Black cumin seeds were popular among the Egyptian pharaohs and were even found in King Tutankhamun's tomb. Black cumin seed oil — sometimes called black seed oil — boosts the immune system, promotes balanced blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and wards off harmful organisms. The book of Isaiah in the Bible mentions cumin (caraway) seed, and reportedly, the Prophet Mohammed said, "Hold on to the use of the black seed for indeed it has a remedy for every disease except death."
What Is Black Cumin Seed Oil?
Black cumin seeds come from the plant Nigella sativa, which is part of the buttercup family and native to countries throughout southern Europe and southern Asia. Some people call it black seed, caraway, or kalonji.
Black cumin seed oil comes from the seeds and is usually made by expeller pressing — basically, pressing the oil out of the seeds and discarding the pulp. The essential oil and seeds are popular in several traditional medicine systems, from India's Ayurveda to Islamic Tibb-e-Nabawi or “prophetic medicine."
The secret to black seed oil's therapeutic powers may lie in its arsenal of phytochemicals. These naturally occurring compounds include:
Thymoquinone, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Thymohydroquinone, which naturally inhibits acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down certain neurotransmitters. Physicians use pharmaceutical acetylcholinesterase for neurological diseases, and scientists are studying thymohydroquinone as a natural alternative.
Thymol, which is naturally antibacterial and antifungal.
Black cumin seed oil contains other active chemicals, including alkaloids, saponins, and fatty acids, such as linoleic acid and oleic acid, as well as nutrients like folate, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, proteins, and essential amino acids.
Black Cumin Seed Oil Benefits
The properties of black cumin seed oil make it a great natural remedy. From weight loss to lung health to immune system support, here are some of the top benefits you might see from using black seed oil.
Assists With Weight Loss
Black cumin seed oil is becoming an increasingly popular supplement for weight loss. A 2018 review found that this oil appears to moderately reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist size. The seed has traditionally been used to stimulate appetite, but preliminary studies nevertheless show that — despite this — it helps people lose weight.
Promotes Heart Health
Several studies found that black cumin seed, in either oil or powder form, can help promote healthy cholesterol levels — especially the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol associated with heart disease. When people used black cumin seed oil and exercised, it was more effective at improving people's lipid profile — balancing their cholesterol levels as well as triglyceride levels — compared with exercise alone. Overall, it appears that black seed oil can support your heart health and cardiovascular health.
Supports Normal Blood Pressure
Some studies demonstrate that black cumin seed oil can normalize blood pressure in people with mild hypertension. In one study, taking black cumin seed oil for two months effectively balanced blood pressure levels in healthy volunteers, without any harmful side effects.
Reduces Redness and Swelling
Black cumin oil appears to help reduce redness, swelling, and irritation inside the body, particularly in the joints. A review of multiple studies, including human clinical trials, found that it may be an effective therapy for autoimmune diseases. When people with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes joint discomfort, rubbed black cumin oil on the skin, it reduced swelling in the joints. Black cumin seed oil may also normalize levels of inflammatory markers in blood, particularly associated with colitis.
Discourages Abnormal Cell Growth
One scientific review found that black cumin seed oil’s antioxidants — specifically thymoquinone — had anti-carcinogenic properties. Specifically, thymoquinone inhibited tumor cell activity. In another study of cells in Petri dishes, thymoquinone slowed the growth and replication of glioblastoma brain tumor cells.
Protects Against Radiation
Black cumin seed oil may help reduce the damaging effects of radiation. Black cumin seed oil and its phytonutrients may protect against the oxidative stress and tissue injury caused by radiation.
Encourages Normal Blood Sugar Levels
Black cumin seed oil has an incredible ability to help balance your blood sugar levels. Most studies focus on thymoquinone, the main phytonutrient in black seed oil, which might reduce glucose absorption in the intestine while supporting insulin production by the pancreas. Balancing blood sugar is critical for people with diabetes, prediabetes, or metabolic syndrome. However, even in healthy people, balancing your blood sugar helps you keep diseases at bay, maintain your energy, and reduce so-called oxidative stress in the body, which leads to aging.
Boosts the Immune System
The antioxidants and other beneficial compounds in black cumin seed oil may bolster the immune system. Several studies explore this effect. When given black seed oil, you may experience a stronger immune system response immediately after exercise. People with autoimmune disorders may see greater benefits from black cumin seed oil than elderberry and echinacea.
Supports Lung Health
Black cumin seed oil's soothing powers might make it a natural and complementary remedy for lung health. One study found Nigella sativa oil reduces airway inflammation and encouraged easy breathing.
Researchers found that the oil reduced nasal congestion, itching, runny nose, and sneezing in people with allergies. If you’re looking for other ways to breathe easier, check out our lung cleanse article.
Resists Harmful Organisms
The antimicrobial properties of black cumin seed oil make it effective for warding off a range of pathogens in the body, including fungal pests like Candida. A 2008 study found Nigella sativa resisted the dangerous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. This activity against harmful organisms is a characteristic that black cumin seed oil shares with another oil that's popular among natural health enthusiasts — oregano oil.
Supports Liver Function
The liver is the body's main organ for detoxification. It breaks down many types of toxins from food, pharmaceuticals, and the environment that make their way into the bloodstream. It's good to know that this important organ has an ally in black cumin seed oil. In one study of liver oxidative stress markers in rats, researchers found that the oil reduced liver disease complications and slowed its progression, helping to restore healthy liver function.
Improves Gut Health
Black cumin seed oil also aids digestion. Studies have found that Nigella sativa may increase mucus secretion in the gut, helping digestion run more smoothly and reducing the risk of stomach ulcers by slowing gastric acid secretion. The antioxidant properties of black seed oil may also help conditions like colitis.
Renewal Wellness offers natural wellness for a happier, healthier life. Let us know how we can help.