You may have heard about the miracle health properties of black seed and black seed oil, but where does it come from and what is it exactly? Read on to learn the answer to “what is black seed” and everything you need know about this incredible natural healing tool.
What is black cumin seed?
Black Seed, sometimes called Black Cumin Seed, is a herb native to South and Southwest Asia. It is a member of the Ranunculaceae plant family (same family as the buttercup flower).
It also commonly goes by the names:
- Nigella Sativa
- Fennel Flower
- Black Cumin
- Black Caraway
- Black Sesame
- Onion Seed
- Roman Coriander
The plant grows 7.9 to 11.8 inches (20-30 cm) tall with delicate white or pale blue flowers. Each fruit that sprouts from the plant contains hundreds of small black seeds, widely used for their magnificent healing powers. The seeds are also used in cooking and as a natural skin and hair treatment agent.
Black Seed, the medical cure-all
First discovered in the tomb of King Tut, the herb has been used for over 3,300 years to treat hundreds of acute and chronic illnesses. In Arabic cultures black seed is known as the “seed of blessing”. It’s also famously known across the world as the “cure for all disease except death.”
Today, there have been more than 630 scientific peer-reviewed articles published on the benefits of black seed. It’s most popular in the East where it originated though it’s fast been gaining widespread North American appeal as a natural healing treatment for hundreds of diseases.
Across the world, black seed is being used to naturally treat everything from headaches, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, liver disorders, hypertension and cancer. The research is solid, here are just a few of the well-documented benefits of black seed:
Black Seed and Cancer
In a 2006 study, Croatian scientists discovered that black seed oil phytochemicals reduced tumor growth by 52 percent in mice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17080016 In addition to these cancer inhibiting properties, components of black seed have cancer protective roles, fighting against the CCl4-mediated suppression of CYP and genetic abnormalities and polymorphisms of CYP enzymes associated with cancer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252704/
Black Seed and Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
A 2010 research study found that 2 grams of black seeds per day reduced fasting blood glucose readings by an average of 45 mg/dl after four weeks and 62 mg/dl at eight weeks. HbA1C readings were reduced by 1.5% after 12 weeks. Participants had decreased insulin resistance. Read about the full study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21675032
A 2006 study showed 100-200 mg of Black Seed Extract taken two times per day eight weeks significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure values in patients with mild hypertension. Participants also experienced a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. Read about the full study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3606739/
Black seed has been investigated in eighteen whole or cellular animal models and one human cellular model related to asthma. The use of black seed oil was shown to have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects in seven studies. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319016417301391
Black Seed as a Skin Healing Agent
Numerous studies report that black seed is a natural healer for psoriasis, eczema, fungal infections and acne when applied directly to the skin as an oil. Black seed oil regulates the body’s immune cells and contains anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) which is a problem in many autoimmune skin diseases. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352241015000286
Why is Black Seed such a medical miracle?
The medicinal power of Black Seed comes from natural phytochemicals found in its seeds.
One is Thymoquinone (TQ), which is well known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Another, called Thymol is a disinfectant that kills many strains of virus and infections.
The seeds also contain a plethora of healthy nutrients: Beta sitosterol, myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, proteins, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, calcium, folic acid, iron, copper, zinc and phosphorus.
How do I use the seeds from the Black Seed plant?
To obtain the benefits of black seed, eat the seeds as is or use black seed oil. You can sprinkle the seeds on salads or grind them into a smoothie. If using black seed as a skin or hair treatment, you’ll want to use the oil and apply directly to the site.
It’s been suggested that grinding the seeds increases their potency. Also, if you’re cooking them it’s best to use them as is or freshly ground as heat may diminish their health properties.
For black seed oil, the seeds are pressed to create a tinted black liquid. Drink the liquid on it’s own or add it to other liquids. The therapeutic dosage varies depending on the ailment.
The black seeds have a pungent, slightly bitter taste. They taste like a combination of black pepper and onion with a hint of oregano. They are commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines to flavor curries, stews and vegetables.
Can I grow my own Black Seed plant?
Black seed is an annual that you can grow in a home garden. For best results, make sure you have:
- Full sunlight
- A soil pH 6 to 7 (though the plant can survive in other kinds of soils)
- Feed and water regularly
Here is how to harvest the seeds:
Pick the pods of the plant and place them in a paper bag. Give them time to dry out completely. When they are completely dry you can rub the paper bag back and forth in your hands and the black seeds will release from the pods. Store the dry seeds in a air tight container.