Black Seed Oil as a treatment for Cancer
Cancer is one of the major threats of modern life, sadly millions of people die every year from different types of cancer despite tremendous efforts to find methods of control and cure. Cancer depending on what form of cancer, in the most basic explanation is cells gone wrong, the cause is most often not discovered neither is it understood which of the malignant cancers are the ones to be most worried about. The current chemotherapy/radiotherapy regime used to treat cancer shows adverse side effect and may alter gene functions. Natural products are generally safe, effective, and less expensive substitutes of anticancer chemotherapeutics. Based on previous studies of their potential therapeutic uses, Nigella Sativa/ Black Seed and its constituents are proving to be good therapeutic options in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Nigella Sativa/ Black Seed has been used as traditional medicine for centuries. The crude oil extracted from its seed harbours potent active anti-oxidants or super phytochemicals, namely thymoquinone (TQ), thymol, thymohydroquinone (THQ) and dithymoquinone which are not found in any other plant, and are effective against many diseases like cancer, cardiovascular complications, diabetes, asthma, kidney disease etc. Research had shown it to be very effective against cancer in blood system, lung, kidney, liver, prostate, breast, cervix, and skin with great success. These super phytochemicals are antifungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that have tumor-reducing properties individually and collectively, when all are combined, they have the ability to inhibit over 30 different pathogens (bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease).
Recent studies have shown that the Thymoquinone in Black Seed Oil can influence programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in several types of cancer cell. These include brain cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer cells. The anti-cancer effects are so numerous that a scientific paper published in the Journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics suggests that Thymoquinone “could be used as a potential drug candidate for cancer therapy”. Black Seeds are also a rich source of essential fatty acids vital to nurture our immune system, and have been shown to boost Natural Killer (NK) cells as well as cytotoxic T-cells which play a key role in attacking cancer cells. These potent seeds have heart protective qualities and have a healing effect on various other chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies, dermatitis, eczema as well as digestive issues such as colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) and even ulcers.
Tests showed Thymoquinone to have these effects on various types of cancer cells (breast, prostate, colon, skin, lung oesophageal, pancreatic, ovarian, cervical and blood). Thymoquinone works on a genetic level and interferes by stopping DNA mutations, a direct pathway to cancer. It has also been shown to downregulate (reduce the activity) of two genes associated with cancer cell survival. Other studies showed that Thymoquinone blocked cellular receptors for the hormone androgen that can fuel prostate cancer growth.
Additionally, Black Seed Oil extract (Thymoquinone) has been shown to decrease the production of the tumor growth factor FGF (fibroblastic growth factor). It stops cancerous cells from proliferation (dividing and replicating) to metastasis (moving away from initial tumor site and spreading), it can stop angiogenesis (when tumors attract new blood vessels), it can set off apoptosis (cell death), improve the effectiveness, and even reduce the toxicity of, chemotherapy drugs. Moreover, Thymoquinone was found to sensitize tumor cells, making them more receptive to the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy. It was found that the administration of Black Seed Oil can lower the toxicity of other anticancer drugs (for example, cyclophosphamide) by an up-regulation of antioxidant mechanisms, indicating a potential clinical application for these agents to minimize the toxic effects of treatment with anticancer drugs.
The anti-cancer activities of Nigella Sativa/ Black Seed components were recognized thousands of years ago but proper scientific research with this important traditional medicine is a very recent story. To date, a number of studies showed that Black Seed and its active component have revealed a remarkable natural therapy for treatment of cancer. Furthermore, when combined with different conventional chemotherapeutic agents, they synergize the effects which may reduce the dosage of the concomitantly used medicines and optimizing efficacy as opposed to toxicity. More research works should be emphasized behind this because Nigella Sativa/ Black Seed is a safe and promising anticancer agent.
Arshad H., et al., (2014) Therapeutic Implications of Black Seed and Its Constituent Thymoquinone in the Prevention of Cancer through Inactivation and Activation of Molecular Pathways.
Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines
Schleicher, P. & Saleh, M., (2000) Black Cumin: The Magical Egyptian Herb for Allergies, Asthma, and Immune Disorders.