Nigella sativa (black seed) and honey improve symptoms and mortality of COVID-19

This may be the first herb to show promise in a COVID study. You may never have heard of it, but it’s cheap, it’s safe and it’s easily available in every health food store. And it may reduce the risk of death.

Several vitamins, including C and D, have shown important promise for COVID in studies. But this may be the first herb to reduce symptoms and prevent death in a study. The study is a placebo-controlled study, but it was not blinded, and it is not yet peer reviewed, so it awaits confirmation, but it is a potentially very important and promising study.

The study combined honey with the herb Nigella sativa, also known as black seed or black cumin. Black seed is antiviral, antiinflammatory, antioxidant and immune modulating: all of which make it an interesting candidate for COVID.

The study included 313 people who had moderate or severe COVID-19 and who were given either a placebo or a combination of honey and 80mg of black seed per kg body weight in 2-3 divided doses for up to 13 days.

The results were impressive. The people in the black seed and honey group got over their symptoms significantly faster than the placebo group. People with moderate COVID symptoms recovered from their symptoms in only 4 days versus 7 days in the placebo group; people with severe COVID symptoms recovered from their symptoms in 6 days versus 13 in the placebo group. By day 8, 98.13% of the people with moderate symptoms were asymptomatic versus 56.31% of the control group, and significantly more people with severe symptoms were now asymptomatic while the placebo group had only improved to moderately symptomatic.

There was a significant advantage for the supplement for all symptoms tested, including fever, cough, shortness of breath ad inflammation (as measured by CRP).

Whether their symptoms were moderate or severe, people in the supplement group tested negative a significant 4 days sooner than people in the placebo group.

By day 6, people on the supplement who had moderate symptoms were able to resume the activities of their daily life while people on placebo were not: the advantage was significant. By day 6, the people with severe symptoms had significantly greater chance of being discharged from hospital while those on placebo were hospitalized on supplemental oxygen. By day 10, while only 68.93% of people with moderate symptoms who were given a placebo were able to go fully back to their normal activities, 96.26% of those on black seed and honey were. Severely ill people who were given the supplement were also able to resume normal activities by day 10, while the people given the placebo still needed oxygen in the hospital.

Most importantly, while 18.87% of the placebo group had died by day 30, only 4% of the black seed and honey group had.

The researchers point out that this study suggests important benefits for this safe, natural combination over the drugs being used for COVID. In the most optimistic study of remdesivir, recovery time improved from 15 days to 10. But the honey and black seed combination improved recovery time for people with severe symptoms from 13 days to 6. As for the chance of dying from COVID if you have severe symptoms, hydroxychloroquine makes the odds worse (27% versus 25%). In the most optimistic studies, remdesivir improves the odds from 15.2% to 11.4%: combined data for remdesivir show that remdesivir does not significantly improve the chance of surviving.  Convalescent plasma antibodies improves the odds from 24% to 15.7%. But the black seed and honey treatment improved the odds from 18.87% to a much more impressive 4%. The researchers conclude that the results suggest that the natural supplement “provided clinical superiority in reducing mortality in COVID-19 patients.” They importantly add that the natural treatment is safer and cheaper.

Finally, the researchers point out that black seed has the added advantage over drugs of helping diabetes and high blood pressure and of protecting the heart and being broncho-dilating. These bonus properties mean that this natural supplement could be even more beneficial for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma who are at higher risk of dying from COVID. Black seed also protects the liver.

medRxiv November 6, 2020;

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