search
Health Insiders
Black Seed Oil: The Unbiased Scientific Truth, Evidence-Based Health Benefits, Side Effects and More

Black Seed Oil: The Unbiased Scientific Truth, Evidence-Based Health Benefits, Side Effects and More

A comprehensive and scientific look at black seed oil, its potential health benefits, side-effects, uses and current recommendations and considerations.

black seed oil

A review on therapeutic potential of Black Seed Oil (Nigella sativa). Image Source: Shutterstock

 

Introduction

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.
 

Background

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[1]. It is an important drug in the Indian traditional systems of medicine like Unani and Ayurveda[2]. Black seed is also known as[1]:

  • Black caraway
  • Black cumin
  • Black onion seed; and
  • Kalonji

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[2][3][4][5]. These compounds in the black seed oil help to provide the many potential health benefits.
 

What are the Health Benefits of Black Seed Oil?

Most of the therapeutic properties are due to the presence of thymoquinone (TQ) which is a major active chemical component of the essential oil[2][6].

Several human and animal studies show that Nigella sativa and its ingredients have a wide range of pharmacological effects, including immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, anti-hypertensive, anti-asthmatic, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antioxidant, anti-cancer, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, neuroprotective and renal protective effects, among many others[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8].

The sections below look deeper into some of the many health benefits from current research.
 

Anti-Cancer

Many studies have shown positive results regarding black seed oil and anticancer activity, which are likely due to the potent phytochemicals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory capabilities[1][2].

Numerous studies have shown that TQ has therapeutic potential in the management of human health as well as in the prevention of cancer via modulation of genetic cascades[2][9].

  • Scientists from Croatia discovered that the phytochemicals found in black seed oil resulted in a 52% decrease in tumor cells[2][10].
  • In vitro research also reveals that TQ helps induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in leukemia cells, breast cancer cells and brain tumor cells[2][11].
  • Potential therapeutic roles have shown promising results in cancers such as pancreatic, osteosarcoma, bladder, breast, colon, skin, and lung cancers[2][9][12].

 

Antimicrobial Effects

Black seed oil has been shown to have many antimicrobial effects, including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic effects[3][5][7][8].

  • Strong antifungal activity against Candida albicans, a yeast that can overgrow in the body and lead to candidiasis, has been seen in studies[1][2].
  • Some of the most promising research has shown the effectiveness of black seed oil against several multi-drug-resistant bacteria strains[6][13].
  • 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[6][14].

 

Anti-diabetic Effects

Black seed oil may prove clinically useful in the treatment of diabetes and in the protection of β-cells against oxidative stress[2][15].

  • 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[4][5][15][16]. These effects can prevent diabetes complications including atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases[4].

 

Cardiovascular Effects

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[5].

  • 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[5].
  • 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[1][6][16][17][18][19].

 

Immunomodulatory Effects

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[5].

  • 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[5].
  • 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[1].

  • 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[2].

 

Weight Loss Effects/Anti-Obesity Effects

A reduction of body weight has been seen in obese patients, as well as a reduction in metabolic syndrome parameters[5][6].

  • 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[6][20].
  • 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[6][21].

 

Dermatological Effects

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[1][3][22].
 

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)[1][2][6]. Taking too much black seed oil can be harmful to your liver and kidneys as well. Proper dosing and further studies are recommended[1][8]. 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[1][6].

During one study, contact dermatitis developed after topical application of black seed oil, however, it may have been due to some impurity in the commercial black seed oil[3][23].
 

Uses

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[2].

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 has a peppery scent and works well as a base note in homemade fragrances with oils. A high-quality (100% pure, therapeutic-grade and certified USDA organic) black seed oil can be used in all kinds of recipes, from meat main courses to soups and stews. It can also be added to beverages like chai tea lattes and smoothies. Its spicy flavor can add to many dishes[6].

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[1].
 

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[5].

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[1][6].

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.
 

Conclusion

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.

Feedback:

References

Health Insiders uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

1. Nall R. Black Seed Oil Benefits: For Health. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/black-seed-oil-benefits. Published March 8, 2019. Accessed March 20, 2020.
2. Ahmad A, Husain A, Mujeeb M, Khan SA, Najmi AK, Siddique NA, Damanhouri ZA, Anwar F. A review on therapeutic potential of Nigella sativa: a miracle herb. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013;3(5):337-352. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60075-1.
3. Aljabre SHM, Alakloby OM, Randhawa MA. Dermatological effects of Nigella sativa. Journal of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery. 2015;19:92-98. doi:10.1016/j.jdds.2015.04.002.
4. Heshmati J, Namazi N. Effects of black seed (Nigella sativa) on metabolic parameters in diabetes mellitus: A systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2015;23:275-282. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2015.01.013.
5. Tavakkoli A, Mahdian V, Razavi BM, Hosseinzadeh H. Review on clinical trials of black seed (Nigella sativa) and its active constituent, thymoquinone. Journal of Pharmacopuncture. 2017;20(3):179-193. https://doi.org/10.3831/KPI.2017.20.021.
6. Axe J. The Powerful Medicinal Oil with Virtually No Side Effects. Dr. Axe. https://draxe.com/nutrition/black-seed-oil-benefits/. Published February 10, 2020. Accessed March 21, 2020.
7. Tavakkoli A, Ahmadi A, Razavi BM, Hosseinzadeh H. Black seed (Nigella sativa) and its constituent thymoquinone as an antidote or a protective agent against natural or chemical toxicities. Iran J Pharm Res. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963642/#__ffn_sectitle. Published 2017. Accessed March 23, 2020.
8. Kooti W, Hasanzadeh-Noohi Z, Sharafi-Ahvazi N, Asadi-Samani M, Ashtary-Larky D. Phytochemistry, pharmacology, and therapeutic uses of black seed (Nigella sativa). Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines. 2016;14(10):0732-0745.
9. Rahmani AH, Alzohairy MA, Khan MA, Aly SM. Therapeutic implications of black seed and its constituent thymoquinone in the prevention of cancer through inactivation and activation of molecular pathways. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;724658:13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/724658.
10. Ivankovic S, Stojkovic R, Jukic M, Milos M, Milos M, Jurin M. The antitumor activity of thymoquinone and thymohydroquinone in vitro and in vivo. Exp Oncol. 2006;28(3):220-224.
11. Salim LZA, Mohan S, Othman R, Abdelwahab SI, Kamalidehghan B, Sheikh BY, Ibrahim MY. Thymoquinone induces mitochondria-mediated apoptosis in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in vitro. Molecules. 2013;18(9):11219-11240. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules180911219.
12. An Herbal Extract Inhibits the Development of Pancreatic Cancer. Clinical Education. http://www.clinicaleducation.org/resources/abstracts/an-herbal-extract-inhibits-the-development-of-pancreatic-cancer/. Published May 14, 2009. Accessed March 21, 2020.
13. Salman MT, Khan R, Shukla, I. Antimicrobial activity of Nigella sativa Linn. seed oil against multi-drug resistant bacteria from clinical isolates. Nat. Prod. Radiance. 2008; 7(1):10-14.
14. Hannan A, Saleem S, Chaudhary S, Barkaat M, Arshad M. Anti bacterial activity of Nigella sativa against clinical isolates of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad. 2008;20(3):72-4.
15. Mathur ML, Gaur J, Sharma R, Haldiya KR. Antidiabetic properties of a spice plant Nigella sativa. Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2011;1(1):1-8. https://doi.org/10.4021/jem12e.
16. Mohtashami A, Entezari MH. Effects of Nigella sativa supplementation on blood parameters and anthropometric indices in adults: A systematic review on clinical trials. J Res Med Sci. 2016;21:3. doi:10.4103/1735-1995.175154.
17. Bensiameur-Touati K, Kacimi G, Haffaf EM, Berdja S, Aouichat-Bouguerra S. In vivo subacute toxicity and antidiabetic effect of aqueous extract of Nigella sativa. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:8427034. doi:10.1155/2017/8427034.
18. Dehkordi FR, Kamkhah AF. Antihypertensive effect of Nigella sativa seed extract in patients with mild hypertension. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2008;22(4):447-52. doi:10.1111/j.1472-8206.00607.x.
19. Shabana AM, El-Menyar A, Asim M, Al-Azzeh H, Al Thani H. Cardiovascular benefits of black cumin (Nigella sativa). Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2012. doi:10.1007/s12012-012-9181-z.
20. Hasani-Ranjbar S, Jouyandeh Z, Abdollahi M. A systematic review of anti-obesity medicinial plants – an update. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2013;12(1):28. doi:10.1186/2251-6581-12-28.
21. Namazi N, Larijani B, Ayati MH, Abdollahi M. The effects of Nigella sativa L. on obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2018;219:173-181. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2018.03.001.
22. Yousefi M, Barikbin B, Kamalinejad M, Abolhasani E, Ebadi A, Youespour S, Manoucherian M, Hejazi S. Comparison of therapeutic effect of topical Nigella with Betamethasone and Eucerin in hand eczema. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013;27(12):1498-504. doi:10.1111/jdv.12033.
23. Zedlitz S, Kaufmann R, Bohncke WH. Allergic contact dermatitis from black cumin (Nigella sativa) oil-containing ointment. Contact Dermatitis. 2002;46:188.
Author
instagram

Meghan Rittmaster, MS, RDN, LD

Meghan is a registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her areas of expertise include functional ...

READ THIS NEXT

View All
X

How helpful was it?

icon This article changed my life! icon This article was informative. icon I have a medical question. icon Ask a Question
X

How helpful was it?

icon This article changed my life! Change
Your Rating
Note: Health Insiders isn't a healthcare provider. We can't respond to health questions or give you medical advice.
Your Privacy is important to us.
X

How helpful was it?

icon This article was informative. Change
Your Rating
Note: Health Insiders isn't a healthcare provider. We can't respond to health questions or give you medical advice.
Your Privacy is important to us.
X
icon I have a medical question. Change

We’re unable to offer personal health advice, but we’ve partnered with JustAnswer who offers on-demand doctors to answer your medical questions 24/7. Talk online now with a doctor and get fast 1-on-1 answers from the comfort of your couch.

just answer logo
ASK A DOCTOR NOW

If you’re facing a medical emergency, call your local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

X

How can we improve it?

icon This article contains incorrect information. icon This article doesn’t have the information I’m looking for. icon I have a medical question. icon Ask a Question
X

How can we improve it?

icon This article contains incorrect information. Change
Your Rating
Note: Health Insiders isn't a healthcare provider. We can't respond to health questions or give you medical advice.
Your Privacy is important to us.
X

How can we improve it?

icon This article doesn’t have the information I’m looking for. Change
Your Rating
Note: Health Insiders isn't a healthcare provider. We can't respond to health questions or give you medical advice.
Your Privacy is important to us.
X
icon I have a medical question. Change

We’re unable to offer personal health advice, but we’ve partnered with JustAnswer who offers on-demand doctors to answer your medical questions 24/7. Talk online now with a doctor and get fast 1-on-1 answers from the comfort of your couch.

just answer logo
ASK A DOCTOR NOW

If you’re facing a medical emergency, call your local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

x

Have a Question? Please Tell Us What We Are Missing Here!

Find answers in product info, Q&As, reviews
Submit Your Privacy is important to us.
X

Healthinsiders.com is intended to be used for educational and information purposes only. All Health Insiders content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a board of medical experts to ensure accuracy.

In keeping with our strict quality guidelines, we only cite academic research institutions, medical authorities, or peer-reviewed studies in our content. You will be able to find links to these sources by clicking the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) that appear throughout our content.

Medical Disclaimer: This product/supplement review is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health-related diagnosis or treatment options.

Health Insiders does not assume liability for any actions undertaken after visiting these pages and does not assume liability if one misuses supplements. Healthinsiders.com and its Editors do not ensure that unforeseen side effects will not occur even at the proper dosages, and thereby does not assume liability for any side effects from supplements or practices hosted under the domain of Healthinsiders.com.

We invite you to contact us regarding any inaccuracies, information that is out of date, or any otherwise dubious content that you find on our sites via our feedback form.