Learn about all the benefits of black cumin seed.
Black cumin seed oil, nigella sativa, is one of the most ancient healing balms. The Assyrians in ancient Egypt took this native seed to treat stomach ailments and also used it topically to treat inflammation of the skin such as rashes, bites, sores, and also to treat the eyes, nose, and mouth. The Egyptians learned from the neighbors and incorporated, the oil as an alm for stomach issues and to nourish the skin. A bottle of the oil was even found near Tutankhamun’s tomb!
The famous Greek physician Dioscorides, of the first century, used black cumin seeds to treat headaches, toothaches, nasal congestion, and intestinal worms. Ibn Sina, aka Avicenna, a famous first century Persian healer and author of the famous Book of Healing recommended black seed cumin as a cure for headaches, fever, toothaches, and common colds. He also wrote about how the seed fuels the body with energy and has preventative and restorative qualities. He describes it as a soothing agent for skin disorders, wounds, and external irritations.
There is mention of these Middle Eastern seeds in the Bible and the Prophet Muhammed said: “In the black seed is healing for every disease except death.” India, the home of Ayurveda, used the seed as digestive aid, metabolic enhancer, and for gastrointestinal issues.
Despite the wealth of historical lore, researchers didn’t begin focusing on black cumin seed until a little over 40 years ago. Since then, there have been about 800 studies conducted in universities verifying the healing properties of this seed. With a hundred different chemical constituents, including abundant sources of all the essential fatty acids, black cumin seeds are jam-packed with beneficial goodness. Its active compounds, crystalline nigellone and thymoquinone, have shown to have the most benefit.
Yet these little seeds also contain myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, proteins and vitamins B1, B2,B3, calcium, folate, iron, copper, zinc and phosphorous. They’re also an excellent source for Omega-3 fatty acids.
According to Garik Mkrtumyan, the co-founder of Zatik, “There is a higher shelf life to the Omega-3 in black cumin seeds than other sources of Omega-3.” One recent study even shows that black cumin oil is more effective than the Omega-3s in fish oil.
Studies have shown that the percentage of phytochemical content in black cumin seeds can vary greatly, depending on the region in which they’re grown. According to Mkrtumyan, “the most premium quality black cumin seeds which have the highest phytochemical content come from Tunisia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. This has to do with the harvest and climate times.”
Top Benefits Of Black Cumin Seed Oil:
1. Relief of allergies and asthma: Many studies have shown how black cumin seed oil alleviates asthma, allergies, and other respiratory issues. The seed’s thymoquinone is shown in one study to be superior to the drug fluticasone in an animal model of asthma. In a study tested on human subjects, boiled water extracts of black seed showed a potent anti-asthmatic effect on asthmatic airways. Another randomized, placebo-controlled human study of chemical weapons injured patients found that boiled water extracts of black seed reduced respiratory symptoms, chest wheezing, and pulmonary function test values, as well as reduced the need for drug treatment.
According to Mkrtumyan, “Research’s strongest claim with the black cumin seed oil has to do with its healing benefits to the respiratory system. My son suffers from allergies and I have asthma and we see a direct benefit from continued use of the oil. The recommended dosage is 2 0r 3 teaspoons taken twice a day – but this amount can vary based on the season and the needs of the individual.”
2. Immune System Boost: Black cumin seeds contains antioxidants, beneficial acids and b-vitamins that balance the immune system. They have been found superior to almost every other natural remedy when used for autoimmune disorders. One study on rats found that black cumin seeds increased the immune response. Also, while herbs such as echenesia and elderberry can be dangerous for those with autoimmune disease. But according to studies and personal testimonies, black cumin seeds seem to balance the immune system increasing immune function but not encouraging immune reactions against the body’s healthy tissue. Another case presentation study highlights the complete recovery and sero-reversion of adult HIV patient after treatment with Nigella sativa concoction for the period of six months.
3. Anti-cancerous: Many studies show the reduction of cancer tumor linked to black cumin seed oil. In one study, the anticancer properties of black cumin seed were shown to cause a direct reduction of breast cancer cells. The thymoquinone in black seed has been shown to help induce apoptosis (cell death) in leukemia cells. Other studies have shown this same effect in brain tumor cells, cervical and pancreatic cancer, and oral cancer cells and cavity-forming bacteria (7). Black seed oil is also sometimes recommended as a natural protection against some of the danger from radiation and used in conjunction with conventional treatments.
In cases of colon caner, cell studies have found that black seed extract compares favorably to the chemoagent 5-fluoruracil in the suppression of the cancer’s growth, but with a far higher safety profile. Further research on rats also showed how black seed’s significant inhibitory effects, without observable side effects.
4. Anti-Inflammatory: According to Mkrtumyan, the oil of the black seed has shown anti-inflammatory properties “on several inflammation-based models including experimental encephalomyelitis, colitis, peritonitis, oedama, and arthritis through suppression of the inflammatory mediators prostaglandins and leukotriens.” One French study as well as another study in Iran showed how black cumin seeds’s thymoquinone strongly inhibits fMLF-induced neutrophil functions and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties in vivo. Another study demonstrated that thymoquinone inhibits inflammation induced activation of MAPKs, NF-KB and ROS generation followed by suppressing the gene expression of c-Fos and NFATc1 in osteoclast precursors.
5. Anti-microbial: Mkrtumyan attests that “black seed may also have benefits in fighting unwanted microbes including “bacteria, viruses, helminths, and fungus.” Once again, thymoquinone has shown to be the active ingredient that goes to war against harmful microbes in our body.
MRSA has even been wiped out by black cumin oil. Here’s one study that links this to the thymoquionone in black cumin seeds. Another study conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College researchers set out to determine just how potent black seed oil is against some of these superbugs and pared it against several antibiotics such as Amoxicillin, Gatifloxacin, and Tetracycline. According to the study, “Out of 144 strains tested, most of which were resistant to a number of antibiotics, 97 were inhibited by the oil of black cumin.”
6. Digestive Aid: These powerful little seeds are carminative, meaning they aid in digestion and may decrease gas, bloating and stomach pain. Intestinal parasites have been successful fought off with this oil. One study traced the gastroprotective properties of black seed to thymoquoinone. One study showed how black seed inhibits the growth of colon cancer cells with no negative side effects.
7. Improves the Quality of Hair, Skin, and Nails: For centuries, black cumin seed oil was used topically to soften, strengthen and firm skin and help increase hair growth. It minimizes dark spots on the face and discoloration. It can encourage better moisture-retention, giving hair more luster and body. However, Mkrtumyan’s findings show that “some of the essential components of the oil can cause irritation when used topically. The same benefits can be derived from the oil when taken internally, without any irritation or side-effects.” There have en been studies on the seed as a useful remedy against scars and to prevent scar formation on wounds.
8. Heals skin problems like eczema and psoriasis: Black seed oil has also proved to be very beneficial for those who suffer from skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. According to a recent study, it helps sooth inflammation and improve the speed and which skin heals.
9. Cardiovascular Benefits: Studies have also shown that black seed’s thymoquinone has a protective effect on the heart. Other studies show how it promotes healthy cholesterol levels and a study shows how it normalizes blood pressure.
10. Inhibits Candida and fungus growth: Multiple studies show how black seed oil helps battle candida and fungal infections both externally, on the skin, and internally, in the digestive system. An in vitro study showed how black seed prevented the grown of Candida on Soft Denture Reliner.
Linda Miriam Aziz-Zadeh is a freelance writer and editor who is passionate about preserving the natural beauty and wonder of our bodies, this planet, and the world. She is the cofounder of Crunchy Buzz, a digital wellness marketing firm that serves the health and wellness industry.
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