Arthritis is a condition which affects the joints and weakens them.
It is often accompanied by severe joint pain, swelling, and inflammation.
The most common forms are the two chronic forms- osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Other forms of this disease include septic arthritis, gout, and reactive arthritis. Certain connective tissue disorders are also categorised under arthritis-related problems.
Rheumatoid arthritis has a painful and progressive onset. It is an inflammatory form of the disease. Nodule and lump formation take place as it spreads.
These formations pose a threat to the lungs and eyes.
The disease is mostly passed down through members of the same family which is why scientists believe that it is a genetic problem.
This disorder can be triggered on the exposure of a genetically predisposed individual to certain damaging environmental catalysts like smoking.
On the other hand, osteoarthritis is brought about by ‘wear and tear’ of joints.
A feeling of malaise and flare-ups at the joint sites are common.
The proper diagnosis is conducted by X-ray analysis or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This is followed by a blood test to eliminate other disease and determine the specific problem.
The aim of rheumatoid arthritis treatment is to heal through reducing pain, inflammation and improving the functionality of the joint.
What is Nigella Sativa?
Nigella Sativa or black cumin is an annual flowering plant native to South and Southwest Asia.
It is used as a spice and adds a unique flavour to regular foods. This plant has been used for its therapeutic properties for centuries.
Its oil and another extract, thymoquinone has been and used extensively for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective qualities in traditional medicine. Considering these benefits, scientists in recent years have been investigating its use in the treatment of many common diseases.
The biological effects of these compounds on the human body are largely positive.
They have shown promise in the treatment of several diseases like asthma, hypertension, diabetes, inflammation, cough, bronchitis, headache, eczema, fever, dizziness and influenza.
Their general mechanism is a combination of antimutagenic, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory activities on effected cells.
Researchers believe that they may be applicable in rheumatoid arthritis treatment as well.
7 Benefits of Nigella Sativa in Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment
Considering the plethora of benefits of Nigella sativa offers, researchers attempted to use it as a therapeutic agent for rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
Rheumatoid arthritis is often characterized by inflammation and pain. The plant extracts are known to relieve such symptoms and could thus be a potential remedy for this problem.
Here, we explore some of the factors associated with Nigella Sativa and its healing properties in rheumatoid arthritis along with suitable scientific evidence:
1. It has an anti-inflammatory effect
Inflammation is a key factor contributing to joint pain and swelling and one of the main markers of rheumatoid arthritis.
In order to understand the anti-inflammatory activity of the oil extract of Nigella sativa, a study was conducted using a group of 40 arthritis affected females.
They were divided into 2 groups- a treatment group and a placebo group.
The treatment group consumed Nigella extract containing capsules. After 6 months, a reduction of inflammation in the subjects was seen and evaluated through clinical examination and laboratory investigations
It was found that there was a significant decrease in cytotoxicity and inflammation status in the treatment group.
What does this mean? From this study, it can be understood that supplementation of Nigella sativa to rheumatoid arthritis patients bears potential to reduce cytotoxic activity and relive inflammation.
2. It has antioxidant effects
Free radicles are harmful chemicals found in our body in an unbound state. Their levels are kept in check by antioxidant compounds.
However, a toxic condition known as oxidative stress arises when the rate of build-up of free radicles exceeds the rate of their elimination.
The ability of Nigella sativa to relieve oxidative stress has been studied in a group of 42 arthritis patients. They were assigned to placebo and an intervention group.
The members of the latter received Nigella sativa containing capsules daily over 8 weeks. At the end of the study biochemical analysis of each group was conducted.
The extracts of Nigella sativa managed to bring about biochemical alterations within the body of the affected individuals and ameliorated the oxidative status by eradicating free radicles.
What does this mean? It can be implied from this study that nigella sativa could be potentially used in rheumatoid arthritis treatment to eradicate harmful free radicles. It reduces oxidative stress and improves cell viability.
3. It has pain relieving activity
Nigella sativa is known to drive away the pain. It has been used historically as an anodyne.
In order to estimate the extent of this ability, scientists studied it using an animal model. They were then provided with Nigella sativa seed extract and another standard drug for comparative purposes.
At the end of the study, the analgesic effect of Nigella sativa was deduced using statistical analysis.
It was observed that Nigella sativa seed extracts triggered immune responses and relieving pain.
What does this mean? The potent analgesic abilities of Nigella sativa seed extracts can be used to heal the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
4. It benefits in autoimmune conditions
Nigella sativa has been believed to possess immune modulatory abilities. In order to use a property to its full potential, its validity was tested by researchers in a human study.
40 female arthritis patients were studied. They were given placebo capsules for 2 months followed by a month of Nigella Sativa containing capsules.
Arthritis activity was measured through several biochemical parameters.
It was seen that the diseases activity score was significantly reduced in the Nigella sativa treated individuals enabling these extracts useful in arthritis treatment.
What does this mean? By monitoring levels of immune cells, Nigella sativa extracts decrease swelling and control the effects of arthritis and inflammation on joints.
5. Thymoquinone in Nigella sativa benefits in arthritis
Thymoquinone is a phytochemical compound that can be obtained from the plant extract of Nigella Sativa.
It has a variety of uses in Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment.
It has anti-inflammatory properties.
It also regulates catabolic factors and gastric flare-ups related to rheumatoid arthritis. These abilities were analysed by scientists through several experiments.
A study was conducted to see how treatment with thymoquinone affected human rheumatoid fibroblasts (cells affected by rheumatoid arthritis).
Over time it was seen that thymoquinone showed arthritic preventive effects when orally administered.
The serum levels of the catabolic factors such as extracellular regulated kinase, alkaline phosphatase, and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase were significantly lowered.
Thymoquinone is also known for its ability to treat digestive disorders and repair intestinal damage.
This was studied by treating intestinal cells which were damaged by methotrexate with thymoquinone.
Thymoquinone was taken orally for a period of 10 days after which its effects were analysed by measuring oxidative/nitrosative stress, inflammatory and apoptotic markers.
The administration of the compound shown beneficial outcomes in all the required parameters.
What does this mean? From the above mentioned studies it can be implied that thymoquinone can moderate the concentrations of catabolic factors and repair flare ups caused by gut damages. This enables the compound to be a clinically effective mode of preventing arthritis.
6. It protects stomach health
Studies have indicated that buildup of harmful microbes in the intestine and gut play a role in the flare-ups related to rheumatoid arthritis.
Some of these organisms include Prevotellacopri and Bartonella.
Nigella Sativa is known for its ability to heal gastric ulcers and repair intestinal damage. This was studied using an animal model.
Over time it was observed that the oil was capable of reducing intestinal tissue damage in a dose dependent manner.
Therefore, by introducing Nigella sativa oil into our diets we would eliminate the damage and stress caused by harmful gut and intestine microbes.
What does this mean? The intestinal cleansing abilities of Nigella sativa are helpful in arthritis treatment as they kill the microbes which cause flare ups in case of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
7. It helps in weight loss and metabolic syndrome
Obesity is one of the causative factors of weakening of joints. Excessive fat exerts too much load and breaks the collagen fibres responsible for holding together connective tissues.
Nigella Sativa is believed to aid in weight loss and metabolic problems
This property was validated by a study in humans. The treatment group was provided with Nigella sativa extracts, both groups were tested weekly over a 3 month period.
The results showed that the treatment group showed a marked reduction in body weight, waist circumference and an improvement in metabolic parameters.
What does this mean? From the above study, it can be inferred that Nigella sativa is a useful preventive and therapeutic agent in obesity related forms of arthritis. It maintains check on metabolic activities of the body as well.
Dosage of Nigella Sativa In Rheumatoid Arthritis
Nutritionists and dieticians suggest that the best mode of introduction of Nigella sativa into our system is by means of modifying our diet.
This can be carried out by adding the crushed powder of Nigella sativa seeds to our foods.
An added bonus is the spicy flavour it gives to our daily food items. It can also be used as a preservative.
The recommended dosage of the powder is approximately 2-3g.
Scientists are still researching the full scope and outcomes of uses of Nigella sativa in our diet.
Most reports indicate that its consumption is safe however a few cases of dermatitis have also occurred.
The pathways through which it modifies cell signals and immune responses are still poorly understood.
It is, therefore, best to consult with a healthcare professional first before initiating its regular consumption.
Nigella sativa has been used for years due to its beneficial impacts on human health.
Since it is closely connected to immune cell activity and cell signal regulation, it could be a promising therapeutic agent in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
It has shown potent abilities to relieve pain and swelling and are therefore highly recommended by nutritionists in the treatment of many degenerative disorders.