The genus Nigella (Ranunculaceae) is distributed throughout the Mediterranean basin. Badalamenti et al. (2022) have published a systematic review on the medicinal and traditional use, chemical composition, toxicology and phytotherapy of Nigella damascena L., also known as “love-in-a-mist” and “devil in a bush”. This beautiful plant is It is native to southern Europe, north Africa and southwest Asia, where it is found on neglected, damp patches of land.
From the abstract (with some slight changes in wording):
Nigella damanscena L. is traditionally used as an ingredient in food, for example, as flavouring agents in bread and cheese, but is also known in folk medicine, used to regulate menstruation; for catarrhal affections and amenorrhea; as a diuretic and sternutatory; as an analgesic, anti-oedematous, and antipyretic; as a disinfectant and vermifuge. This paper reviews the most dated to the latest scientific research on this species, highlighting the single isolated metabolites and exploring their biological activity.
Fifty-seven natural compounds have been isolated and characterised from the seeds, roots, and aerial parts of the plant. Among these constituents, alkaloids, flavonoids, diterpenes, triterpenes, and aromatic compounds are the main constituents. The isolated compounds and the various extracts obtained with solvents of different polarities presented a diverse spectrum of biological activities such as antibacterial, antifungal, antitumour, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, anti-oedema, and antiviral activities. Various in vitro and in vivo tests have demonstrated the pharmacological potential of β-elemene and the alkaloid damascenin. Unfortunately, the largest number of biological studies on this species and its metabolites have been conducted in vitro. Further investigation is necessary to evaluate the toxicological aspects, mechanisms of action and real therapeutic potential of extracts of N. damascena.
 Badalamenti N., Modica A., Bazan G., Marino P., Bruno M. The ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and biological properties of Nigella damascena – A review. Phytochemistry, Volume 198, 2022, 113165. ISSN 0031-9422. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytochem.2022.113165.
This interesting paper presents an overview of the existing literature published since the year 2000, seeks to identify some repeatedly found seasonal trends and discusses some possible explanations for these trends.
3. Physiological Effects of Phytochemicals from C. sativum
Flavonoids: A flavonoid-rich fraction was found to have hypotensive activity.
Quercetin (a flavonoid): A quercetin-rich aqueous ethanolic extract inhibits α-amylase, α-glucosidase and lipase, and thus potentially has antidiabetic and anti-obesity effects.
Polyphenols: A polyphenol-rich extract inhibits angiotensin-converting enzyme thus potentially has a antihypertensive effect.
Isocoumarins: Isocoumarin aglycones and (to a lesser degree) isocoumarin glycosides (cilantroside A and B) have been found to have neurotrophic / neuroprotective effects by stimulation of nerve growth factor. The aglycones of isocoumarins also showed anti-inflammatory effects.
Phenolic glycosides: The phenolic glycosides daphnin and benzyl-O-β-d-glucoside have also been found to stimulate nerve growth factor.
Sterols: Plant sterols have hypocholesterolaemic effects.
Essential oil: Prominent activities against diabetes, microbial infections, and inhibitory to acetylcholinterase.
Other: A linalool, ascorbyl palmitate and petroselinic acid-rich petroleum ether extract of coriander seeds reduces oxidative stress, is hypolipidaemic, hypoglycaemic, and preventative against diabetic nephropathy.
4. Cardiovascular Benefits of C. sativum
A systematic review was carried out of studies investigating the potential cardiovascular benefits of C. sativum.
Studies have demonstrated the cardioprotective benefits of C. sativum. These include its effect as an antioxidant, antihypertensive, anti-atherogenic, antiarrhythmic, as well as the improvement of other factors that may lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as altered lipid profile, hyperglycaemia and cardiac biomarkers or enzymes.
Most of the studies included in the review were in vivo studies carried out on laboratory animals. Only two were human studies. These latter demonstrated hypolipidaemic, hypocholesterolaemic, hypotensive and antioxidant effects of coriander seed powder. As to plant parts, the majority of the studies included investigated the effects of the seeds. The two studies on the leaves showed hypolipidaemic, hypotensive, normoglycaemic and antioxidant effects.
The authors comment that more in vitro studies are needed to elucidate mechanisms of action.
Limonene is an abundant monoterpene in essential oils of citrus fruit peels (Rutaceae).
This systemic review highlights limonene as “an abundant natural molecule with low toxicity and pleiotropic pharmacological activity in cancer cells, targeting various cell‐signaling pathways critically involved in the initiation, growth, and chemoresistance of cancer cells“. (My italics.)
Gomes de Araújo-Filho H. et al. (2021). Anticancer activity of limonene: A systematic review of target signaling pathways. Phytotherapy Research. 17th April 2021. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.7125 .