a potential cure for the novel virus.
Meanwhile, Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant – Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital told The Quint that even hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 is not 100 percent certain. He further said that there is no data to back up the claim that kalonji can treat COVID-19.
“Even hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 is not totally clear. It is being used because there are some evidences and results which have shown that HCQ has been helpful in the treatment. When HCQ itself is not clear, how can anybody claim about kalonji, whether it has HCQ or not, as a cure for COVID-19.”Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant – Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital
An advisory released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the recommendations of ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), said that HCQ is found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies.
However, its usage is advised to asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases.
We also found a study published in National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) which is a part of US’ National Institutes of Health that mentioned that chloroquine (anti-malarial drug), when mixed with Nigella sativa seeds, is effective in managing malaria in mice.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF NIGELLA SATIVA
Another report by NCBI mentioned that the ingredients of Nigella Sativa seeds include fixed oil, proteins, alkaloid, saponin and essential oil.
The report further mentions that Nigella Sativa have a wide range of therapeutic effects against ailments such as skin diseases, jaundice, gastrointestinal problems, anorexia, conjunctivitis, dyspepsia, rheumatism, diabetes, hypertension, intrinsic hemorrhage, paralysis, amenorrhea, anorexia, asthma, cough, bronchitis, headache, fever, influenza and eczema.
The seeds have thymoquinone (TQ) which is one of the active components and most of the pharmacological effects of the Nigella Sativa seeds are due to quinine constituent.
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