Coronavirus myth busted: Kalonji seeds do not have hydroxychloroquine and will not prevent COVID-19
Not only does Nigella sativa not contain hydroxychloroquine, but also there isn’t strong evidence that hydroxychloroquine aids antiviral activity in humans.
COVID-19 has taken more than 88,000 lives globally and 166 in India so far. Despite a lot of the information about the virus being available publicly, the myths and misinformation still seem to be making their rounds.
The latest myth circulating on the social media platforms says that kalonji (Nigella sativa) seeds contain 100% hydroxychloroquine and hence are really effective in preventing COVID-19. The message goes on to explain the right quantity of kalonji seeds to take - 7 grams - with honey and warm water before breakfast.
Not only does Nigella sativa not contain hydroxychloroquine, but also there isn’t strong evidence so far that hydroxychloroquine aids antiviral activity in humans.
Here is what we know about both Nigella sativa and hydroxychloroquine so far.
Nigella sativa (kalonji seeds)
Kalonji seeds are used as a flavouring agent in dishes and are known for its many health-building properties. The oil extracted from these seeds is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and compounds like thymol, thymohydroquinone (THQ), dithymoquinone, thymoquinone (TQ), nigellidine and nigellicine, which impart antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to the seeds.
Studies show that nigella seeds can provide relief from a runny nose, sneezing and congestion in patients with seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are caused when a person’s body has an allergic response to things like dust, pollen and pet dander.
A study done in Algeria indicated that the compounds nigellidine and alpha-hederin may be effective against SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, it is just one lab study and many more studies including clinical trials would be needed to say for sure that these compounds and hence nigella seeds are indeed effective against COVID-19. The study is still in the preprint phase.
Of all the possible drugs candidates for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine has recently been getting a lot of attention from the world. US President Donald Trump even called it a game-changer against COVID-19.
Hydroxychloroquine is actually an antimalaria drug, which has been studied for its antiviral effects for a while now. According to a Lancet study, the drug has shown to be effective against a number of viruses in lab studies. This includes the coronavirus and influenza virus. However, scientists have not been able to replicate the results in humans so far. There aren’t even enough animal studies to show that this drug can be an effective anti-viral agent.
Previously, some reports from China and a small study from France had shown hydroxychloroquine to be highly effective against COVID-19. Recently though, another small study conducted in France claimed that there was no evidence of hydroxychloroquine being effective in patients who have severe COVID-19.
Experts suggest that more studies need to be done to get confirmatory evidence.
For more information, read our article on COVID-19 Myths and the Truth About Them.
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