The Benefits of Black Seed Oil

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Black seed oil is sourced from the seeds of Nigella sativa, a plant native to southwest Asia. Long used in cooking and in herbal medicine, black seed oil is said to offer a wide range of health benefits. One of the key components of black seed oil is thymoquinone, a compound with antioxidant properties.

The seeds, which are also called nigella seeds, have a slightly bitter flavor and are used as a flavoring or spice in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine.

 Resembling onion or black sesame seeds, the small dark seeds are eaten with honey or sprinkled on flatbread, naan, or bagels.

Why People Use It

Black seed oil is touted as a remedy for wide range of conditions, such as allergiesasthma, diabetes, headaches, high blood pressure, digestive disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition, black seed oil is said to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. The oil is used topically for skin and hair concerns, such as acne, dry hair, psoriasis, hair loss, and dry skin.

The Benefits

Although research on the health effects of black seed oil is fairly limited, there's some evidence that black seed oil may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from the available studies:

1) Rheumatoid Arthritis

Black seed oil may aid in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a small study published in Immunological Investigations in 2016.

For the study, 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 number of swollen joints.

2) Allergies

Black seed oil shows promise in the treatment of allergies. In a 2011 study published in American Journal of Otolaryngology, for instance, black seed oil was found to reduce the presence of nasal congestion and itching, runny nose, and sneezing after two weeks.

3) Diabetes

Black seed oil may be of some benefit to people with diabetes, according to a review published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2015. Researchers analyzed previously published studies on the use of black seed oil for diabetes and concluded that black seed oil could improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels in diabetes models, but noted that clinical trials are necessary to clarify the effects.

4) Asthma

Preliminary research suggests that black seed oil may offer benefits to people with asthma. For example, a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2017 found that people with asthma who took black seed oil capsules had a significant improvement in asthma control compared with those who took a placebo.

Possible Side Effects

Very little is known about the safety of long-term use of black seed oil when used in amounts higher than what's normally found in food. However, there's some evidence that applying black seed oil directly to the skin may cause allergic reactions (such as a rash) in some individuals.

Black seed oil may slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking medication that affects blood clotting, you shouldn't take black seed oil. There's some concern that taking too much black seed oil may harm your liver and kidneys.

It's possible that black seed oil may interact with many common medications, such as beta-blockers and warfarin (Coumadin). Stop taking black seed oil at least two weeks before scheduled surgery.

Pregnant women (or women trying to become pregnant) and breastfeeding women shouldn't use black seed oil.

You can get tips on using supplements here, but be sure to talk with your doctor if you're considering taking black seed oil.

You shouldn't stop any of your medication without speaking with your doctor, or delay or avoid conventional treatment.

Where to Find It

Widely available for purchase online, black seed oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

A Word From Verywell

While using black seeds in small amounts in cooking can be a tasty of way of incorporating the seeds in your diet, large-scale clinical trials are needed before the oil can be recommended as a treatment for any condition. If you're still thinking of trying it, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider first to weigh the pros and cons and discuss whether it's right for you.

For more help in taming inflammation, consider following an anti-inflammatory diet and increasing your intake of vegetables and herbs like ginger.

Sources:

Heshmati J, Namazi N. Effects of black seed (Nigella sativa) on metabolic parameters in diabetes mellitus: a systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2015 Apr;23(2):275-82. 

Kheirouri S, Hadi V, Alizadeh M. Immunomodulatory Effect of Nigella sativa Oil on T Lymphocytes in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Immunol Invest. 2016 May;45(4):271-83.

Koshak A, Wei L, Koshak E, Wali S, Alamoudi O, Demerdash A, Qutub M, Pushparaj PN, Heinrich M. Nigella sativa Supplementation Improves Asthma Control and Biomarkers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Phytother Res. 2017 Mar;31(3):403-409.

Nikakhlagh S, Rahim F, Aryani FH, Syahpoush A, Brougerdnya MG, Saki N. Herbal treatment of allergic rhinitis: the use of Nigella sativa. Am J Otolaryngol. 2011 Sep-Oct;32(5):402-7.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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