black seed (Nigella sativa) improves recovery and hospitalization from COVID-19

Several computer simulation studies have explained why this herb could help fight COVID. Now two human studies show that it really could.

Nigella sativa, or black seed as it is more commonly known, may fight COVID in several ways. It has several components that can attach to cell receptors and potentially inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication (Curr Ther Res 2020;93:100602; Coronaviruses 2020;1:1). The thymoquinone in black seed may inhibit proteases the virus uses to facilitate attachment to your cells (Curr Drug Discov Technol 2020 Jul 12; doi:10.2174/1570163817666200712164406), and, most importantly, it binds to ACE2 receptors, the receptors the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID uses to get into your cells (Infect Dis Ther 2021 Mar ;10(1):483-494).

Researchers have pointed out that the thymoquinone in black seed has antiviral effects against COVID that prevent infection and entry into your cells, it is sufficiently anti-inflammatory to tamp down cytokine storms, it can protect against respiratory symptoms and lung injury and it is an antioxidant that can protect against the multiple organ dysfunction of COVID, including the liver, kidney and gastrointestinal tract.

An intriguing placebo-controlled study published at the end of 2020 that included 313 people with moderate to severe COVID found that a combination of black seed and honey helped them get over their symptoms significantly faster and test negative faster. Most importantly, while 18.87% of the placebo group had died by day 30, only 4% of the black seed and honey group had.

A just published study has now added important evidence for the promise of black seed.

In this unblinded, controlled study, 173 people with mild COVID symptoms either received usual care for COVID or were also given 500mg of black seed oil twice a day for 10 days.

Black seed helped more people recover: a significantly greater 62% of the black seed group recovered within 14 days compared to only 36% of the control group. People who recovered also recovered significantly faster with black seed: 10.7 days versus 12.4 days. Even though their symptoms at the start of the study were mild, 4 people in the control group (4.6%) had to be hospitalized due to disease complications while only one (1.1%) in the black seed group had to be hospitalized.

All of this evidence is adding to the promise of black seed for treating COVID.

Complement Ther Med 2021 Aug 15;61:102769

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