Researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center stated in their 2007 study that that the chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil continues to be the chemotherapeutic gold-standard for the treatment of colon cancer. However, they noted that the side effects of 5-FU are numerous due to its ability to attack both healthy and cancerous cells. They responded to previous research findings showing that antioxidants have an ability to deter certain disease processes, especially cancer. They studied epigallocatechin-3-gallate, the most abundant catechin found in green tea, and thymoquinone which is considered to be the most important anti-cancer component of black seeds. Black seeds are known for their powerful scavenger abilities. They are an inhibitor of oxidative stress, and have been utilized in the Middle East for centuries because of their capability to heal many different diseases.
The objective of this study was to investigate the role of sustained delivery of thymoquinone from black seeds, catechin from green tea, and the chemotherapy drug 5-FU on the metabolic activity and the structural changes in human colon cancer cells in laboratory cultures.
Results of this study showed that green tea catechin and black seed thymoquinone produced significant cancer cell destruction and interfered with cellular metabolic functions, which was comparable to cells exposed to sustained drug delivery of the chemotherapy drug 5-FU.
Morphologically, cellular changes occurred after exposure to green tea catechin and thymoquinone for 24 hours, which was comparable to the cellular changes seen in cells exposed to the chemotherapy drug 5-FU. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that the natural agents may offer a safe alternative treatment for colon cancer.
In an earlier study in 2004, Lebanese researchers identified the powerful role of black seed oil as a cancer preventative and cancer treatment agent. The researchers noted that black seed and black seed oil have been used in Asia, the Middle East and Africa to promote health and fight disease. “Thymoquinone, the most abundant constituent present in black seed, is a promising dietary agent for preventing cancer. We investigated the effects of thymoquinone against human colon cancer cells. We report that thymoquinone inhibits the growth of colon cancer cells. Our data support the potential for using thymoquinone for the treatment of colon cancer.”