Do you need a remedy for colds, hypertension or asthma? Is your busy lifestyle upsetting your immune system and making you prone to illness, infection, and disease? This powerful herb may be the answer! The little seeds of black cumin, known as black seed, are well-known for their vast array of therapeutic benefits that can treat almost any condition. It’s history as a potent remedy has been well documented. Black seed has been mentioned in the bible, talked about by the Prophet Muhammad, and a bottle of its oil has even been found in King Tut’s tomb!
What is black seed?
This remarkable bunch of seeds comes from Nigella sativa of the plant family Ranunculaceae. Also referred to as the fennel flower plant,
this simple herb has been around for centuries and is well-known in Arabian traditional medicine, also being used in Far East Asia and Europe. Known as “Habbatul Barakah” in Islam and Arabic which means “the seed of blessing,” it is a longstanding traditional remedy for a huge number of ailments such as fever, gas pain, digestive ailments, cough, jaundice, skin diseases, inflammatory conditions, diarrhea, and a host of many other conditions.
The plant is an annual flowering plant, with linear leaves and dainty pale blue to white flowers. The ripe fruit capsule yields the numerous black seeds
from which the oil containing the active medicinal principles of the plant is extracted.
Scientifically-proven medicinal benefits
Black seed and its oil have been studied extensively, with various studies validating most of its traditional uses and properties.
Anticancer and anti-tumor properties
Research studies on its anti-cancer properties have found out that the growth of certain cancer cells, when pre-exposed to black seed oil, were more easily
inhibited when acted upon by anti-cancer drugs. Various cancer cell types (colon, larynx, lung and pancreatic cancer cells) along with a number of tumor
cells, were also subjected to treatment with black seed oil, showing successful inhibition of these cancers. In mice and rats with induced carcinogenesis
and tumors, the oil has been shown to inhibit skin carcinogenesis. Results from these studies showed that the oil possesses a cytotoxic activity against cancer cells, thus yielding a
promising treatment against various cancers and tumors.
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties
A number of conditions, like allergy and asthma, involve inflammatory reactions. Black seed extracts have been tested for their anti-inflammatory effect in various animal models, observing that it was able to decrease the occurrence
of swelling, edema and thus, inflammation. Clinical trials have been conducted on patients with allergic rhinitis using black seed oil. The substance was
found to effectively decrease nasal congestion and itching, runny nose and sneezing, demonstrating its potential in anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy
As a cure-all, black seed and its extracts have also been known traditionally to treat certain symptoms associated with diabetes, which manifests as high
blood glucose levels. Black seed oil, together with its active principles, was tested on diabetic animal models, and has been observed toreduce the high levels of blood sugar. Other studies have also been able observe its ability to regulate insulin activity, which may be its possible mechanism in lowering blood sugar levels.
Studies on animal models have also demonstrated the effects of black seed oil in boosting immune system functions. A study observed that black seed oil restored the
resistance of mice against lethal infections after being exposed to immunosupressants and opportunistic microorganisms which cause infection during states
of low immunity. Also, black seed oil has been found to induce production of more antibodies after vaccination.
Antibacterial and anti-fungal properties
Black seed has also been used traditionally to cure various ailments that are known today to be associated with certain bacterial or fungal infections. Antibacterial studies using black seed extracts
have found that its extracts have the ability to kill bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, notorious
organisms for causing a variety of skin and soft tissue infections. Another study has also tested its activity against Helicobacter pylori, the
organism responsible for a percentage of peptic ulcer cases, and has found the seed extract to be effective in its eradication.
Additionally, the seed extract has also been tested for its antifungal properties. Fungi like Candida albicans can cause a variety of skin and systemic infections, and black seed can be used as treatment for such. Other fungi that cause
skin infections like Trichophyton, Epidermophyton and Microsporum are also viable targets for black seed’s ability to kill and eradicate fungi.
Antihypertensive and lipid-lowering properties
Aside from its various other uses, black seed oil may be beneficial for those patients with mild hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Studies have found that
oral treatment with black seed has demonstrated blood pressure-lowering effects comparable to
those of other antihypertensive drugs like diltiazem. It has also brought about a decrease in bad cholesterol levels in the body, while
boosting amounts of the good type of lipids.
What gives black seed its medicinal benefits?
As early as 1956, various phytochemical studies have established the presence of certain active principles present in black seed and its oil. Some of these
main components are thymoquinone and dithymoquinone, which are mostly responsible for a number of its therapeutic effects, nigellone which has been studied
for its anti-histamine properties, and other compounds like volatile oils, certain fatty acids and some alkaloids in small amounts.
How to take it?
Traditionally, black seed was used in powdered or oil form, and was taken with honey or other fluids. Today, black seed oil is also available in bottled or capsule form and can be obtained from most health stores. For skin conditions, a small amount of the oil is rubbed onto the skin and allowed to remain until absorbed.
If you intend to take black seed oil, make sure that you do not have conditions that may interact with the oil’s effects. Pregnant women, people with low blood pressure, and those with bleeding conditions are discouraged from taking this supplement.
Whether you have any of the conditions mentioned above, or you simply wish to boost your immune system to fight off infections and disease, black seed oil may be an excellent option for you.