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Fact Check: Do Kalonji Seeds Contain Hydroxychloroquine Used To Treat Coronavirus?

Fact check: There have been claims circulating on social media that kalonji seeds (Nigella Sativa) contain hydroxychloroquine which used for COVID-19 treatment.

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There have been loads of rumours when it comes to coronavirus cures or something as simple as what should be eaten or not to avoid getting COVID-19. In a recent rumour, people have been sharing on social media that kalonji seeds i.e. Nigella Sativa seeds contain the hydroxychloroquine, which has been largely used as one of the elements that help patients in the recovery from coronavirus. These rumours thus ask people to consume the seeds daily in order to keep COVID-19 away.

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Claim:

There have been many social media posts and claims that say that kalonji seeds are a great cure for coronavirus as it includes hydroxychloroquine. People have started giving advice to eat 7-8 pieces of Nigella Sativa every day. They have also claimed that not only it will cure coronavirus, it will also help one to avoid the disease altogether.

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What is Hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine is essentially an anti-malarial drug. There have been many experiments conducted in the US where patients with coronavirus were given the drug. While the drug has displayed antiviral effects on coronavirus, there are still many experiments to go until it is proven to be a fool-proof antidote for COVID-19. 

Rating: Fake

In an exclusive interview with Republic World, Padma Bhushan Dr Ramakanta Panda, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Asian Heart Institute, was asked about the same rumour. He was asked about whether Kalonji seeds contain hydroxychloroquine used to treat coronavirus. He said:

No. This is just a myth. I strongly recommend not using the drug without any prescription. It is just being used on a trial basis. There is no evidence of the efficiency of the drug. It is being given to two groups - 1. Healthcare workers and 2. Families of an infected person. 

I also strongly recommend that individuals with heart diseases do not consume it without a doctor's prescription as it might even lead to heart stoppage.

Thymohydroquinone in kalonji seeds was mistaken as Hydroxychloroquine

Origin:

The claim of Kalonji seeds being effective on coronavirus was viral on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. As per an article on a news source,  a group of Algerian scientists had experimented Nigella Sativa with the help of molecular docking, which is when various molecules are mixed for a scientific conclusion. They were found to be potential inhibitors of COVID-19, but that does not mean that they contain Hydroxychloroquine. As per a medical source, the following is the kalonji seeds composition:

The fixed oil (32-40 %) contains: unsaturated fatty acids which includes: arachidonic, eicosadienoic, linoleic, linolenic, oleic, almitoleic, palmitic, stearic and myristic acid as well as beta-sitosterol, cycloeucalenol, cycloartenol, sterol esters and sterol glucosides (3-5).

The volatile oil (0.4-0.45 %) contains saturated fatty acids which includes: nigellone that is the only component of the carbonyl fraction of the oil, Thymoquinone (TQ), thymohydroquinone (THQ), dithymoquinone, thymol, carvacrol, α and β-pinene, d-limonene, d-citronellol, p-cymene volatile oil of the seed also contains: p-cymene, carvacrol, t-anethole, 4-terpineol and longifoline 

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Google Trends Analytics

The Google Trends Analytics show that people have been searching about whether there are any kalonji seeds benefits and also whether kalonji seeds contain hydroxychloroquine. The searches saw the peak twice, once on April 8 and again on April 9. Check it out here:

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