Anticonvulsant effects of thymoquinone, the major constituent of Nigella sativa seeds, in mice

Phytomedicine. 2004 Jan;11(1):56-64. doi: 10.1078/0944-7113-00376.


The anticonvulsant effects of thymoquinone, the major constituent of Nigella sativa seeds, were investigated using pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)- and maximal electroshock (MES)-induced seizure models. We also studied the effect of thymoquinone on pentobarbital-induced hypnosis, locomotor activity, and motor coordination. In PTZ-induced seizure, the intraperitoneally injection of thymoquinone with doses of 40 and 80 mg/kg, prolonged the onset of seizures and reduced the duration of myoclonic seizures. The protective effect of thymoquinone against mortality was 71.4% and 100% in the mentioned doses, respectively. In MES model, thymoquinone failed to reduce the duration of seizure, whereas exhibited a complete protection against mortality. In PTZ model, flumazenil (10 mg/kg, i.p.), an antagonist of benzodiazepine (BZD) site in the GABAA-BZD receptor complex, inhibited the prolongation of seizure latency, but did not show any effect on the duration of myoclonic seizures. Also, pretreatment with naloxone (0.1 and 03 mg/kg, i.p.) inhibited the prolongation of myoclonic seizure latency and antagonized the reduction of myoclonic seizure duration induced by thymoquinone (40 and 80 mg/kg) in the PTZ model. Moreover, thymoquinone (40 and 80 mg/kg) did not have any hypnosis effect in the pentobarbital-induced hypnosis, but impaired the motor coordination and reduced the locomotor activity. These results indicate that thymoquinone may have anticonvulsant activity in the petit mal epilepsy probably through an opioid receptor-mediated increase in GABAergic tone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Benzoquinones / administration & dosage
  • Benzoquinones / pharmacology*
  • Benzoquinones / therapeutic use
  • Diazepam / pharmacology
  • Electroshock
  • Flumazenil / pharmacology
  • GABA Modulators / pharmacology
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Nigella sativa*
  • Pentylenetetrazole
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Seeds
  • Seizures / chemically induced
  • Seizures / drug therapy*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Benzoquinones
  • GABA Modulators
  • Plant Extracts
  • Flumazenil
  • thymoquinone
  • Diazepam
  • Pentylenetetrazole