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Commonly known as Black cumin seed, Nigella sativa is a plant native in South Asia. Because of its amazing healing power, it is often considered a ‘panacea’ as it can be used for a wide range of disease and ailments.
Of the various ways that black seed oil helps the body, the following top the list of its health benefits based on well-established and solid medical evidences.
Most of black seed oil’s medicinal actions have been found to be from thymoquinone (TQ), the major compound of the essential oil. It is considered as a powerful antioxidant, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic agent. Thymoquinone has been found to restore the levels of glutathione, lactate dehydrogenase and superoxide dismutase in animal studies.
The antioxidant activity of black seed oil is believed to protect tissues from injury due to radiation, however, it isn’t clear if it could affect radiation therapy.
Further, TQ has been shown to reduce the incidence of stomach tumors. The possible mechanism may be by promoting apoptosis (cell death) by inhibiting cancer cell growth and inhibiting DNA synthesis.
Black seed oil’s thymoquinone anti-cancer abilities could be through a number of mechanisms.
- Induce apoptosis or cell death
- Inhibit cell cycle
- Inhibit blood vessel growth
- Inhibit cancer cell proliferation
- Prevent metastasis or spread of cancer to other organs
A study at the University of King Faisal, Saudi Arabia has found that taking 2 grams of black seed extract daily may help decrease high blood glucose level in type 2 diabetics. Researchers observed that the fasting blood glucose levels of the patients reduced by a mean of 62mg/100ml within 4 to 6 weeks.
In addition, a number of animal and human studies suggests that N. sativa oil could be a beneficial adjunct therapy for diabetes medications. People with diabetes and glucose intolerance may benefit from black seed oil due its various anti-diabetic mechanisms such as:
- Reduces appetite
- Improves glucose tolerance as efficiently as metformin
- Reduces liver gluconeogenesis, a metabolic process of producing glucose
- Reduce blood glucose level
- Increase insulin sensitivity
Atherosclerosis is a leading heart disease due to chronic inflammation and chronic high blood cholesterol level.
In an animal study on the effect of N. sativa oil and seed powder on atherosclerosis in comparison with Simvastatin, researchers have found that the group fed with N. sativa extract exhibited significant reduction of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol).
Further, plaque formation on the blood vessel wall significantly reduced. The research concluded that black seed powder or oil showed anti-atherogenic, heart-protective and cholesterol-lowering properties.
With this effect, black seed oil can lower the risk of strokes, heart attacks and other artery diseases.
It has been found that certain conventional asthma medications can increase the risk of severe, life-threatening asthma flares. With this, the need for safer asthma solutions has never been more apparent.
In a recent study on the effect of N. sativa supplementation for asthma control, N. sativa oil capsules, 500 mg, were given twice a day for 4 weeks. The placebo group were given the same amount of olive oil. Patients were monitored and were tested using Asthma Control Test. Other tests include blood eosinophil count (to measure the amount of white blood cells to determine infection or allergic reaction), pulmonary function test and total serum IgE ( a test to measure the quantity of Immunoglobulin E, a marker of allergic reaction).
After four weeks, results of the study revealed that the N. sativa group exhibited a marked improvement in average Asthma Control Test score and a significant decline in blood eosinophils. Researchers concluded that N. sativa oil supplementation may improve asthma control, manifested by improvement in pulmonary function. This was attributed to a remarkable level of blood eosinophils.
The effectiveness of black seed oil for improving skin condition such as psoriasis, eczema and even skin cancer is well established. N. sativa oil is loaded with valuable nutrients such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, Vitamins A, B and C that are important nutritive factors for the skin’s repair and recovery.
Black seed oil has several useful abilities that makes it a practical option for treating certain skin disorders.
Psoriasis. This is a skin condition characterized by scaly plaques that can be itchy and sore. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction of the body, causing abnormal proliferation of skin epidermis. Traditionally, black seeds have been used topically for psoriatic skin to ease general pain and manage eruption.
In a study on the effect of black seed extract on animal model with psoriasis, results revealed a significant reduction of epidermal thickness, which means black seed oil extract can retard abnormal proliferation of skin cells. Black seed oil effect has been found to be comparable to 0.1% tazarotene gel – a retinoid product used for psoriasis that works on the growth of skin cells.
Eczema. This skin condition is characterized by itchy, inflamed skin that can crust. Conventional treatment for eczema is steroid creams. Black seed oil has a rich emollient texture that forms a non-greasy film to protect the skin and provide nourishing factors for the skin.
In a clinical trial that compared the effects of Black seed oil to Betamethasone, a conventional steroid cream, it has been found that both are equally effective in managing the symptoms. The best part of using black seed oil is that it has no side effects compared to steroid cream.
Millions of people are suffering from inflammation and pain. Taking conventional pain reliever pills for arthritis is an ever-present temptation. Unfortunately, pain relievers such as ibuprofen are not completely safe and may cause side effects.
Black seed oil can be used to address arthritis pain and inflammation. In a crossover clinical trial between black seed oil and oral acetaminophen in reducing knee pain among elderly patients, researchers found that topical application of N. sativa oil is more effective than oral acetaminophen. After using the oil 3 times a day for 3 weeks, the reduction of pain was much higher compared to the pain-relieving tablet.
Thymoquinone, the main component of black seed oil has shown anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase – the inflammatory mediators that trigger the release of prostaglandins.
Allergies are another form of condition with inflammation as the primary pathological mechanism. During an allergic reaction, the interleukin 5 and 13 contribute in triggering specific inflammatory cells such as eosinophils and basophils. Thymoquinone has been found to hinder Interleukin 5 and 13 expression.
In a study on the effect of black seed oil among patients with allergic rhinitis, results showed significant reduction of nasal itching, runny nose, presence of nasal mucosal congestion, turbinate hypertrophy, sneezing attacks and mucosal pallor after two weeks. Researchers concluded that N. sativa should be considered as an anti-allergy treatment when the effects of conventional antiallergic medications need to be avoided.
Black seed oil can also fight opportunistic pathogens in the body, including bacteria that are resistant to conventional antibiotics. In a study that looked at methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, researchers found the potent anti-bacterial action of black seed oil extract against all strains of MRSA.
In addition, there is a solid evidence that the use of N. sativa oil against Helicobacter pylori, the one responsible for most duodenal and gastric ulcers, is as effective as mainstream drugs. Aside from bacteria, black seed oil is also potent against fungi and yeast. It has been reported that both black seed extract and oil can inhibit Candida albicans
An extensive observational French study conducted from 1989 to 2005 among 26,000 men revealed one-third reduction of sperm count, with a similar reduction in healthy sperm. Such decline had been projected to continue in years to come.
Smoking, diet, environmental toxins, stress, obesity and tight underwear were suggested as the causes for this worrying trend. Male infertility is the leading cause of about 20 percent of sub-fertile couples. With this, more and more men are seeking safe, effective and natural means to improve sperm quality and count.
Black seed oil’s effect on the blood cholesterol and triglycerides has been thought to influence male fertility. High levels of triglycerides and cholesterol are linked with poor semen quality, as well as testicular dysfunction that may lead to male infertility.
In a study on the effect of black seed oil on male fertility of hyperlipidemic and normal rats, results showed that both groups of rats improved their fertility index, exhibited by an increase in testosterone level, seminal vesicle weight, sperm count and motility, and an overall reduction in sperm abnormalities.
Researcher concluded that the use of black seed oil may improve reproductive efficiency and may even provide protection from cholesterol-induced dysfunction of fertility.
Many people who use black seed oil for diabetes or high blood cholesterol level vouch that is it effective in battling obesity. A human trial tested the effects of black seed oil on obese men validated its beneficial effects for shedding excess weight.
In a double-blind randomized trial, a group of overweight men aged between 30 and 50 were given black seed oil and placebo for three months. Subjects were evaluated on a weekly basis. Results of the study showed that the black seed oil group had experienced a marked reduction of weight and waist circumference as compared to the placebo group.
Black seed oil works for weight loss by boosting metabolism, improving total cholesterol level and reducing low density lipoprotein or the bad cholesterol.
The list above is only a few of the countless benefits this oil has to offer. You may think it is far-fetched for a humble herb to provide this vast number of benefits, we now know that the medical evidences speak for themselves.
With all the surprising health benefits of this amazing plant, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have black seed oil in your home.