The essential oil of black cumin seeds, Nigella sativa L., was tested for a possible antioxidant activity. A rapid evaluation for antioxidants, using two TLC screening methods, showed that thymoquinone and the components carvacrol, t-anethole and 4-terpineol demonstrated respectable radical scavenging property. These four constituents and the essential oil possessed variable antioxidant activity when tested in the diphenylpicrylhydracyl assay for non-specific hydrogen atom or electron donating activity. They were also effective.OH radical scavenging agents in the assay for non-enzymatic lipid peroxidation in liposomes and the deoxyribose degradation assay. GC-MS analysis of the essential oil obtained from six different samples of Nigella sativa seeds and from a commercial fixed oil showed that the qualitative composition of the volatile compounds was almost identical. Differences were mainly restricted to the quantitative composition.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.