For over two thousand years the West Asian plant, black seed (nigella sativa, also known as black cumin), from the ranunculaceae (buttercup) family, has been traditionally used by various cultures throughout the world as a remedy for several diseases and ailments and to improve general health.
The ancient Egyptians knew and used the black seed and described it as a panacea (cure-all for problems and diseases). Pharaoh Tutankhamun (1334-1325BC) even had a bottle of the oil in his tomb. Ibn Senna known in the West as Avicenna (980-1037AD) the Persian-born Islamic philosopher and doctor who wrote the great medical treatise The Canon of Medicine, a standard medieval medical text, referred to the black seed as the seed that stimulates the body’s energy and helps recovery from fatigue.
More recently, in The Sunday Times, What’s the Alternative? columnist, Susan Clark wrote: “I was impressed by this herb (black seed) because, when I was given it to get rid of an intense migraine, it quickly cleared both my congested head and my congested sinuses.”
This is why we were pleased when Alex Kirchin, the Technical Director at Viridian Nutrition told us that black seed oil had just come onto the UK market in December.
The applications of black seed oil, pressed from the seeds of the black seed plant, are many-fold from cell-protecting to controlling allergic reactions and antifungal effects through to cosmetic use in hair and skin care.
Black Seed Oil May Help Control Allergic Reactions and Support Immunity
An assessment of four studies including a total of 152 patients with allergic diseases (allergic rhinitis, bronchial asthma, atopic eczema) were treated with black seed oil, given in capsules at a dose of 40-80 mg/kg daily.
The researchers looked at some of the following markers that included IgE (immunoglobulin E), which is associated with hypersensitive reactions and ACTH, a peptide hormone that helps inhibit inflammation during allergic responses.
Researchers concluded that black seed oil could prove to be an effective ingredient to enhance mainstream treatment of allergic diseases.
Also, prostaglandin E1 derived from the omega-6 fatty acids found in black seed oil is a potent immune regulatory substance, particularly in participation with important phytonutrients such as thymoquinone (TQ), which is believed to be one of the major active components of the seed.
The Components of Black Seed Oil Help Support Your Cells and Tackle Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
TQ is thought to be a promising dietary cell-protecting agent. There are also two additional components in black seed that give this seed even more healthy actions. They are phospholipids and beta sitosterol.
Phospholipids play key roles in supporting cellular membrane maintenance. In one study, German researchers analysed the phospholipids present in black seed oil and found that the oil contains phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylinositol (PI).
The phytosterol beta sitosterol has also been identified as a key marker in black seed oil. Beta sitosterol has been shown to exert protective effects and reduce symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). While, its still not clear exactly how beta sitosterol benefits the prostate, research does indicate that it may lessen inflammation and block the accumulation of cholesterol in the prostate gland itself. However, it does not appear to alter the size of the prostate.
Black Seed Oil: Protect Your Body From Dangerous Free Radicals Like Superoxide
Data indicates that black seed could be acting mainly as a potent superoxide free radical scavenger. Reducing the impact of destructive free radicals such as superoxide can help reduce the damage to cell membranes, particularly nerve cells within the brain.
To better understand free radicals and superoxide, we need to go back to some basic chemistry. Molecules consist of one or more atoms of one or more elements joined by chemical bonds. Free radicals are formed when a molecule splits in such a way that leaves it with an odd or unpaired electron (the substance that bonds atoms together).
Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability. To gain the needed electrons, they will attack the nearest stable molecule. When the stable molecules electron is stolen, it becomes a free radical itself. This process can cascade until it results in the destruction of the living cell.
Among the free radicals, superoxide is the most powerful and dangerous it requires three electrons to balance itself rather than one normally associated with free radicals.
Free radicals can accelerate the ageing process and cause damage to our bodies. By destroying living cells, free radical damage can lead to a wide array of health problems. Conditions particularly associated with superoxide free radical damage include: arthritis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, HIV, neurological disorders and macular degeneration.
Don’t Be Embarrassed By Fungus, Black Seed Oil May Clear Up Your Problem
The word fungus has a negative and embarrassing reputation. No one likes to admit that they might have a fungus problem. However, fungus infections are quite common, according to BUPA. Some of the most common types include Athlete’s foot, nail infections, ringworm and thrush. Now, black seed may offer you an alternative to the anti-fungal medications and the potential side-effects they can bring like skin irritation.
In one study, the antifungal activities of extracts of black seed, and its active principle TQ, were tested against eight species of dermatophytes, otherwise know as skin fungus.
The results revealed the potentiality of black seed as a source for anti-dermatophyte drugs and support its use in folk medicine for the treatment of fungal skin infections. A further Turkish study, implemented at the Agricultural Faculty of the University of Erzurum in 1989, has also proved the antibacterial and antifungal qualities of black seed oil.
Black Seed Oil: Keep Your Hair and Skin Healthy Just Like The Ancient Europeans
Black seed has a long tradition in the area of beauty care. Texts from the ancient Orient and from 1st century Europe, as recorded by Pliny, report extensive traditional use for black seed oil in hair and skin care.
There are many well-established recipes for maintaining and restoring beauty with the help of black seed. Just like the skin, the hair also reflects the general condition of the body. Taking black seed oil internally appears to contribute to healthy hair by regulating various bodily functions. People during the Middle Ages used many plants and herbs in their daily life. Herbs were used to flavour food and it was commonly believed that a large number of plants contained healing properties. Culpeppers Complete Herbal (17th century) recommends massaging black seed oil into the scalp before washing to maximize hair care and prevent hair loss.
Black Seed Oil: What To Take For Best Results
Try taking one tsp (5ml) of black seed oil per day for internal use. It can be mixed into foods or taken from the spoon. Do not heat as this may cause deterioration of the nutritional properties. Higher levels can be used under the guidance of a doctor schooled in alternative medicine. Black seed oil may also be used topically in daily skin and hair care routine, as a therapeutic massage oil, and/or as a chest rub for respiratory support.
Contraindications: There are no known contraindications. The seeds are characterized by a very low degree of toxicity. However, black seed oil is not recommended for use during pregnancy.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Susan Clark, What’s the Alternative? The Sunday Times newspaper, Oct 09, 2005
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