Black seeds come from a small plant with purple, blue and white flowers called Nigella sativa. They are native to Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Middle Eastern countries. Some of the seeds’ other names include black caraway, black cumin and kalonji.
People have been using black seed oil for a long time. They were predominantly used for cooking and cosmetic purposes. When pressed into oil, people use it as a natural remedy.
Why should you use black seed oil?
Modern science is now catching up to the benefits of this ancient alternative medicine. Studies have shown that black seed oil contains thymoquinone, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. This compound may be responsible for many of black seed oil’s healing effects.
However, most of these studies have been conducted on extracted cells and animals. There is very little research exploring its direct effects on the human body. Still, what little data can be found on its health benefits show that black seed oil can offer the following health benefits:
1. Seasonal allergies
Using black seed oil as nasal drops may help people find relief from seasonal allergies. In one small study, most of its participants reported alleviated symptoms of hay fever, including a runny nose, sneezing and itchiness. (Related: Will black seed oil make risky asthma medication obsolete?)
Recent studies have found that thymoquinone can kill several types of cancer cells by inducing apoptosis or programmed cell death. Some of these cancers include brain cancer, leukemia and breast cancer.
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However, these tests were conducted on cells in controlled laboratory environments. Researchers have yet to confirm black seed oil’s effectiveness in vivo.
In an animal study, researchers found that black seed oil exhibited anti-diabetic properties. These include reducing blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels while promoting the release of insulin. Researchers also noted that there were no significant side effects. They hoped to conduct clinical trials exploring its effects on diabetic patients.
Iranian researchers found that black seed oil could improve semen quality of infertile men. For two months, one group of participants took 2.5 ml of black seed oil twice daily, while the control group took no supplements. Their findings revealed that the black seed oil group had improved sperm count, motility and semen volume without any adverse effects.
5. Liver and kidney function
In one study conducted on rats, researchers discovered that black seed oil reduced the markers oxidative stress in the liver and the kidneys. This may lead to a reduced risk of diseases. Researchers pointed out that more studies are needed to further understand the molecular mechanisms underlying this effect.
6. Rheumatoid arthritis
One small study from Cairo University in Egypt showed that black seed oil supplementation could help alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Participants reported less swollen joints and decreased duration of morning stiffness after taking black seed oil capsules. Researchers considered the possibility of using black seed oil as an alternative remedy to supplement RA therapy.
7. Skin health
Black seed oil is known to help treat a number of skin-related conditions, including:
- Acne – Research suggests that applying lotion comprised of 10 percent black seed oil may reduce acne in a period of two months.
- Eczema – A clinical study found that the effects of topical application of black seed oil are comparable to medicinal ointments for hand eczema.
- Psoriasis – This is a skin condition that forms scales and itchy red patches on the surface of the skin. A study on mice found that black seed oil may help treat this condition.
- Wounds – In various animal studies, topically applying black seed oil helped accelerate the wounds’ healing process.
8. Weight loss
A systematic review published in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders found that black seed oil exhibited anti-obesity effects. These included significant decreases in body weight and waist and hip circumference.
Overall, black seed oil has exhibited several positive effects that may be beneficial to the body. Make sure to first check with your healthcare provider before applying it directly to the skin or taking supplements. Some people have reported allergic rashes in response to black seed oil, so it is best to always consult first.