Social media posts and WhatsApp forwards claiming Nigella seeds or Kalonji - as it is known in India, contain hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug being used to fight the novel Coronavirus, are misleading.
Kalonji is known to have medicinal properties and is considered a natural remedy for a wide range of illnesses but its link with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has not yet been conclusively established.
A 2020 study found that kalonji could have potential inihibitors for SARS-CoV-2 but the study has not yet been replicated to verify its authenticity.
COVID-19 has so far affected over 16 lakh people across 184 countries. Many countries are using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to tackle the virus as a line of treatment. However, no definite cure has identified so far. Several countries have turned to India for its hydroxychloroquine supplies as the country has many pharmaceutical manufacturers of the drug.
A viral WhatsApp forward claims hydroxychloroquine is found in Kalonji seeds and that consuming seven kalonji seeds with honey and water before breakfast is an assured way to keep the Coronavirus at bay.
Separately, a morphed video of a Fox News bulletin discussing the discovery of chloroquine along with a graphic peddling kalonji or nigella seeds added to the clip, is also doing the rounds of social. Fox News' original coverage does not include the graphic. BOOM received the below video on its WhatsApp helpline as well.
The claim is also viral on Facebook with a myriad set of pictures. The number of kalonji seeds changes across claims.
BOOM found studies discussing the medicinal properties of of kalonji. A study has found that kalonji could inhibit COVID-19 but its very early to say if this can be replicated while another study found its efficacy with chloroquine to stop malaria.
However, there is no evidence supporting the presence of hydroxychloroquine in the seeds.
Kalonji For COVID-19
BOOM found a recent study that suggested that Nigella (kalonji) seeds could have elements that could be potential inhibitors for SARS-CoV-2 but these tests were done in laboratory settings and in vitro. The kalonji seeds were mixed with other molecules through a process of molecular docking to target a specific protease which was found in the SARS-CoV-2 sequencing.
Molecular docking is when various molecules are mixed together to arrive at a certain scientific conclusion while protease are elements that break down proteins. The Algerian scientists who conducted the study decided to choose kalonji seeds as they are known to have anti-viral properties.
The scientists however further emphasised that these in vitro studies need to be replicated to ensure that the compounds they researched were actually inhibitors and could be put to further use for developing treatment against the virus.
Kalonji seeds scientifically known as Nigella sativa seeds are known to have medicinal properties. They have been seen to be effective for different chronic illness, neurological and mental illness, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, and infertility as well as various infectious diseases due to bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and viral infections.
They are also being explored as an alternative option against HIV/AIDS. Moreover, their strong antioxidant property has recently gained increasing attention with regard to its potential role as dietary supplement with minimal side effects.
Kalonji With Chloroquine
They have been effective with chloroquine another anti-malarial drug to suppress the malaria parasite, in mice. They are seen to enhance the activity of chloroquine. Its connection to enhancing the efficacy of chloroquine for tackling coronavirus has not been studied yet.
The claim that they contain hydroxychloroquine and are useful against COVID-19 is not scientifically backed and needs to be further researched. There is no scientific evidence stating that kalonji seeds with honey and water before breakfast is useful in keeping the Coronavirus at bay.
Editor's Note: A previous version of the story referred to the malarial parasite as a malaria virus. The error is regretted
Updated On: 2020-04-13T14:34:51+05:30
Claim Review : Kalonji seeds have hydroxychloroquine and should be consumed with honey to keep coronavirus away
Claimed By : Unknown
Fact Check : Misleading