A Brief History Of Black Seed Oil- The Benefits Of Adding Black Seed Oil In Your Diet – Nutritional Benefits of Black Seed Oil– Black Seed Oil Side Effects – Are There Any?
What do you use in case you’re sick or you want to improve your skin’s condition? What do you take to help you lose weight or ensure that your heart is healthy?
There are tons of pharmaceutical drugs sold nowadays that can address various health issues. Still, there is a growing number of people who prefer alternative approach or go natural.
Here’s everything you need to know about black seed oil.
Black Seed Oil, in a Nutshell
Black seed goes by the name black cumin, black caraway, nigella, Roman coriander, and fennel flower. Still, it came from the shrub Nigella sativa (N. sativa), a small flowering plant that grows in Middle East, Southwest Asia, and Southern Europe.
This flowering plant with finely divided leaves could grow between 20 and 90 centimeters tall. Its flowers are delicate, with colors ranging among pink, white, yellow, pale purple, or pale blue. On the other hand, the fruit, which contains the black seeds, is a large, inflated capsule with three to seven united follicles.
As for the seeds, it has slightly aromatic smell and comes with a bitter taste.
It is a widely used medicinal plant especially in Ayurveda, Unani and Tibb, and Siddha systems of medicine; hence often referred to as “a miracle herb.” The shrub produces fruits with tiny black seeds, which is also the basis for its name. Thereafter, oils from the seeds will be extracted, thereby resulting to black seed oil.
It may not be as common as other herbs, but black seed oil has been used for thousands of years. In fact, it is notable for its rich religious and historical background. As a result, many believed that it could help treat various conditions from asthma to cancer as well as a tool for better skin and hair.
It is also available in health stores and natural food grocers. Pharmacies also sell black seed oil, although you can get it in capsule form for daily consumption.
When buying, make sure you look for products that were certified by ConsumerLabs or NSF International. These companies test the quality of products sold in the market, thereby giving you an assurance regarding quality.
Black Seed Oil History
It is unclear as to when exactly black seed or Nigella sativa started.
Nonetheless, there are evidence showing that the earliest cultivation of this flowering plant dates back during the ancient Egyptian times. Several seeds were found in various sites in ancient Egypt, including King Tut’s tomb. This signifies that black seed played an important role during that time.
There were also seeds found inside a flask in Turkey, which dates back to second millennium BCE. By first century, Greek physician Dioscoredes reported that black seeds can treat headache, toothache, nasal congestion, and intestinal worm.
Since then, black seed oil became popular for cooking. Places in Africa, Asia, and Europe used Nigella sativa to flavor their dishes.
It was also used as traditional medicine in Persia and Middle East.
Fast forward today, not may people may be familiar with black seed oil compared to the other herbs and plants. Still, it is worth noting that it is among the healthiest ones around.
Black Seed Oil To Muslims
Black seed and its by-product black seed oil is a staple in Middle East countries. Did you know that black seed oil also has religious significance among Muslims?
For Muslims, black seed oil is considered as one of the best healing medicines. This is because according to their teachings, black seed is the remedy for all diseases. Muslims believed that Prophet Mohammad proclaimed black seed that could “cure anything but death.”
At the same time, it is recommended for use in Tibb-e-Nabwi or Prophetic Medicine. It was said that “Hold onto the use of black seed for it has a remedy for every illness except death,” pursuant to Mohammad’s teachings.
According to a study published in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, cancer patients in Saudi Arabia used black seed oil as a dietary supplement.
From then on, the black seed is used traditionally and successfully in the Middle East. Its many uses and health benefits prompted the designation, “habbatul barakah,” which means the “seed of blessing.”
Black Seed Oil Nutrition Facts
Thymoquinone is black seed oil’s most active compound, which makes up to 48 percent. It is an emerging natural drug that is:
Aside from thymoquinone, black seed also has different types of alkaloids, specifically isoquinoline and pyrazol alkaloids. It also has alpha-hederin, a water-soluble component that has potential anti-cancer properties.
It also has:
- Linoleic acid (50 to 60 percent)
- Oleic acid (20 percent)
- Eicodadienoic acid (3 percent)
- Dihomolinoleic acid (10 percent)
- Saturated fatty acids like palmitic and stearic acid (30 percent or less)
- Alpha-sitosterol, with higher concentration found in Tunisian and Iranian black seed oil variety
You can also find protein and saponins in black seed oil.
In other words, the black seed oil is packed with essential nutrients that allow you to enjoy various health benefits.
Black Seed Oil Benefits
You already use different oils, particularly the popular ones like olive and coconut oils, in your daily diet. Why add black seed oil in your daily diet?
It Is Rich In Antioxidants
You know how important antioxidants are for the body. It helps reduce inflammation and at the same time, minimizes your risk of developing various diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. More importantly, it protects the cells against possible damage caused by free radicals.
The good news is black seed oil will give you the necessary amount of antioxidants you need to keep yourself healthy.
Based on its nutritional component, thymoquinone is black seed oil’s main component. This is a potent compound that provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It also helps in protecting your brain and could help treat certain types of cancer.
Weight Loss Partner
According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity from 1999-2000 to 2017-2018 increased from 30.5 percent to 42.4 percent. This is an alarming number because obesity could lead to various conditions like stroke or cardiovascular disease.
What does obesity have to do with black seed oil?
Among its many health benefits, black seed oil is also used as an aid for weight loss. Studies showed that black seed oil reduces body mass index (BMI) among obese individuals. Consequently, it lowers your risk of having metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
To prove this claim, a study published in Food & Function showed how effective black seed oil is against obesity. For eight weeks, all obese participants were given low-calorie diet. However, one group is placebo while the other group added three grams of black seed oil everyday.
When the study concluded, experts found out that the group who took black seed oil lost more weight and waist circumference compared to the placebo group.
Still, further studies are needed to ensure black seed oil’s effectiveness in the weight loss department.
Helps Against Asthma
Asthma is a condition wherein airways swell and muscles around the airways are constricted. This makes you difficult to breath.
While inhalers could help, black seed oil is another natural alternative that could help you breathe better.
According to a study published in American Journal of Emergency Medicine, black seed oil’s thymoquinone could help treat asthma. This is because thymoquinone reduces inflammation in the airway and at the same time, relaxes the muscles.
Another study published in Phytotherapy Research examined the effects of thymoquinone in treating asthma. In the said study, 80 adults with asthma were instructed to take 500 milligrams of black seed oil capsules twice a day for four weeks. By the end of the study, the adults reported significant improvement in asthma control.
Still, further studies are needs to ensure the safety and effectiveness of black seed oil when it comes to asthma.
Boosts Brain Health
As people get older, the condition of the brain changes. In fact, aging causes the brain to shrink by five percent every year by the time you reach 40. Cognitive changes such as memory loss are also common because of the decline in dopamine and sex hormones as you get older.
Unfortunately, these changes are natural part of aging. Still, there is something you can do about it.
There are recent studies showing the positive effects of black seed oil’s thymoquinone in reducing neuroinflammation. When inflammation of brain tissue is reduced, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are reduced as well.
One study published in Journal of Ethnopharmacology examined the effects of black seed oil on 40 healthy older adults. Experts found out that 500mg of black seed oil capsule everyday for nine weeks had better memory, cognition, and attention.
Despite this breakthrough, experts are still cautious especially when testing black seed oil on people with Alzheimer’s disease. Nonetheless, this is a good start to ensure that brain health is in check.
Lowers Blood Sugar
High blood sugar could lead to diabetes – and more. If left untreated, it could lead to further complications like eye disease, kidney disease, and even stroke.
This is where black seed oil comes in.
A study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine showed how black seed oil could help lower blood sugar. Black seed oil has notable antioxidant characteristics, which could affect insulin secretion. This is helpful in managing and ensuring low blood sugar.
There is also another study conducted by experts from Indonesia, which showed the effects of black seed oil in lowering blood sugar. In the said study, adults with type 2 diabetes were asked to drink 1.5ml and 3ml of black seed oil everyday for 20 days. As a result, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels was lower compared to the placebo group, which is a good indicator that black seed oil helps lower blood sugar.
Protects Your Heart Health
Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America? In fact, one person dies every 37 seconds because of cardiovascular disease.
Thankfully, you can do something about keeping your heart healthy – and black seed oil is helpful in this department.
A study published in Food & Function in 2015 noted that two to three grams of black seed oil everyday for eight to 12 weeks could significantly reduce bad cholesterol as well as total cholesterol levels.
Another study involving 90 people also found similar results. In the said study, two teaspoons or 10 grams of black seed oil after eating breakfast could lower bad cholesterol levels. If you want to make the most out of black seed oil, then make sure you take this for at least six weeks.
Aside from cholesterol levels, black seed oil is also effective in lowering blood pressure.
Based on a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2013, 70 healthy adults who drank half-teaspoon of black seed oil twice a day for eight weeks showed a significant improvement in their blood pressure levels. The best part was there were no reported adverse effects.
At this point, experts need to look into the optimal dosage for uniformity.
For Better Skin And Hair
The cosmetics and skincare industry is a billion-dollar industry. In fact, both men and women are using products that are made to improve skin texture and make your skin look smoother and plumper.
The good news is there is an easier way to ensure that your skin and hair are in their best state. Apart from the medical uses, black seed oil is also great for your hair and skin.
Keep in mind that black seed oil is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. Therefore, it could help address various skin conditions like:
Apart from treating various skin conditions, experts also found out that black seed oil contains properties that are helpful against the sun’s harmful UV rays. This is also the reason why it’s okay to include this ingredient in many cosmetic products.
Before you apply this on your skin, make sure to do patch testing first. There are some who might be allergic to this; hence testing it on your skin is a must.
Helpful Against Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease that causes joint pain and damage throughout the body. This joint damage affects both sides of the body.
There are treatments available to address this condition; however, early detection is key. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, black seed oil is also a natural way to reduce inflammation in the body.
A study published in Immunological Investigation showed that Nigella sativa oil is helpful against rheumatoid arthritis through modulation of T lymphocytes.
A similar study published in Phytotherapy Research also revealed the same finding. In the said study, participants who took 500mg of black seed oil capsules every day showed a reduction in swollen joints and morning stiffness. This is a good and affordable alternative in addressing RA.
Black Seed Oil Side Effects
The biggest concern of many: is black seed oil safe to use?
Generally, black seed oil is safe to use, especially when consumed in small amounts, between two and three grams per day.
Experts have not yet studied the effects of long-term use, so it is best to stick to a maximum of three months. Based on the studies conducted involving black seed oil, subject participants only took this ingredient for eight to 12 weeks only with no reported side effects like bloating and nausea.
Still, this doesn’t guarantee 100 percent safety. There is always a risk that black seed oil might interfere with medications. Taking medications like warfarin and beta-blockers and adding black seed oil in your diet could result to adverse effects.
There is also a case report published in Journal of Integrative Medicine, a woman with type 2 diabetes was hospitalized due to acute kidney failure. It turns out she took 2-2.5 grams of black seed capsules for six consecutive days.
Nonetheless, take note that this was an isolated case and there were no other reports of kidney failure after taking black seed oil. To be safe, avoid taking black seed oil especially if you have kidney problems. Also, discuss with your doctor regarding your intention to include black seed oil in your diet.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as babies and children were also cautioned in taking black seed oil. There is limited research involving the safety of this ingredient in the said groups. For safety reasons, avoid black seed oil in the meantime to prevent any adverse effects from happening.
Black Seed Oil Storage
Similar to other kitchen ingredients, how to store black seed oil is crucial in ensuring its freshness and prolonging its shelf life.
That being said, make sure to store black seed oil in cool, dark place. Placing it in the fridge is fine, too. Also, use airtight containers because prolonged exposure to air could destroy the oil’s essential ingredients and make it less effective.
Consequently, do not expose to heat and direct sunlight. Heat could also destroy its ingredients and cause it to become rancid.
If stored properly, then your black seed oil could last up to two years.
Black Seed Oil Recipe / Usage
Unlike other types of oil, black seed oil must be eaten raw. Otherwise, heating this oil will destroy its nutrients.
The easiest way to include this in your diet is by drizzling it on salads. Add honey or lemon juice with one or two teaspoons of black seed oil since the latter has stronger taste.
You can also add this mixture on your favorite tea or smoothies for added flavor.
If you’re more of a bread person, then you can also drizzle black seed oil over flatbread like naan, bagels, or biscuits. This ingredient also works well with:
- Curry dishes
- Stir-fry dishes
When it comes to seasoning, you can also combine black seed oil with fennel, mustard, and cumin seeds.
Aside from the kitchen, black seed oil has notable effects on your skin and hair, too. The simplest way is to massage the oil on your skin.
For best results, apply the oil on your skin after shower or while your skin is slightly damp. Gently massage the oil on your face and you will notice an improvement in no time.
You can also mix black seed oil on your hair to make it soft and shiny.
Black Seed Oil Alternatives
Black seed oil is known for its many health benefits, albeit the side effects if not used properly. In case you want to include this in your routine but couldn’t find any in the supermarket, below are your alternatives:
- Garlic – This ingredient is known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as cancer-protective abilities. Black seed oil does the same. In case you need an alternative for the nutritional benefits offered by black seed oil, garlic is key. It’s easy to find as well.
- Turmeric – One of the active antioxidants of the black seed oil is thymoquinine. It is a phytochemical chemoprotective agent that helps prevent cancer. Turmeric has curcumin, which also acts similarly.
- Anise Oil – This can be a great alternative for cooking. The black seed oil has a slight aniseed taste, so in case you run out of this when the recipe calls for this oil, anise oil can be your substitute.
- Sesame Or Walnut Oil – Black seed oil is not ideal for cooking. If you want to add flavor to your salad, sesame or walnut oil can be a good alternative.
- Spices Like Cumin Or Oregano – If the recipe calls for black seeds, then cumin or oregano are good alternatives. Black seed has a strong flavor that is slightly bitter and spicy, which resembles cumin and oregano.
The Bottom Line
Black seed oil may not be the popular ones in the market, but this doesn’t mean it is not worth trying for. The seeds from this flowering plant, Nigella sativa, contain thymoquinone, a crucial component responsible for its many health benefits including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Still, be careful when using it. It may result to adverse effects if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or currently on medication. Consult your doctor first regarding your intention to include this in your diet. More research is also needed to determine its effects on a long-term basis.
Overall, black seed oil’s effects are promising, especially when consumed moderately.