Friday, December 15, 2017

A bit more on angiogenesis and thymoquinone

Angiogenesis during pregnancy is crucial, for it is the forming of new blood vessels from existing ones. To create a placenta and a baby, this process must be able to go forth properly.

An overlooked dietary angiogenesis inhibitor is thymoquinone (,,,, one of the most active constituents of Nigella sativa (AKA black cumin, czarnuszka, black seed, etc.). ( In 2013, it was shown that thymoquinone has a potentially disruptive effect on embryonic development in the middle of rat pregnancy (; specifically, thymoquinone caused fetal death and resorption:

Results showed that TQ [thymoquinone] induces maternal and embryonic toxicities in a dose- and time-dependent manner. With a dose of 50 mg/kg, treated rats experienced a significant decrease in maternal body weight and complete fetal resorption when the dose was given on day 11 of gestation. On the other hand, 46.2% of implants were resorbed and the viable fetuses showed no TQ-related malformations when the dose was given on day 14 of gestation. At a lower TQ dose of 35 mg/kg, maternal and embryonic toxicities were observed only when it was given on day 11 of gestation.

As in the rodent studies of thalidomide, thymoquinone does not appear to cause to cause any morphological abnormalities in rat fetuses. Just fetal resorption. This is striking to me because it resembles the only early indication that thalidomide is harmful to developing embryos. Thalidomide has a different effect on developing rodents than on humans. Thalidomide was initially approved for human use partly because the rodent tests done with it appeared to be showing that it was safe for developing embryos.

A 1962 study titled "Thalidomide and Congenital Abnormalities," by Victor Knapp, George Christie, and Mary Seller, all working in the UK, looked at the teratogenic effects of Thalidomide on rats, mice, and rabbits, and the study reported no abnormalities in the offspring of these animals after researchers had exposed the pregnant females to the drug. The authors noted that the study provided no grounds to think that drugs containing Thalidomide were safe for human use, and they argued that the only method guaranteed to safely deal with drugs of unknown teratogenicity would be to completely refrain from using them unless absolutely necessary. In 1963, Joseph A. DiPaolo, working in the US, discussed various birth defects found in mice fetuses whose mothers were fed Thalidomide daily, but he found only one kind of anamoly [sic] called fetal resorption, or the partial or complete dissolution of fetal tissues after some embryos had died in utero.

Black cumin is much praised by some Islamic researchers. ( I think this is because they have a "hadith" (post-Quran saying attributed to Muhammed) in which Muhammed was reported to have said that black cumin is good for all diseases except death. 

Narrated Khalid bin Sa`d: We went out and Ghalib bin Abjar was accompanying us. He fell ill on the way and when we arrived at Medina he was still sick. Ibn Abi 'Atiq came to visit him and said to us, "Treat him with black cumin. Take five or seven seeds and crush them (mix the powder with oil) and drop the resulting mixture into both nostrils, for `Aisha has narrated to me that she heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, 'This black cumin is healing for all diseases except As-Sam.' Aisha said, 'What is As-Sam?' He said, 'Death." (Might Khalid bin Sa'd, Aisha, or Ibn Abi 'Atiq have heard wrong or unintentionally exaggerated?)

It appears to me from the way some researchers in Islamic countries talk about black cumin, they seem frightened to admit that, like all medicinal substances, black cumin might have some negative side effects, too. Which is irrational. Now, I totally get where they're coming from. After all, in the middle of a "Wheat Belly" trend, I refuse to dump wheat because D&C 89 (the Mormon Word of Wisdom) says that wheat is "for man." But lots of LDS people who believe that D&C 89 is a revelation from God have celiac disease and so don't eat wheat. It's important to find out where a particular substance helps and where it harms in order to utilize it wisely and for optimal effects.

It's been repeatedly noted that Muslim cultures/countries tend to top the global charts for birth defects (, including congenital blindness ( and deafness (, which were also results of thalidomide exposure during gestation (, interestingly enough. Researchers appear to almost unanimously conclude that consanguinity (marrying close relatives) is the main factor behind this higher rate of birth defects. (, But what if the least secular Muslims--the ones marrying cousins despite all the data about the higher risk of the practice because clerics tell them that Muhammed's approval of cousin marriages 14 centuries ago makes it evil to question them now--are also using black cumin during pregnancy because of the hadith recommending it? What if the black cumin is contributing to birth defects, too? How would we ever tease out evidence of such an effect while both cousin marriage and black seed use are promoted within the hadith-accepting sects of Islam? Ideas?

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