Updated: Sep 25, 2019
What Is Black Cumin Or Black Seed Oil?
Nigella sativa, commonly known as Black Cumin, Black Seed, or Black Cumin Seed is a flowering plant native to South Asia. Its fruit is large and contains numerous small black seeds.
Raw seeds, seed oil, or seed extract have been traditionally used alone or in combination with other ingredients for various health conditions, such as eczema, cough, headache, Diabetes, asthma, infections, and high blood pressure.
Some of the claims that come from its traditional reputation in various cultures have been researched, while others lack scientific evidence. And although this herb has sparked the curiosity of scientists worldwide, most of the research on black cumin so far has only been carried out in cells or animals.
Black Cumin Active Ingredients
The main and most researched active ingredient in black cumin seed oil is thymoquinone. Thymoquinone has been studied for protecting the liver, reducing inflammation, fighting cancer, and as an antioxidant. The seeds also contain alpha-Hederin, a potential cancer-fighting ingredient.
Black cumin seeds are also rich in:
Various vitamins and minerals, such as copper, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and carotene (provitamin A).Fatty acids make about 30% of the seeds. These are mostly unsaturated fatty acids, including linoleic acid and oleic acid, and some saturated fatty acids.
Black Cumin seeds have been used in Middle Eastern, Asian, and European folk medicine as a natural remedy for a wide range of diseases for over 2000 years. Called “The Blessed Seed”, also considered an important remedy in Ayurveda.
Black cumin has a specific bitter taste and smell and is often added to confectionery and liquors. The oil can be used to add flavour to various dishes, but can also be applied on the skin as a painkiller and antiseptic.
My Own Experiments
I noticed black cumin seed oil was a potent anti-inflammatory the first time I took it a while back. Ever since I’ve always made sure to have it in stock.
Solid evidence for reducing allergies A safe antihistamine Evidence against bacterial, fungal, and viral, and parasitic infections Black cumin seeds can likely help reduce slightly increased blood pressure and blood lipids. The evidence for weight loss benefits, reducing inflammation and pain is still limited Shows some anti-cancer activity (but limited to cell studies)
Black cumin seed oil can lower blood sugar. Although this can be beneficial, diabetics should consult with their physicians before they start supplementing.Black cumin Seed oil is not safe to use during pregnancy
Health Benefits of Black Seed Oil
1) Reduces Allergies
Several quality human studies back up the benefits of black cumin for safely reducing allergic symptoms, especially in those with breathing difficulties.
A boiled extract of the seeds was able to improve all asthmatic symptoms in a study (15 mL/kg of 0.1 g% boiled extract daily) of 29 asthmatic patients. It reduced the frequency of asthma symptoms, wheezing, and improved lung function over 3 months. The patients who took black cumin seed extract also had a reduced need for additional medications and inhalers.
In another review (of 4 studies, a total of 152 patients with allergic diseases), black cumin seed oil reduced subjective allergy symptoms, including asthma, eczema, and stuffy nose. Patients received black cumin oil capsules 40 to 80 mg/kg daily, which would be about 2 – 4 g of oil daily for someone who weighs about 110 lbs.
In a study of 66 patients with allergic rhinitis, black cumin oil reduced symptoms such as itching, running nose, sneezing, and congestion after 2 weeks. And in 39 patients with similar symptoms, 2 g daily of black seed cumin seeds after immunotherapy reduced symptoms and increased neutrophils.
Black cumin may also help with breathing problems that are not caused directly by allergies. The boiled extract of the seeds improved breathing and lung function, reducing the need for inhalers, in a study of 40 chemical war victims who had breathing difficulties.
Black cumin extracts relaxed the airways in a tissue study (on guinea pig trachea), which can shed some light on its respiratory benefits.
2) Can Protect the Heart
Daily use of black seed extract for 2 months lowered blood pressure in patients with mildly elevated blood pressure (diastolic BP 140 – 159 mmHg). The test group received either 100 mg or 200 mg of the extract 2 times per day. Aside from reducing blood pressure, the extract also lowered LDL Cholesterol levels, helping to protect the heart.
In another study (64 participants), powdered black cumin capsules seemed to slightly lower blood pressure, lipids, and BMI. The oil also lowered blood pressure In 70 healthy volunteers after 2 months with no adverse effects. The treated group took 2.5 ml of black seed oil twice daily.
In elderly patients with moderately high blood pressure (diastolic BP 160 mmHg), however, black cumin seed extract had a very slight – and statistically insignificant – effect. In this study (76 participants), 300 mg of the extract was given 2 times per day for a month.
A large review of over 800 patients concluded that black seed can effectively lower mildly elevated blood pressure, with black cumin seed powder having a stronger effect than the oil. Overall, black cumin seems to help lower blood pressure in only mild cases and may take 2 months to achieve its benefits.
Animal studies point to additional potential benefits of black cumin for the heart. For example, black cumin seeds improved the recovery of damaged heart tissue in rats (in response to heart surgery or post-heart attack treatment).
Both exercise and black cumin increased heart blood flow and new blood vessels in rats, potentially helping to prevent heart attacks.
Black cumin can protect the heart not only by lowering blood pressure but by also reducing blood lipids. This prevents the lipids from building up and hardening the arteries.
According to a review of clinical studies (SR-MA, 17 RCTs), black seed supplementation helps lower:
Total cholesterol LDL Cholesterol Triglycerides
Black seed oil had a stronger effect on lowering lipids than the powder, but only the powder was able to also increase HDL Cholesterol.
For example, in a small study of 10 patients with high cholesterol, 1 g of black seed powder before breakfast for 2 months reduced all of the above blood lipids. And in a study of 88 similar patients (RCT), 2 g of black seed capsules lowered cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides after a month.
The active ingredient in black cumin (thymoquinone) prevented the hardening of arteries from high cholesterol in rabbits. Even on a high cholesterol diet, the treated rabbits maintained normal blood lipid levels and blood vessels.
How It Works
Based on the available scientific evidence, black seed may protect the heart by:
Flushing excessive fluids from the body (diuretic)Reducing the fight-or-flight (sympathetic) response increasing blood vessel-relaxing nitric oxide Lowering blood lipids Acting as an antioxidant
And although opinions differ as to whether the oil or powder has a stronger effect, both formulations seem to be safe and beneficial for heart health.
3) May Help Diabetes
Black Cumin quite popular among traditional medicine practitioners for reducing diabetic symptoms, such as high blood sugar, as well as insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.
Research does back up the benefits for diabetes, but remember that sudden drops in blood sugar can be dangerous if you have diabetes. If you are already on diabetes medications, be sure to talk to your doctor before supplementing with black cumin.
Several large analyses on thousands of people confirmed that black cumin is a good option for keeping glucose levels in check, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. It helped lower both blood glucose and blood lipids, possibly with long-term benefits (by also reducing.
In a study (prospective) of 60 patients with insulin resistance, black cumin oil (5 ml daily) improved fasting blood glucose levels. However, here it was only given as an add-on to glucose and lipid-lowering medications (metformin and atorvastatin).
Even in patients with type 2 diabetes on oral antidiabetic drugs, black cumin supplementation helped to reduce heart complications. In a study of 114 patients, 2 g of black cumin seeds daily over one year reduced lipids, blood pressure, and BMI.
In rats, black cumin seed extract helped sensitise the muscles to insulin and activated energy balance pathways – both important for fighting type 2 diabetes.
4) May Reduce Inflammation
Black cumin seed (Thymoquinone) has promising anti-inflammatory properties and is good for both TH1 & TH2 dominance
However, only several small studies (with 4 and 1 patients) confirmed that black cumin oil can help with inflammatory conditions like arthritis. The anti-inflammatory effect can be attributed to the active ingredient, thymoquinone (based on animal studies) .
Black cumin seed essential oil reduced inflammation and pain in mice. It also reduced autoimmune brain inflammation in rats with Multiple Sclerosis.
In rats with arthritis, the active ingredient, thymoquinone lowered numerous pro-inflammatory cytokines while increasing anti-inflammatory ones.
It may reduce brain inflammation by blocking, one of the most important factors that lead to inflammation. It reduces inflammation by preventing the immune cells from c