Osteoarthritis is a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs due to damage to the connective tissues of the joints.
This leads to pain and inflammation in the joints.
The connective tissue cartilage is a slippery tissue that protects the ends of the bone in a joint.
It enables an easy, smooth, gliding and frictionless motion by cushioning the bones.
In osteoarthritis, this tissue gradually breaks down, loses its elasticity and becomes rough which causes troubled movement.
In the absence of this tissue, the bones rub against each other which lead to pain.
It commonly affects the joints of the knee, hip, spine, hand, feet, and neck.
The symptoms include stiffness, soreness, tenderness, swelling, pain, and loss of movement. Bits of bone called bone spurs may develop around the joint.
Osteoarthritis usually presents itself in older people due to the deterioration of body tissues with age. However, it can occur in younger people following an injury.
Obesity, gender, age, genetics, joint injuries, occupations (involving stress on a particular joint) , and deformations of joint since birth are some of the factors that can increase the risk of having osteoarthritis.
Pain relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs are given as a treatment measure for this disease to ease discomfort and provide relief to the patient.
However, this effect is temporary and requires regular intake of medications, which pose serious health risks, over a long time.
Lifestyle changes like exercise, physiotherapy and weight loss are also recommended, as being overweight will lead to more pressure on joints, especially those of the feet, knee, hip, and spine.
What is Thymoquinone?
Thymoquinone is a chemical compound found in the plant of Black seed or Black cumin, scientifically known as Nigella sativa.
It is an active ingredient present in black seed oil, which has many therapeutic benefits.
The several health and medicinal benefits offered by black seed at attributed to the presence of this compound.
It possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant and antidiabetic properties. Studies show its efficacy in treating inflammatory disorders, which proves its potential in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Benefits of Thymoquinone in Osteoarthritis
Thymoquinone can aid in relieving Osteoarthritis pain and inflammation while helping in clearing the body of toxins. It delays the progression and can improve the functionality of the joints. Its use can certainly result in a better quality of life of people facing this medical condition.
The benefits of Thymoquinone in the treatment of osteoarthritis are listed below:
1. It has anti-inflammatory properties
The wear and tear of cartilage trigger an immune reaction that leads to the activation of various inflammatory mediators.
The body tends to repair the damage with the help of certain cells and substances which gather at the joint.
This causes swelling and inflammation of the joints.
The preliminary treatment of arthritis requires inhibition of inflammatory responses.
In several studies, Thymoquinone demonstrates a significant anti-inflammatory activity and helps in treating and preventing inflammation of the joints.
In doing so, it does not exhibit any toxic behavior and is considered safe for use.
Thymoquinone inhibits various substances that mediate inflammation like cytokines, prostaglandins, interleukins, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and nitric oxide.
In a study, Thymoquinone was known to inhibit several pathways that lead to the production of Tumor Necrosis Factor-α (TNF-α) and cause inflammation.
It also suppressed the interleukins and associated pathways which were responsible for the synthesis of prostaglandins (substances that cause inflammation).
Additionally, it also obstructs the production of nitric oxide from immune cells.
Nitric oxide plays a major role in many inflammatory processes.
The Journal of Clinical Lipidology reports a study in which Nigella sativa oil (which contains Thymoquinone as the active ingredient), was given to 90 obese women, and it was successful in decreasing many markers of the process of inflammation.
What does this mean? Thymoquinone exhibits anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting many pathways and the production of substances that lead to inflammation.
2. It is an excellent antioxidant
Injuries and the subsequent inflammatory processes lead to the formation of free radicals and reactive oxygen species.
They are toxic in nature and neutralize themselves by attacking the body cells.
The increase in production of these unstable oxygen species leads to the development of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress damages the cells and causes cell death and even cancer.
To protect the cells from this harmful effect, the body needs antioxidants which can locate and fight these radicals.
In a study, the antioxidant effects of Nigella sativa oil were studied, and Thymoquinone was identified as an effective antioxidant that was capable of scavenging free radicals and neutralizing them.
Although the effect of Thymoquinone in combating oxidative stress in osteoarthritis has not been studied, it has shown positive results in reducing toxicity caused by oxidative stress in case of many other diseases with similar symptoms.
It was also concluded that Thymoquinone has great potential in the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
What does this mean? Thymoquinone helps in protecting the bones and cartilages from the harmful effects of reactive oxygen species.
3. It is an effective analgesic
Damage to cartilage and resulting inflammation brings about pain and difficulty in joint movement and is one of the biggest concerns of people with osteoarthritis.
Various studies have shown that Thymoquinone possesses analgesic properties and can be helpful in relieving pain arising from inflammation.
A study was carried to examine the effect of topical application of Nigella sativa oil (containing Thymoquinone) in relieving pain in older adults arising due to knee arthritis.
The oil was applied at an interval of 8 hours for about a month. It was found that the oil helped in reducing pain and was recommended as an effective supplementation for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
What does this mean? Thymoquinone is an effective analgesic and can alleviate the pain in joints caused by osteoarthritis.
4. It is anti-arthritic and prevents bone loss in osteoarthritis
Thymoquinone displays anti-arthritic behavior by helping in relieving most of the symptoms of arthritis and delaying or inhibiting the progression of the disease.
It has been known to have therapeutic effects in different types of arthritis.
In arthritis, the cells in the joints produce certain enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) which degrade the cartilages. These proteins play a fundamental role in the development of arthritis.
Thymoquinone shows great potential in the treatment of osteoarthritis as it inhibits the expression of these metalloproteinase enzymes.
What does this mean? Thymoquinone helps in the treatment of arthritis and can also prevent it from becoming a severe condition. It can assist in avoiding further complications and the need for joint surgery or replacement.
5. It shows anti-cancer behaviour
Medications and drugs used for the treatment of arthritis and toxins produced as a result of oxidative stress can lead to the development of cancer.
Thymoquinone can help in preventing tumor growth and avoid the occurrence of cancer.
It prevents the growth and proliferation of cancerous cells and is also able to locate and kill cells that can lead to the formation of tumors.
Many studies have proved the anti-tumor and anti-neoplastic behavior of both Thymoquinone and Nigella sativa.
What does this mean? Thymoquinone protects the joint tissues from damage by toxins and medications and prevents the growth of cancerous cells.
6. It helps in weight loss
Lifestyle changes including a weight loss regime are recommended for patients with osteoarthritis.
Increased body weight leads to more pressure on the joints which make the cartilages more susceptible to damages and injuries.
Reducing weight can help in the prevention of arthritis and will increase the shock-absorbance capacity of the joint.
Thymoquinone, an active compound in Nigella sativa can significantly lower the body weight and protect the joints from damage.
What does this mean? Thymoquinone can improve the lifestyle conditions of people with osteoarthritis by helping in weight loss and prevent the stress on joints caused by increased body weight.
One can benefit from the medicinal properties of Thymoquinone by consuming Nigella sativa/Black seeds or Nigella sativa oil.
500mg of Nigella sativa oil twice a day is recommended.
- The oil can be topically applied to the joints to gain relief from pain and inflammation.
- The seeds can be added to many recipes as whole or crushed.
- Thymoquinone has been used in a pharmaceutical composition for treating inflammatory diseases. Similarly,
- Thymoquinone can be extracted from Nigella sativa seeds and used in the development of medications for the treatment of osteoarthritis, but more research is required in this field.
Precautions to be Taken
Thymoquinone is considered safe for use and devoid of any toxic implications. However, it can interfere with many biological pathways and drug mechanisms.
Therefore the elderly and persons with any previous medical conditions and on medications should seek medical advice before using it.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women must consult a health practitioner before taking Nigella sativa oil supplements.
Rare cases of dermatitis have been reported on the use of Nigella sativa oil, so one should take a patch test to check possible reactions before its topical application.
Thymoquinone shows great potential as an alternative or supplementary treatment measure for osteoarthritis.
It has numerous health benefits and is completely natural and safe to use.
It can aid in relieving pain and inflammation while helping in clearing the body of toxins. It delays the progression of osteoarthritis and can improve the functionality of the joints.
Its use can certainly result in a better quality of life of people facing this medical condition.