NOTE: To everyone asking where to get black seed oil, I link to the brand I use and recommend throughout the post. Just click “black seed oil” below to see it.
Have you heard about the remedy for everything but death? I’m talking about black seed oil AKA black cumin seed oil. When taken internally, the oil, cold pressed from the seeds of the nigella sativa plant, is said to cure everything from cancer to asthma (and pretty much everything in between). Is black seed oil the cure-all it claims to be?
I love a challenge, and I also try everything I recommend to my readers and clients, so of course I got my hands on the best black seed oil I could find, recommended to me by a client. Before I get into my story, let’s clear up some potential confusion about black seed oil.
First off, you’ll see black seed and black cumin seed used interchangeably. Black seed oil is pressed from the seeds of the nigella sativa plant and is also known as black cumin, black cumin seed, and black caraway. So “black seed” is a common name, but what you’re really looking for is nigella sativa, the flowering plant that produces the medicinal seeds. Black cumin seed, for example, isn’t the culinary cumin you’re thinking of. Confusing, right? Bottom line: what you want is nigella sativa oil.
The seeds of the nigella sativa plant have been used for thousands of years, probably since Ancient Egypt. There’s evidence the seeds were found in ancient Egyptian burial sites (source), and the seeds and oil have been used for healing and disease-fighting by Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioners for thousands of years.
There are nearly a thousand studies showing black seed oil’s effectiveness, most notably for its ability to kill MRSA (a strain of resistant bacteria) and combat cancer tumor growth. It’s also used for its diuretic, antihypertensive, anti-diabetic, immune booster/modulator, analgesic, antimicrobial, anthelmintic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic, bronchodilator, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, renal protective, and antioxidant properties (source).
Here are Just a Few Notable Benefits of Black Seed Oil
Of the many ways that black seed oil benefits the body, the main six that figure prominently in the scientific literature are its ability to help prevent cancer, diabetes, obesity, hair loss, skin disorders, and infections like MRSA (source).
- Inhibited tumor growth by up to 50%
- Increased the growth of healthy bone marrow cells by 250%
- Aids in the production of natural interferon
- Demonstrated strong anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
- Helps protect the body against damage from chemotherapy and radiation
- Deactivated and/or killed certain types of cancer cells
- Kills MRSA
- Diabetes: improves insulin and glucose tolerance as well as Metformin without the side effects
- Kills h pylori
- Improves asthma
- Protects the brain
- Combats hair loss (when used externally and internally)
- Liver protective, speeds healing
- Anti-inflammatory, so it’s good for any -itis condition, such as reducing pain from arthritis
- Cardio-protective, lowers or balances blood pressure
- Anti-fungal, kills candida and molds
- Balances and boosts immune system
- See more here and here
UPDATE: I recently ran across this study about about how black seed oil positively impacts the thyroid in those with Hashimoto’s. The study shows that black seed oil significantly reduced TSH (from 6.4 to 4.1 mIU/l), anti-thyroid antibodies (anti-TPO, from 295 to 148 IU/ml), and modestly reduced body weight by 2.5 pounds compared with the placebo control. It would likely benefit hypothyroid people (like myself) also.
I mean really, in all the research I’ve done on black seed oil, I could not find anything negative, even from unbiased sources. It also doesn’t have any side effects when taken as directed (not exceeding 2 tbsp daily, but you really don’t even need that much).
How Does it Work?
Black seed oil has three potent phytochemicals: thymoquinone (TQ), thymohydroquinone (THQ) and thymol. It’s also rich in beta sitosterol, myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid (fatty acids), proteins, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, calcium, folic acid, iron, copper, zinc and phosphorous. The three phytochemicals and active ingredients carry the potent anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, and medicinal properties, but the majority of its therapeutic perks probably have to do with the particularly potent active compound thymoquinone, which is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, anti-cancer, and immune-supporting abilities. (source)
It’s best taken in oil form daily until you notice results (which typically takes 30 days for most supplements, but your own mileage may vary). Quality is of utmost importance. Always source nigella sativa oil that is 100% organic, cold pressed, and is not processed with hexane or any additives.
I’ve been using this one and really like it. I contacted the company to double-check their processing methods, and they replied, “when pressing our seeds, we do not use any type of chemicals. Our seeds are pressed using Perfect Press technology that has nothing added to it, it’s just the seed oil.” So there you go.
It has a very strong but nutty flavor and a pleasant cumin-like aroma. Make sure your black seed oil is in a dark glass container (oils react unfavorably with plastic) so it’s not damaged by light. The oil is dark, which is how it’s supposed to look. Lighter colored black seed oils may be overly processed or adulterated.
Black seed oil is reportedly amazing for skin and hair health when used topically, but I don’t yet have evidence of this. You can add a few drops to your skin creams or oils, or apply topically for healing burns, eczema, psoriasis.
How to Take Black Seed Oil
I use this black seed oil (<— clickable link). As mentioned, I researched the company and its pressing methods thoroughly, and it’s so far the best seed oil I’ve found. It’s organic and has a rich, nutty flavor and a dark color. It comes in a black bottle (don’t buy oils in plastic!) to protect the delicate oils from going rancid.
Starting dose is 1 tsp twice daily between meals; maintenance dose (after results have been achieved) is 1 tsp daily. You can take it straight or mix with honey.
My Experience with Black Seed Oil
I started taking black seed oil after a bad cold that lingered.The cold virus attacked my olfactory nerve, leaving me unable to smell or taste for weeks. Can you imagine how devastating for someone whose career depends on food? (side note: you can read all about that here)
Even though the virus was gone, my senses of smell and taste were damaged, and I was hoping for a miracle (it is the cure for everything but death, right?) to fully restore taste and smell. After only a few days, I noticed my sinuses improved, perhaps due to the seed oil’s anti-inflammatory properties. As an aside, I also noticed my nagging knee pain went away quickly– MUCH more quickly than when I take curcumin. I like burst training–sprints combined with walking–and my creaky knees sometimes inhibit these workouts, so I was thrilled with this side effect. I also noticed my blood pressure was 110/70 after taking the oil for a week. It normally runs about 10 points higher both systolic and diastolic, so that was interesting.
My other clients report a marked improvement with asthma and digestive symptoms. I’m also using the oil as part of my anti-candida protocols.
I’ve not been using the oil for long, and my sense of taste and smell is not fully restored, though there is improvement. I’m feeling optimistic and love sharing my discoveries and experiments with you! I’m also looking forward to seeing how the oil impacts my lipid and glucose levels when I get yearly blood work in a few months. Stay tuned.
Meantime, please let me know if you’ve tried black seed oil and how it’s worked for you.
I’ve been taking black seed oil on and off fairly sparingly, alternating with curcumin, for their anti-inflammatory and other positive health benefits. I mentioned I would share my lipid panels with you, as I was curious if the black seed oil would have an impact. Here is the report, with comparison in the left hand column (where it says Sept/2016) from last year. This year is the right hand column where it says Nov/2017.
As you can see, there is an improvement, though slight, between this year and last. I don’t look much at total cholesterol, but rather the breakdown of triglycerides, LDL, and HDL. But I like to see cholesterol around 180 – 200 (mine is 187); trigs below 80 (mine is 56); LDL below 120 (mine is 99); HDL above 70 (mine is 75). You can read more on cholesterol breakdown here.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.