Black Seed: A Lot of Nutritional Value in a Small Package

What Is Black Seed?

Black seed, also known as Nigella sativa, is a small flowering plant native to Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region. The seeds of the plant have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine, particularly in Ayurvedic and Islamic medicine.

Black seed oil, which is derived from the seeds of the plant, has been found to contain a variety of bioactive compounds, including thymoquinone, which has been studied for its potential health benefits. Some studies suggest that black seed oil may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties, although more research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits.

Black seed has also been used for culinary purposes, particularly in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, where it is often used as a spice or flavoring agent. The seeds have a slightly bitter, peppery flavor and are often used in savory dishes like curries, stews, and breads.

It is widely used in traditional systems of medicine for a number of diseases including asthma, fever, bronchitis, cough, chest congestion, dizziness, paralysis, chronic headache, back pain and inflammation. Pharmacological studies on N. sativa have confirmed its antidiabetic, antitussive, anticancer, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, neuro-protective, gastroprotective, immunomodulator, analgesic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic, and bronchodilator activity. 

It’s important to note that while black seed has many potential health benefits, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and optimal dosages. As always, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating black seed or any supplement into your routine.

What are the Benefits of Black Seed?

A recent review summarized many of the chemical and pharmacological effects listed below. [PMC7501064]

  • Neurological Disorders: Black seed (Nigella sativa) helps in neurological disorders by exerting its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties, and its potential to improve neurotransmitter function, thereby reducing symptoms and progression of various neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. [PMC8225153]
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: The thymoquinone found in black seed is a potent anti-inflammatory compound. It can help mitigate inflammation throughout the body, providing relief from various conditions like arthritis and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Regular consumption of black seed can positively influence blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This contributes to better cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of heart diseases.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Black seed is abundant in antioxidants, which are crucial in scavenging harmful free radicals. This action protects cells from oxidative damage, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Immune System Support: Compounds in black seed can enhance the immune system’s functionality. They boost the production of immune cells and help in modulating the immune response, making the body more capable of warding off illnesses.
    • Autoimmune Diseases: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, black seed may be beneficial in reducing joint pain and inflammation, which can be particularly helpful for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. [PMC8539759]
    • Antimicrobial Effects: Black seed exhibits significant antimicrobial properties, making it effective against a variety of pathogens including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, thus helping in combating infections.
    • Antiviral Effects: It has shown potential in combating certain viruses, thus contributing to the management of viral infections.
  • Anti-cancer Potential: Thymoquinone in black seed has been shown to induce apoptosis in cancer cells and suppress tumor growth in certain animal models, highlighting its potential as an anti-cancer agent.
    • Reducing the Side Effects of Chemotherapy: Some studies suggest that black seed might help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, though more research is needed in this area.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation: Black seed may aid in improving blood sugar control and enhancing insulin sensitivity, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes, helping to reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.
  • Antihistamine Effects: It has natural antihistamine properties, making it potentially useful in managing allergies by reducing symptoms like sneezing and itching.
    • Respiratory Health: Due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, black seed can be beneficial in relieving symptoms and improving lung function in respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.
  • Digestive Health: Black seed can aid in digestion and alleviate symptoms like bloating and gas. It may also help in managing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) due to its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. [PMC3990147]
  • Antiparasitic Properties: It has been shown to have antiparasitic effects, which can be beneficial in treating certain parasitic infections. [PMID: 27630048]
  • Liver Protection: Studies have indicated that black seed can shield the liver from damage caused by toxins and oxidative stress. A review stated, “effective in the treatment of NAFLD and could improve the liver enzymes, fasting blood sugar, HDL, and inflammation markers, as well as the severity of NAFLD. [PMID: 33728708]
  • Weight Management: Research suggests that black seed can aid in weight loss by suppressing appetite, boosting metabolism, and enhancing fat oxidation, thereby playing a role in weight management strategies.
  • Skin Health: Black seed oil is known for its skin-protective and nourishing properties. It may help in treating skin conditions like eczema, acne, and psoriasis due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities.
  • Hair Health: The oil is also beneficial for hair. It can strengthen hair, reduce scalp irritation, and possibly combat dandruff due to its moisturizing and nourishing properties.
  • Mood and Cognitive Benefits: Some studies suggest that black seed could have a positive effect on mood and cognitive function, potentially helping to reduce anxiety and enhance memory.
  • Kidney Health: Black seed may have a protective effect on the kidneys, helping to reduce the risk of kidney stones and improve overall kidney function.
  • Antifungal Properties: Besides its antibacterial action, black seed also has antifungal properties, making it effective against certain fungal infections.
  • Enhancing Fertility: Black seed (Nigella sativa) has shown potential in enhancing fertility, with research indicating its beneficial effects on reproductive health in both men and women.
    • Men: Black seed is observed to improve sperm quality by increasing sperm count, motility, and morphology. It may also boost testosterone levels, which are critical for male fertility. The antioxidant properties of black seed play a significant role in protecting sperm from oxidative stress, a key factor that can adversely affect sperm health and fertility.
      Women: Black seed can contribute to hormonal balance, essential for regular ovulation and menstrual cycles. It might improve ovarian function, thereby enhancing fertility, and positively affect uterine health, aiding successful implantation and pregnancy.
    • Additionally, black seed’s anti-inflammatory properties can be particularly beneficial in conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of infertility. Black seed’s ability to improve metabolic parameters also indirectly supports fertility, especially in cases where infertility is linked to metabolic issues such as obesity or insulin resistance.
  • Menstrual Health: Black seed may help in regulating menstrual cycles and reducing menstrual pain due to its muscle-relaxing properties.
  • Bone Health: Black seed may contribute to bone health by promoting bone density and strength, potentially beneficial in conditions like osteoporosis.
  • Oral Health: Black seed has antibacterial properties that can be beneficial for oral health, potentially helping to prevent or treat dental cavities and gum diseases.
  • Enhancing Sleep: Due to its potential sedative properties, black seed might help improve sleep quality.
  • Reducing the Risk of Seizures: Preliminary research indicates that black seed might have anticonvulsant properties, potentially reducing the frequency of seizures in individuals with epilepsy.
  • Covid: A study found that 500 mg black seed oil supplementation was associated with faster recovery of symptoms than usual care alone for patients with mild COVID-19 infection. [PMID: 36825730] Researchers also report, ” molecular docking studies have also shown that TQ could potentially inhibit COVID-19 development through binding to the receptor-binding domain on the spike and envelope proteins of SARS-CoV-2, which may hinder virus entry into the host cell.” [PMC8106451]

PMC7501064

Medication Interactions with Black Seed

  • Diabetes medications: Black seed may lower blood sugar levels, and combining it with diabetes medications could cause dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
  • Blood pressure medications: Black seed has been shown to lower blood pressure, so taking it with medications that also lower blood pressure could result in excessively low blood pressure (hypotension).
  • Anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs: Black seed may slow blood clotting, which could increase the risk of bleeding when combined with anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications (e.g., warfarin, aspirin, clopidogrel).
  • Cytochrome P450 substrate medications: Black seed may interfere with the function of cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are responsible for metabolizing many drugs. This interaction could alter the effectiveness or increase the risk of side effects for medications metabolized by these enzymes.
  • Immunosuppressive medications: Black seed may stimulate the immune system, which could counteract the effects of immunosuppressive medications used to prevent organ transplant rejection or treat autoimmune conditions (e.g., corticosteroids, cyclosporine).
  • Chemotherapy drugs: While some studies suggest that black seed may enhance the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy drugs, it could also potentially interfere with their action or increase the risk of side effects. Consult your healthcare provider before combining black seed with chemotherapy medications.

Supplement Interactions with Black Seed

  • Fish oil or omega-3 supplements: Both black seed and fish oil have blood-thinning effects, which could increase the risk of bleeding when taken together.
  • Garlic supplements: Garlic supplements may also have blood-thinning effects, and combining them with black seed could increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Ginkgo biloba: Ginkgo biloba may slow blood clotting, and when combined with black seed, it could further increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E has mild blood-thinning properties, so combining it with black seed could increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): CoQ10 has potential blood pressure-lowering effects, and combining it with black seed could result in excessively low blood pressure.
  • Echinacea: Echinacea may stimulate the immune system, and when taken with black seed, it could interfere with the effects of immunosuppressive medications or exacerbate autoimmune conditions.
  • St. John’s Wort: St. John’s Wort may affect the cytochrome P450 enzyme system, which could alter the metabolism of black seed or other medications, potentially impacting their effectiveness or increasing the risk of side effects.

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Black Seed Oil

Amount Per 1 Teaspoon Serving
Calories
 … 35
Calories from Fat … 35
Total Fat … 4g
Saturated Fat … 1g
Organic Black Cumin Seed Oil … 4.6g
(Nigella Sativa)


Suggested Use (Capsules):
Take two (2) capsules 1 to 2 times daily with food or as directed by a healthcare professional.


Serving size: 2 Capsules

Amount Per Serving
Calories
 … 10
Calories from Fat … 10
Total Fat … 1.5g
Black Cumin Seed Oil … 1300mg
(Nigella Sativa) [Supplying Thymoquinone (TQ)]


Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

Food Sources of Black Seed

Outside of direct supplementation, you’ll probably encounter black seed as an ingredient in other foods. While providing recipes is a little outside our scope, here are some of the typical routes for adding black seed to your diet.

Whole SeedsOften used as a spice in cooking
Black Seed OilExtracted from seeds, used for topical or oral use
Ground SeedsUsed in foods, smoothies, and as a seasoning
CapsulesConvenient form for supplementation
Black Seed TeaInfused in hot water for drinking

To Sum It Up

Black seed offers various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some studies show it can help manage conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. While it’s not a cure-all, incorporating black seed into your diet or health routine could provide some advantages.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


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