Nigella sativa and its chemical constituents: pre-clinical and clinical evidence for their potential anti-SARS-CoV-2 effects.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused over 500 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide with relatively high morbidity and mortality. Although global vaccination drive has helped control the pandemic, the newer variant of the virus still holds the world in ransom. Several medicinal herbs with antiviral properties have been reported, and one such promising herb is Nigella sativa (NS). Recent molecular docking, pre-clinical, and clinical studies have shown that NS extracts may have the potential to prevent the entry of coronaviruses into the host cell as well as to treat and manage COVID-19 symptoms. Several active compounds from NS, such as nigelledine, α-hederin, dithymoquinone (DTQ), and thymoquinone (TQ), have been proposed as excellent ligands to target angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2 receptors) and other targets on host cells as well as the spike protein (S protein) on SARS-CoV-2. By binding to these target proteins, these ligands could potentially prevent the binding between ACE2 and S protein. Though several articles have been published on the promising therapeutic role of NS and its constituents against SARS-CoV-2 infection, in this review, we consolidate the published information on NS and SARS-CoV-2, focusing on pre-clinical in silico studies as well as clinical trials reported between 2012 and 2023.