Black seed oil has become an increasingly popular supplement due to a growing body of research highlighting its potential health benefits. But what exactly is black seed oil? And what does science say about its effects on the body? Let’s explore what makes this plant and its seed & oil so special.
Humble Apology: I wrote about this topic because I strongly believe in its effectiveness and potential positive impact for us as individuals, for our families, and for the many ailments that plague us in this age. I apologize; I did not mean for this to be so long … to become more like a whitepaper. To help, I have provided a navigation menu:
What is Black Seed Oil?
Black seed oil, also known as Nigella sativa oil, comes from the seeds of the Nigella sativa plant native to Southern Europe, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. The Nigella sativa plant produces tiny, matte-black seeds with a slightly rough texture that are known for their pungent, bitter taste. Despite their flavor, these tiny seeds pack a serious nutritional punch. The seeds go through pressing to extract the precious oil held within. High quality black seed oil is unrefined, cold-pressed, and sold in dark amber glass bottles to prevent light exposure. The oil has been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems and continues to be studied by researchers today.
Before we continue, it is worth going over a few of the names for which Nigella Sativa is known; however, none are more common (at least in English) than “black cumin.” Here are a few others which I found nicely summarized in this quote:
it is also variously known as الحبّة السوداء al-ḥabbah al-sawdāʼ ‘the black seed’ or حبّة البركة ḥabbat al-barakah ‘the seed of blessing’ (Arabic), kaljeera (Assamese কালজীৰা kalzira or ক’লাজীৰা kolazira), kalo jira (Bengali: কালোজিরা kalojira, black cumin), μαυρόκοκκος mavrokokkos ‘black seed’ (Cypriot Greek), garacocco (Cypriot Turkish), קצח qetsaḥ (Hebrew), kalonji (Hindi कलौंजी kalauṃjī or कलोंजी kaloṃjī, Urdu كلونجى kalonjī) or mangrail (Hindi मंगरैल maṃgarail), kalo jeera (Nepali: कालो जीरा), jintan hitam (Indonesian), reşke (Kurdish), काळा जिरा kāḷā jirā (Marathi), سیاهدانه siyāh dāne (Persian), чернушка chernushka or калинджи kalindzhi (Russian), கருஞ்சீரகம் karuñcīrakam (Tamil), çörek otu (Turkish), karim jeerakam (കരിംജീരകം) in Malayalam or කළු දුරු in Sinhala, karto jeera in Beary, ( စမုန်နက် , samoun ne’) in Myanmar.
Some use the seeds, some use the oil, and some consume it as a supplement (i.e., capsule).
Scientifically Backed Benefits
Emerging modern research lends credibility to many of black seed oil’s traditional uses. Current studies indicate this oil may provide the following science-backed health benefits:
Supports Immune Health
Black seed oil is rich in thymoquinone, a compound with potent antioxidant properties. Studies indicate thymoquinone supports immune cell function and healthy inflammation responses. The oil also bolsters the body’s natural production of immune cells.
Type-2 Diabetes, Heart Health, and More
Let’s explore the exciting potential of Nigella sativa in managing type 2 diabetes and improving heart health. In a groundbreaking study from the 4th quarter of 2010, researchers uncovered the remarkable benefits of Nigella sativa seeds in controlling blood sugar without any harmful effects on kidney or liver function. This was just the beginning. Fast forward to June 2020, and a more recent investigation reveals the positive impact of Nigella sativa oil on heart and overall blood health. Now, let’s delve into these findings and what they mean for individuals with type 2 diabetes.
According to a study published on PubMed, taking 2 grams of Nigella sativa seeds daily alongside your regular diabetes medications could be a game-changer for controlling blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. This research shows some really promising results. What’s even more exciting is that these improvements in blood sugar control came without any harmful effects on the patients’ kidneys or livers. So, incorporating 2 grams of Nigella sativa seeds into your daily routine may offer a safe and effective way to better manage your blood sugar if you have type 2 diabetes.
In a more recent study, published in June 2020, taking Nigella sativa oil seems to have a positive effect on the heart and blood health of people with type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood sugar, improves cholesterol levels, reduces inflammation, and helps protect the body from stress. This is good news for people with diabetes and their heart health.
Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis
Based on a small-scale study published in Immunological Investigations in 2016, there is promising evidence that black seed oil could offer relief for individuals dealing with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In this meticulously designed study, 43 women diagnosed with mild-to-moderate RA were randomly assigned to either receive black seed oil capsules or a placebo over the course of one month. The outcomes were compelling, with those taking black seed oil experiencing noticeable reductions in:
- Arthritis symptoms, as evaluated through a clinical rating scale.
- Levels of inflammatory markers in their blood.
- The number of swollen joints they encountered.
Test tube and animal studies reveal the active compounds in black seed oil, especially thymoquinone, have neuroprotective effects. The research indicates they may help protect cognitive function and promote a healthy inflammatory response in the brain.
We’re going to spend a minute here because this one is not just important but somewhat of a hidden secret too.
In cell studies, thymoquinone (TQ) emerges as a potential superhero in the battle against cancer. No need for lab coats or complex medical jargon here – we’re all about uncovering how this natural compound, found in black seed oil, boasts remarkable anti-tumor effects (source). Picture it as a friendly force that can slow down the growth of cancer cells and encourage them to, well, call it a day. So, as fellow parents, isn’t it heartening to know that sometimes, nature provides us with unexpected allies for our family’s health?
I’m no doctor, and I’m not here to replace medical advice. But, as someone dedicated to exploring simple and practical solutions for everyday life, I can’t help but share this intriguing discovery. What Would Baba Do is all about nature’s remedies, wellness, and more, crafted for the everyday – just like you and me. As parents, we seek straightforward and effective ways to support our family’s well-being. Nature, with its hidden gems like black seed oil, often holds the answers to our questions.
Now, let’s explore the fascinating world of thymoquinone (TQ) and its potential in countering specific types of cancer, much like the great physician Ibn Sina recognized its potential in the past. These studies are like friendly signposts on our path, not intricate maps:
- Lung Cancer: Leading the charge against a significant global health concern, TQ demonstrated the ability to inhibit lung cancer cell growth, acting as nature’s defense mechanism against one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths (source).
- Breast Cancer: In a world where breast cancer affects so many, TQ showcased its prowess in inactivating breast cancer cells. The potential is promising for a condition that affects countless families (source).
- Colon Cancer: With its capacity to prevent colon carcinogenesis, TQ proves its worth in guarding against a common cancer. Colon cancer refers to cancer that originates in the colon, which is a part of the large intestine. The study highlights how this natural compound can be an ally in our wellness journey (source).
- Renal Cancer: In the battle against renal carcinoma, TQ emerges as a powerful defender. Renal carcinoma, also known as renal cell carcinoma, is a type of kidney cancer that originates in the lining of the small tubes in the kidney. Its potential to restore normal metabolic processes suggests that it may offer hope for those facing this type of cancer (source).
- Miscellaneous Studies: Alongside these targeted battles, TQ also shows promise in delaying the onset and reducing the number of papillomas. Papillomas are noncancerous, benign growths that can develop in various tissues of the body, such as the skin or mucous membranes. Additionally, TQ displayed its anti-cancer activity against pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) cells. Researchers observed proliferation and apoptosis in PDA cells through the administration of TQ, highlighting its potential in the battle against this aggressive form of cancer (source).
Furthermore, other studies demonstrated the anti-cancer effects of TQ in various scenarios. Researchers found that TQ exhibited its anti-cancer capabilities against pancreatic cancer, including human epithelial cervical cancer (HeLa) cells, where it induced apoptosis and effectively killed the cells. This natural compound also showed promise in inhibiting the proliferation of human cervical cancer cells (source).
So, while we’re not diving deep into the complexities of medicine, we’re certainly diving into the wonders of nature. And if you’d like to dive even deeper into the research, you can explore this intriguing study on the anti-inflammatory effects of thymoquinone (TQ) in the context of pancreatic cancer cells (source).
In my research, I found even more on black seed and its anti-cancer impact, but this section is long enough.
Applying black seed oil may improve skin moisture retention, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, help clear acne, and soothe overall skin inflammation. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties contribute to glowing skin.
The fatty acids and antioxidants in black seed oil nourish the scalp, help reduce dandruff, add shine to hair, and may even promote hair growth. It’s a versatile way to boost hair vitality. While research continues, the health-promoting properties of black seed oil look quite encouraging. It’s easy to incorporate into your wellness routine and may offer a long list of beautifying, protective benefits. As with any supplement, consult your healthcare provider before adding black seed oil to your regular regimen.
Traditional Uses in Islamic Medicine
While discussing the traditional uses of Nigella Sativa, which I’ll continue to reference as black seed or black cumin interchangeably, it is important to recognize that this remarkable plant has been valued not only within specific cultural or religious contexts but also by a wide range of people worldwide. The history of its traditional uses in various cultures and healing systems reveals its universal appeal. In this section, we will delve into the rich tradition of black cumin in Islamic medicine, which has preserved its therapeutic wisdom for centuries.
In the exploration of Nigella sativa, commonly known as black seed or black cumin, we delve into its rich history and the profound role it plays in traditional Islamic medicine. With deep roots in Islamic culture and faith, this remarkable seed, referred to as Habba(t) al-barakah (حبَة البركة) in Arabic, holds a special place. Its significance is underscored by the Hadith, where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is quoted as saying (different accounts: 1, 2, 3, 4): “This black cumin is healing for all diseases except As-Sam.” “As-Sam” (or “as-saam” for a more accurate pronunciation) is translated as death. Throughout Islamic tradition, black cumin, has been valued for its ability to balance inner heat in the body; especially when infused with honey.
Incorporating Black Seed Oil
If you want to experience the benefits of black seed oil, there are a few tips for selecting a high-quality product:
- Choose organic, cold-pressed, unrefined black seed oil whenever possible.
- Look for a darker amber glass bottle to limit light exposure, regardless of whether you obtain it as an oil or as a capsule.
- Verify third party testing for purity and potency. At minimum, be familiar with the brand to trust it.
- Check the expiration date to ensure freshness. Not all supplement have this, but if you get it as an oil, I highly recommend you pursue the expiration date.
Look, I’m not a cook. I love to grill and I’m not great at that either. I do love my supplements. And I say that because when I miss a day of them, I feel a difference. Of course, everyone’s different; so don’t forget to check with your doctor.
Recipes with Black Seed Oil
Black Cumin Seed Oil Salad Dressing:
Create a nutritious salad dressing by combining black cumin seed oil with olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and a pinch of ground black cumin seeds. This dressing not only enhances the flavor of your salad but also provides you with the potential health benefits of Nigella sativa.
Black Cumin Seed and Honey Infusion:
Mix black cumin seeds with honey (or buy it already infused) to create an infused honey. Consuming a teaspoon of this infused honey daily may offer potential health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Take it directly or mix it into warm water or herbal tea.
Black Cumin Seed and Garlic Roasted Vegetables:
Toss your choice of vegetables (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and carrots) with black cumin seeds, garlic, olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt. Roast them in the oven for a flavorful and nutritious side dish. Garlic adds potential cardiovascular benefits to the mix.
Black Cumin Seed and Ginger Tea:
Combine black cumin seeds, freshly grated ginger, and hot water to make a soothing and health-promoting tea. Ginger is known for its potential digestive and anti-nausea properties, making this tea a comforting option.
Black Cumin Seed and Tomato Soup:
Add depth of flavor to a tomato soup by sprinkling toasted black cumin seeds on top before serving. You can also sauté them with onions and garlic at the beginning of the soup-making process for a richer taste.
You can also take black seed oil straight off the spoon or try encapsulated black seed oil (my personal preference). As an oil, straight off the spoon, start with 1 teaspoon twice a day either topically or by mouth. Gradually increase the dose to 1 tablespoon twice daily. Be sure to store the oil or the capsules in a cool, dark place between uses.
Since black seed oil can have potent effects on health, check with your doctor before using it if you take any medications or have a medical condition. Rare side effects may include allergic reactions or mild diarrhea and stomach upset when first using it.
Unleash the Healing Powers
Black seed oil is a versatile and potent natural remedy that can be used in various ways to support your health and well-being. Here are some tips to help you unleash the healing powers of black seed oil:
- Add black seed oil to your diet: You can mix black seed oil into honey, yogurt, smoothies, or juices. You can also take it straight off the spoon or try encapsulated black seed oil. Start with 1 teaspoon twice a day either topically or by mouth. Gradually increase the dose to 1 tablespoon twice daily.
- Use black seed oil topically: Applying black seed oil to your skin or hair can help improve moisture retention, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, help clear acne, and soothe overall skin inflammation. The fatty acids and antioxidants in black seed oil nourish the scalp, help reduce dandruff, add shine to hair, and may even promote hair growth.
- Choose high-quality black seed oil: When purchasing black seed oil, look for a high-quality product from a reputable brand. Choose organic, cold-pressed, unrefined black seed oil, and verify third-party testing for purity and potency. Look for a darker amber glass bottle to limit light exposure and check the expiration date to ensure freshness.
Incorporating black seed oil into your wellness routine may provide potential health benefits while embracing the spiritual connection it holds in Islamic tradition. As always, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.
Black seed oil is a remarkable remedy from nature’s bounty that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems. Modern science is now confirming many of the traditional uses of black seed oil, indicating that it may offer evidence-based health benefits such as supporting immune health, heart health, brain health, anti-cancer effects, skin health, and hair health. Based on all the sources cited in this article, and many others, it came as a surprise to not find black seed oil mentioned in my 5th edition “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” by Phyllis A. Balch. Maybe I need to get the 6th edition?
When considering black seed oil supplementation, there are various formats available to choose from, depending on personal preferences and needs. Some common formats include liquid, capsules, and softgels. It is essential to choose a high-quality product from a reputable brand that is cold-pressed and has undergone third-party testing to ensure purity and potency. Look for a darker amber glass bottle to limit light exposure and check the expiration date to ensure freshness. It’s also advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before adding black seed oil or any new supplement to your routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. ▪️
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