Covid-19: Does ‘Kalonji’ have a cure?

Dr. Shakil Moidin

Narrated Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him): I heard the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) saying: “There is healing in Black Cumin for all diseases except death.”
(Sahih Bukhari 7:71:592)

Nigella Sativa (NS) is a popularly used medicinal plant throughout the world in various traditional systems of medicine like Unani, Tibb, Ayurveda and Sidha. Native to South and West Asia, NS is also known as Black Cumin, Nigella, Kalojeere, and Kalonji. The annual flowering plant belongs to the family Ranunculaceae and is an excellent phytomedicine.

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The medicinal properties of NS also known as Al-Habba Al-Sauda and Al-Habba Al-Barakah in Arabic were mentioned by Avicenna (Ibn Sina) in his book “Canon of Medicine”.

NS is known for its diuretic, anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, immune-modulatory, antimicrobial, antihelmintic, analgesics and calming, spasmolytic, bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory, anti-tussive, gastro-protective, hepato-protective, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol decreasing, renal-protective and anti-oxidant properties.

The world is witnessing difficult times. The race against time in finding a vaccine for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is getting more challenging with every single day. Numerous papers with their initial research findings on the pathophysiology of the COVID-19 infection have given some clues to invent a cure to this pandemic.

The variety of symptoms seen in patients infected with COVID-19 shows the importance of immunomodulation in the human body. A recent study published in the Journal of Autoimmunity reported that severe cases admitted to the intensive care unit showed high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines including TNFα (Tumor necrosis factor Alpha) that are reasoned to promote disease severity.

Another study published in The Lancet on pathological findings of COVID-19 associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome reported lymphopenia as a common feature in the patients and suggested that it might be a critical factor associated with disease severity and mortality.

A letter to the editor published in Nature Medicine reported that an increased antibody-secreting cell, producing immunoglobulin M and Immunoglobulin G antibodies that bound the COVID-19 causing coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 were detected in blood before symptomatic recovery and the immunological changes persisted for at least 7 days following full resolution of symptoms.

Immune modulation is the regulatory adjustment of the immune system. Nobody knows how long will the COVID-19 situation last. Reports have suggested that one of the three methods that can prevent the infection is immune modulation; vaccine and improvement in human behaviour, personal hygiene being the others.

Scientists and doctors across the world are fighting it out. There is a cure for every disease.

Thymoquinone (TQ) is an abundant component of Nigella Sativa seed oil extract. TQ is known to inhibit TNF-α-induced inflammation. TQ is known for its lymphoprotective activity and immune modulation. Another major concern for doctors has been the effect on kidney and testes.

TQ is not only a pulmonary protective but also a nephroprotective in diseases caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. TQ is also known for its testicular protective function.

The component TQ in the seed oil of Nigella Sativa is known for its intense immune-modulatory benefits. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-modulatory actions of Nigella Sativa have resulted in preventive and bronchodilatory effects on obstructive respiratory diseases.

A study published in the Journal of Molecular Biology Reports in 2014 concluded that treatment of cells with NS extracts prior to infection with CoV decreased replication of the virus.

This is the time that doctors and scientists take note of this natural wonder and try to decelerate the COVID-19 pandemic.

TQ through immunomodulation and its other health benefits can be definitely considered to be a drug to prevent or to treat the viral infection caused by COVID-19 causing coronavirus SARS- CoV-2.

Future clinical trials conducted using TQ will unravel how exactly we can use it in the current COVID-19 pandemic state.

The author Dr. Shakil Moidin is an Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologist at the Al Rass Dental College, Qassim University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He can be reached at

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