Black Cumin also known as Nigella sativa is a small flowering shrub with purple or white-tinged flowers that grows in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and western Asia.
While it may look unsuspecting, the shrub produces fruits that have tiny black seeds. These black seeds have been used in remedies for thousands of years.
Archaeologists even found black seeds in King Tut’s tomb, emphasizing their importance in history for healing and protection.
The benefits to consider are:
1. Helps Fight Cancer
Thanks to its potent phytochemicals and antioxidant capabilities, black cumin seed oil has been shown by Croatian scientists that evaluated the antitumor activity of thymoquinone and thymohydroquinone using an animal model study and discovered that these two phytochemicals found in black seed oil resulted in a 52 percent decrease in tumor cells. (12)
In vitro research in recent years also reveals that thymoquinone, the most abundant bioactive component in black seed oil, helps induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in leukemia cells, breast cancer cells and brain tumor cells. (13, 14, 15)
Additionally, researchers from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health have shown that not only can black seed kill off pancreatic cancer cells, but it also appears to inhibit development of pancreatic cancer. This cancer preventative ability is attributed to black seed’s thymoquinone and its anti-inflammatory properties. (16)
2. Promotes Liver Health
For those that have struggled with poor liver function due to medication side effects, alcohol consumption or disease, black seed oil could greatly speed the healing process. In a recent animal model study, scientists discovered that black seed oil benefits the function of the liver and helps prevent both damage and disease. (17)
3. Combats Diabetes
Explained in a recent article published by the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers from the Indian Council of Medical Research highlight that black cumin seed oil “causes gradual partial regeneration of pancreatic beta-cells, increases the lowered serum insulin concentrations and decreases the elevated serum glucose.” (19) This is actually quite profound because Nigella sativa is one of the few substances on the planet that is suggested to help prevent both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
In fact, according to the study, black cumin seed “improves glucose tolerance as efficiently as metformin; yet it has not shown significant adverse effects and has very low toxicity.” This is huge because metformin, one of the most commonly prescribed type 2 diabetes drugs, can cause a wide slew of side effects, including: (20)
4. Aids Weight Loss
Black seed oil weight loss claims actually do have some science behind them. The Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders published a study systemically reviewing the literature for plants that have anti-obesity properties and discovered that black seed oil was among the most effective natural remedies on the planet. (21)
Another systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2018 highlights the findings of at least 11 placebo-controlled clinical trials that reveal the ability of a black seed supplement to help lower body weight. Supplementation was also shown to decrease body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. It’s also important to note that there were no serious side effects of black seed supplementation reported in any of the studies. (22)
5. Protects Skin
In a study conducted by Iranian researchers, Nigella saliva was found as effective as the skin cream Betamethasone in improving quality of life and decreasing severity of hand eczema. (23) As long as you don’t have an allergic reaction to black seed oil, it does not come with a laundry list of terrifying side effects like conventional creams.
Betamethasone, for example, may cause swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, skin color changes, dark freckles, easy bruising, muscle weakness, and severe attention. Weight gain around your neck, upper back, breast, face or waist is also in the realm of possibility. (24)
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather use something natural on my skin like black seed oil or moringa oil.
6. Benefits Hair
Black cumin seed oil is often featured on lists of natural ways to boost hair and scalp health in numerous ways. Since it contains nigellone, shown by research to be an impressive antihistamine, it may help with hair loss due to androgenic alopecia or alopecia areata. With its antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can also help the health of the scalp in general, discouraging dandruff and dryness, and improve hair health at the same time. (25, 26)
7. Treats Infections (MRSA)
Of all the superbugs that black seed oil can kill, methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the most important. MRSA is plaguing hospitals and nursing homes across the globe because ordinary staph infections are becoming resistant to generic antibiotics. The elderly population is especially at risk because it is generally associated with invasive procedures, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing and artificial joints. (27) Primarily due to weakened immunity, the growing population of senior citizens has made MRSA a global public health risk.
Thankfully, one of the strongest black seed oil benefits may help. Pakistan scientists took several strains of MRSA and discovered that each one was sensitive to N. sativa, proving that black seed oil can help slow down or stop MRSA from spreading out of control. (28)
8. Improves Fertility
One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluated whether or not black seed oil could help infertile male subjects with abnormal sperm. The control group orally took 2.5 milliliters of black seed oil while the placebo group received the same amount of liquid paraffin twice a day for two months. The results revealed that the black seed oil group had improvements in their sperm count as well as sperm motility and semen volume. (29)
A systematic review published in 2015 in the Journal of Herbal Medicine also looked at the effects of black seeds on male infertility. The researchers reviewed studies that took place between 2000 and 2014, and overall, they concluded that black seed can “positively influence sperm parameters, semen, Leydig cells, reproductive organs and sexual hormones.” (30)
9. Balances Cholesterol
A study using an animal model published in 2017 found that an aqueous extract of Nigella sativa not only had anti-diabetic effects on animal subjects, but also helped with cholesterol. After six weeks of given the diabetic animal subjects low doses of black seed, total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and glucose levels all came down while HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased. (31)
Another older randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted with human subjects who had mild hypertension. There was a placebo group, a group that took 100 milligrams of black seed twice a day and a group that took 200 milligrams twice a day. After eight weeks of this supplementation, researchers found that the people who took the black seed supplement had their systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure decrease in “a dose-dependent manner.” Additionally, the black seed extract supplement caused a “significant decline” in both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. (32)
So overall, it appears that black seed may help lower cholesterol as well as blood sugar and blood pressure.
Is black cumin seed oil safe?
It’s possible that black seed oil can increase the effects of medicines that the body processes through the cytochrome P450 pathway. Enzymes in this pathway metabolize 90 percent of common medications. Examples of common medications can include beta-blockers such as metoprolol (Lopressor) and the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin).
If you take any prescription medications regularly, talk to your doctor before starting to take black cumin seed oil. You shouldn’t stop taking any of your regular medications without talking to your doctor first.
Black seed oil can be helpful to liver function, but taking too much black seed oil can also be harmful to your liver and kidneys. If you have problems with either of these organs, talk to your doctor to determine a safe dose (if any). Also, topical black seed oil can cause allergic reactions. Do a patch test before applying it to a large area on your skin.
Black seed oil uses:
If you’re looking to expand your palate, you can incorporate black seeds into your dishes. Suggestions on foods to add black seeds to include:
You can also purchase black cumin seed oil at most health stores and pharmacies.
Currently, there aren’t specific daily recommendations for how much black seed oil to take for good health. Incorporating the unprocessed seeds into dishes and skin products is the safest way to use black seed oil. If you choose a product with individual packaging, follow the recommended dose — usually a daily intake of about 1 to 2 teaspoons. Talk with your doctor before you start taking black seed oil, and include it on your home medication list.
Black Seed Oil Uses:
It can be diluted with a few teaspoons of a carrier oil like coconut, olive or almond oil. Once diluted, it can help with common skin concerns like acne and eczema thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Some people also find it helpful for psoriasis and rosacea.
It can easily be added to homemade massage oils and lotions to experience the many black cumin seed benefits. For a warming massage, simply add one drop to one tablespoon of a carrier oil. To boost hair and scalp health, a few drops of oil can be added to hair products like shampoo and conditioner. If you enjoy making homemade fragrances with essential oils, it’s good to know that black seed oil has a peppery scent and works well as a base note.
With its spicy flavor, a high-quality (100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and certified USDA organic) black seed oil can be used in all kinds of recipes from meat main courses to soups and stews. You can also add it to beverages like chai tea latte and smoothies.
Some companies also specify that their black seed oil is cold-pressed, which typically means that the oil is extracted from the Nigella sativa seeds without the use of heat from an external source resulting. Sometimes, cold-pressed oils are said to be more flavorful. Want to give black cumin seed oil a try?
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !