Black seed: An excellent nutraceutical for brain function

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Black Seed is a long known nutraceutical that possesses natural healing properties against many ailments and has been used for several thousand years. The seed is obtained from the annual flowering plant of family Ranunculaceae with botanical name of Nigella sativa. Black Seed is aromatic, bitter in taste, rich in nutritional and therapeutic values and contains carbohydrates, fats, proteins and minerals in balanced amounts. In biomedical literature, over 536 research papers on "Black Seed" have been published to date. Black Seed's nutritional and therapeutic values have mostly been attributed to thymoquinone, nigellone and melatin in restoring hormonal balance, enhancing immune function and reducing inflammation including other human health benefits. Most importantly, consistent use of Black Seed significantly improves brain function associated with cognitive function, depression, epilepsy, memory and also prevents inflammation because they are especially loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for protecting nervous system against any neuronal injury and/or disorders. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the science behind the miraculous effects and modern uses of Black Seed.

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Optimum condition for Nigella sativa seeds oil and its bioactive compound, thymoquinone (TQ) using supercritical fluid carbon dioxide extraction (SCFE-CO2), were investigated. The optimization process was performed with Taguchi method and full factorial design (FFD) under the following condition: pressure (150, 200 and 250 bar), temperatures (40, 50 and 60oC) and carbon dioxide (CO2) flowrate (10, 15 and 20 g/min), in which solvent to feed (SF) ratio was set constant at 24. The highest yield of Nigella sativa seeds oil from SCFE-CO2 process with FFD method was 12% at 250 bar, 60oC and 20 g/min. Whereas Taguchi method was performed at 250 bar, 50oC, 10 g/min with oil yield 11.9%. The highest thymoquinone content in Nigella sativa seeds oil from both experimental design was achieved through SCFE-CO2 extraction condition at 150 bar, 60oC and 20 g/min with thymoquinone content 20.8 mg/ml. In addition, conventional methods such as high pressure soxhlet with liquid CO2, n-hexane soxhlet and percolation with ethanol were performed with oil yield 5.8%, 19.1% and 12.4%; and thymoquinone content 8.8 mg/g oil, 6.3 mg/g oil and 5.0 mg/g oil, respectively. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) with 95% confidence interval, indicates effect of pressure on Nigella sativa seeds oil yield and thymoquinone content from SCFE-CO2 process. The oil was then evaluated for its activity. The antibacterial activity of the oil from Taguchi Method, shows that all samples were unable to inhibit Escherichia coli O157 and Salmonella typhimurium. For other pathogenic bacterias, all samples show similar inhibition at concentration 10% oil for MRSA, 3% oil for Stapylococcus aureus and 3% oil for Bacillus subtilis.
To analysis chemical components of volatile oil from the seed of Nigella glandulifera (NG), comparing them with those from the seed of foreign N. sativa (NS) and N. damascene (ND), and to quantify thymoquinone in the volatile oil extracted by hydrodistillation (HD) from the seed of NG. The volatile oil was extracted by supercritical CO2 extraction (SFE-CO2 ) and HD from the seed of NG and its chemical components was analysed by GC-MS, the relative percentage of components were determined by peak aera normalization method and compare with those of the seed of NS and ND. The content of the thymoquinone in the volatile oil was determined by one point external standard method. In terms of the volatile compounds, p-cymene is the major component of NG and NS, their relative percentage contents are 33.75% and 61.48%, respectively. beta-Elemene is the major component of ND, its relative percentage content is 73.24%. The relative percentage contents of thymoquinone are 3.73% (HD), 3.80% and 0.08% in NG, NS and ND, respectively. Linoleic acid is a major component of volatile oil by SFE-CO2 in NG, but its content of p-cymene is lower. The absolute percentage content of thymoquinone is 1.58% by HD in volatile oil of NG. There are comparatively large differences of volatile components in NG, NS and ND.