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Anti-Cancer Properties of Nigella spp. Essential Oils and their Major Constituents, Thymoquinone and β-Elemene

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Essential oils are the volatile fraction of aromatic and medicinal plants after extraction by steam or water distillation. They have been used for their pharmaceutical potential since early times, and even now are still subject to a great deal of attention, as is clear from the increasing number of publications each year on this subject. This review presents both fundamental and recent studies concerned with the role of Nigella species essential oils and their major constituents, thymoquinone and β-elemene, as potential chemotherapeutic and chemopreventive anti-cancer agents. The mechanism of action and the factors which determine the concentrations of these major constituents in the essential oil are also reviewed.

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Keywords: Anti-cancer; Nigella damascene; Nigella sativa; essential oils; thymoquinone; β-elemene

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Current Clinical Pharmacology publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances in clinical pharmacology. The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles in the field. Topics covered include: pharmacokinetics; therapeutic trials; adverse drug reactions; drug interactions; drug metabolism; pharmacoepidemiology; and drug development. The journal is essential reading for all researchers in clinical pharmacology.
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