Herbal medicine has been around for centuries in the treatment of many diseases and conditions. In some cases, the use of these plants can be a better alternative for people.
What is Black Seed Oil and is it Beneficial to Your Health?
Black seed oil is one of the well-known and widely used forms of treatment for several different ailments.
Black seed oil is made from Nigella sativa, a small flowering shrub with purple or white-tinged flowers that grow in Eastern and Southern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Western Asia. The shrub produces fruits that have tiny black seeds which have been used in remedies for thousands of years. It is an important drug in the Indian traditional systems of medicine like Unani and Ayurveda. Black seed is also known as:
- Black caraway
- Black cumin
- Black onion seed; and
The oil is commonly called black cumin seed oil, which is very different from true cumin (Cuminum cyminum). It is also important not to confuse black seed oil with black pepper, black sesame or black cohosh.
Many active compounds have been isolated, identified and reported in different varieties of black seeds. The most important active compounds include thymoquinone (TQ), alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, and crude fiber, among many others. The seeds also contain a good number of various vitamins and minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc, iron and more. These compounds in the black seed oil help to provide the many potential health benefits.
What are the Health Benefits of Black Seed Oil?
The sections below look deeper into some of the many health benefits from current research.
- Scientists from Croatia discovered that the phytochemicals found in black seed oil resulted in a 52% decrease in tumor cells.
- In vitro research also reveals that TQ helps induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in leukemia cells, breast cancer cells and brain tumor cells.
- Potential therapeutic roles have shown promising results in cancers such as pancreatic, osteosarcoma, bladder, breast, colon, skin, and lung cancers.
- Strong antifungal activity against Candida albicans, a yeast that can overgrow in the body and lead to candidiasis, has been seen in studies.
- Some of the most promising research has shown the effectiveness of black seed oil against several multi-drug-resistant bacteria strains.
- One study provided evidence that black seed oil may possibly help slow down or stop Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA, a common “superbug”) from spreading out of control.
- Research has shown that the effect of black seed oil appears more pronounced on fasting blood sugar levels, postprandial blood glucose levels, hemoglobin-A1c levels, and lipid profiles. These effects can prevent diabetes complications including atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.
Research regarding black seed oil and its effects on cardiovascular activity have shown hypoglycemic and hypotensive effects as well as modulating lipid profiles in patients with dyslipidemia.
- One review that looked at 19 clinical trials concluded that the use of black seed oil can improve the lipid profile and prevent cardiovascular diseases in both healthy people and hyperlipidemic patients.
- Black seed oil has shown to possibly help lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, blood sugar (which in turn protects the heart), blood pressure, and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
Immune system modulation is one of the most important properties of Nigella sativa, and several studies have been done in order to prove this significant effect. One review article looked at five studies that directly showed the immunomodulatory effect of Nigella sativa.
- Other investigations have demonstrated that Nigella sativa may be an optimum choice for treating patients with allergy-related diseases, such as asthma, atopic eczema and allergic rhinitis.
- Certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and many other autoimmune conditions are among the many diseases and conditions that may benefit.
Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects
Black seed oil, specifically its constituent TQ, has been shown to have amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, relieving inflammation inside the body and on the skin.
- Studies have shown that Nigella sativa and TQ may inhibit inflammatory cytokines and provide antiarthritic activity, have protective effects on lipid peroxidation, and reduce oxidative stress.
Weight Loss Effects/Anti-Obesity Effects
- A systematic review published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders discovered that black seed oil was among the most effective natural remedies on the planet for anti-obesity properties.
- Another systematic review and meta-analysis revealed the ability of the black seed supplement to help lower body weight. Decreased BMI and waist circumference were also seen.
Black seed oil has several applications and benefits for problematic dermatological conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, skin pigmentation (vitiligo), skin hypersensitivity, wound healing, and alopecia.
Possible Side Effects
Overall, several studies have found black seed oil to be safe. However, there are a few studies that have found some potential side effects. There is a possibility that black seed oil can increase the effects of medicines that the body processes through the cytochrome p450 pathway.
Examples of medications include beta-blockers like metoprolol (Lopressor) and the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin). Taking too much black seed oil can be harmful to your liver and kidneys as well. Proper dosing and further studies are recommended. Allergic reactions may also occur with topical black seed oil. Make sure to do a patch test before applying it to a large area on your skin.
Black seeds can be used as a spice or as an herbal medicine (both orally and topically). The seeds of Nigella sativa and their oil have been widely used for centuries in the treatment of various ailments throughout the world. They are also used in food like flavoring additives in breads and pickles due to their low levels of toxicity.
Black seed oil can be used topically, but always make sure to dilute it with a few teaspoons of a carrier oil, like almond or coconut oil. Black seed oil can be added to homemade massage oils and lotions, as well as shampoo and conditioner, to experience the many health benefits.
Black seed oil can be purchased at most health stores and pharmacies. It is often packaged into capsules for daily consumption and it is also sold as an oil.
Recommendations and Considerations
Some researchers suggest further investigations of Nigella sativa with larger samples and groups, diverse doses and longer periods of study as many studies show conflicting results. More clinical studies are needed as well in order to establish more sound results and recommendations.
There aren’t any specific recommendations for how much black seed oil to take and the appropriate dosage can vary by individual and health status. If choosing a product with individual packaging, follow the recommended dose given. It is also recommended to stop taking black seed oil at least two weeks prior to any surgery date.
Make sure to store black seed oil away from any heat and light and keep out of reach of children. The FDA does not monitor herbs and supplements, so it is important to research and use reputable brands.
Make sure to talk with your doctor before you begin taking black seed oil, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, currently taking any medication or have a medical condition.
Black seed oil has been widely used for centuries in the treatment of various ailments throughout the world and studies have shown many potential health benefits with little side effects recorded. However, more research is needed to provide sound evidence for its therapeutic use and dosage recommendations.
If you are planning to use black seed oil, make sure to check with your doctor beforehand and use a reputable brand.
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