The use of plant or plant material for treatment of numerous ailments has increased in recent year not only because of their easy accessibility and low cost but also the belief that natural remedies are more potent and have fewer harmful effects as compared to synthetic medicines. Out of several plants explored for pharmacological potential, Nigella sativa, commonly known as black seed stand out with many health benefits. Its rich historical and religious backgrounds have made it to be considered as miracle herb.
Nigella sativa (black seed) is an annual flowering plant, which belongs to the Ranunculaceae family. It is a widely used medicinal plant. The seeds are widely used in the treatment of different diseases and ailments. The black seeds are slightly bitter and sometimes used as a flavoring or spice in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. The seeds were believed to originate from the Mediterranean region. Although there is no enough information on the earliest cultivation of N. sativa seeds but there are evidences that the seeds were found in several sites at ancient Egypt and in a Hittite flask in Turkey.
Black seed oil is extracted from the seeds of Nigella sativa mainly by cold pressing method. The oil is dark amber in color. It is a highly sought-after and reputable oil for its believed heath benefits and personal care applications. As revealed in literature, the most important bioactive component of black seed oil is thymoquinones, a phytochemical compound with antiinflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Other phytochemicals recorded in literature include sterols and saponins, phenolic compounds, alkaloids, novel lipid constituents and fatty acids, and volatile oils of varying composition.
Black seed and its oil are used for treatment of conditions such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, weight loss, and other conditions. There is scientific evidence to support some, but not all.
Immune system powerhouses such as antibodies and immune system cells rely on protein. Oil extracted from dried black seed is rich in fatty acids, which are the constituents of essential amino acids. Those unsaturated fatty acids are vital for a well-functioning immune system. A research published in the Journal of Fisheries Sciences, reveals that black seed oil causes an increase of fish protein content, even at the lowest dose.
Black seeds contain other nutrient that contribute significantly to our body immune response. A study from U.S. National Library of Medicine indicates the beneficial effects of Thymoquinone (from black seed oil) in immune-related diseases.
A research from African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, highlights the importance of black seed in HIV treatment. An HIV patient was given a mixture of black seed and honey thrice daily for one year. The repeated serology assessments for HIV infection became negative with undetectable viral load. Now that HIV/AIDS is a serious global threat, black seed can be a promising natural therapy to cure such a chronic infectious disease, after validating its full therapeutic efficacy by further investigations.
Also, a recent report from Nigeria shows the ability of mixture of black seed oil and honey to clear coronavirus from the affected patient. This report was obtained from a COVID-19 infected person who used this mixture among others to treat coronavirus. Further medical investigation should be made to validate this claim.
Studies have shown promising results of effect of black seed oil on the treatment of diabetes. A study published in Materials Science and Engineering concluded that black seed oil over time reduces HbA1c — the average blood glucose levels — by increasing insulin production, decreasing insulin resistance, stimulating cellular activity, and decreasing intestinal insulin absorption. Another study published in Global Journal of Pharmacology concluded that high doses of N. sativa oil significantly elevates serum insulin levels in diabetic rats, providing a therapeutic effect.
High Blood Pressure
A study has shown that daily intake between 100-200mg of black seed extract twice per day for two months lowers blood pressure in patients with mildly elevated blood pressure (systolic BP 140 – 159 mmHg). In addition to reducing blood pressure, the extract also lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol, which may clog blood vessels. Another study from the US National Library of Medicine has shown that 2.5 ml of the oil taking twice per day can reduce blood pressure significantly after two months.
A research has shown that the extract from black seed gives remarkable increment in the production of viable and motile sperm cells, enhanced epididymal sperm reservation, weight gaining of reproductive organs, blood testosterone density, gonadotropins content, amount of mature Leydig cells, and fertility indexes. Another research from Iran shows that the daily intake of 2.5mL of black seed oil gives significant increase in amount and the motility of sperm and the content of semen volume.
A study has shown that the thymoquinone present in black seeds reduces arthritis symptoms. In another study published in Immunological Investigations, 43 women with mild-to-moderate rheumatoid arthritis took black seed oil capsules or a placebo every day for one month. The study results showed that treatment with black seed oil led to a reduction in arthritis symptoms (as assessed by the DAS-28 rating scale), blood levels of inflammatory markers, and the number of swollen joints.
A study published in the Integrative Medicine Research reveals that black seed oil has therapeutic potential in the treatment of condition due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antihistaminic, antimicrobial, and analgesic effects. According to a research published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology, black seed oil can reduce the presence of nasal congestion and itching, runny nose, and sneezing after two weeks.
All the medical information given in this article is provided as an information resource only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.