Black cumin: Healing people for thousands of years
01/25/2022 // Olivia Cook // Views

Black cumin, or black seed, is often described as a miraculous plant and called by early herbalists as "the herb from heaven." It is one of the most treasured nutrient-rich herbs and has been used for its medicinal properties in the Middle East and Western Asia for thousands of years.

The black cumin seeds, also known as black caraway, black onion seed, nigella and kalonji, are extracted directly from the black cumin flower and has a peppery taste with a hint of onion and oregano. These tiny black seeds can be toasted and sprinkled on bagels, biscuits and flatbreads like naan; added to soups, curries, pickles and stir-fries; and mixed with other seasonings like mustard, fennel and cumin seeds.

It's not hard to see why it’s gaining popularity in the West, as well. The maximal nutritional value of black cumin has been linked to the presence of thymoquinone (TQ) – the main active compound in black seed oil, which constitutes approximately 30 percent of the seeds.

Studies have found substantial amounts of protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins, various amino acids and significant levels of iron, copper, zinc, phosphorous, calcium, thiamin, niacin and pyridoxine in black cumin seeds, as well as hundreds of phytonutrients.

Health benefits of black cumin seed oil

Several studies have found that the black cumin seed oil can offer many health benefits. Based on those studies, black cumin seed oil can help support the following: (Related: Black cumin seed, a traditional folk remedy, is becoming popular for its health benefits and synergistic effects.)


A healthy immune system

A study published in Drug Discovery Therapy on the effect of black cumin seeds on different types of cancer cells showed that TQ, a major active component in black cumin seeds, exhibits promising effects against inflammatory diseases and plays a great role in affecting all markers of cancer. TQ modulates signaling pathways that are key to cancer progression and enhances the anticancer potential of clinical drugs while reducing their toxic side effects.

One study from Cairo University in Egypt showed that black seed oil supplementation can help alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis – a condition where your immune system attacks healthy tissues in your joints. Participants reported less swollen joints and decrease the duration of morning stiffness after taking black seed oil capsules.

Using black seed oil as nasal drops may help people find relief from seasonal allergies. In one study, most of the participants reported alleviated symptoms of hay fever, including a runny nose, sneezing and itchiness. (Related: Will black seed oil make risky asthma medication obsolete?)

A healthy digestive system

Eating black cumin seeds or taking black cumin seed oil can help reduce stomach upset and relieve stomach pain and cramps. The oil can help reduce gas, stomach bloating and the incidence of ulcer.

Healthy skin and hair

Acne (including whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts and nodules): A clinical study on 62 patients suffering from mild to moderate acne found that black cumin seed oil is less invasive yet provides the same results as popular commercial remedies for acne. The vitamin A, amino acids and fatty acids found in black cumin seed oil work together to regenerate skin cells and fade dark spots, anywhere from six to eight weeks.

Eczema: In a study involving 60 patients aged 18 to 60 years old with hand eczema, researchers found that black cumin seed oil, when applied topically, can help reduce inflammation and calm down itchiness caused by eczema flare-ups, thanks to its main active compound TQ. The researchers concluded that black cumin might have the same efficacy as betamethasone in decreasing the severity of hand eczema and improving the patients' quality of life.

Psoriasis: A recent study investigated the effect of black cumin seed oil on imiquimod-induced psoriasis-like skin lesions and concluded that black seed oil can be used as an adjuvant topical therapy (treatment given after the main treatment) for treating psoriasis and reducing the incidence of red patches covered with a whitish build-up of dead skin cells called scaled (psoriasis plaques).

Wound healing: The application of black cumin seed oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and the presence of bacteria to aid in wound healing. While it doesn't seem to be helpful in growing new collagen fibers, it does stimulate other growth factors to help the body create new healthy skin.

Healthy hair: Black cumin seed oil is the best natural remedy for hair regrowth. Its rich fatty acid content helps moisturize the hair shaft. Its omega-3 and omega-6 content encourages blood circulation especially in the head, which promotes rapid hair growth within a week. It also improves the performance of hair cells that are responsible for the pigmentation of hair follicles, thus helping prevent the greying of hair. With its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, black seed oil boosts hair growth and slows down the ageing process in the cells.

Softening and moisturizing skin: Black cumin seed oil is added to oils and moisturizers to improve skin moisture and hydration. Black seed oil has a high concentration of linoleic acid that makes it capable of enhancing the absorption of other products into the skin.

A healthy cardiovascular system

A 2020 non-randomized human clinical study published in the journal Food Science & Nutrition Research revealed the ability of black cumin seed oil to support healthy blood pressure and heart rate, adding to the arsenal of more than 50 additional clinical trials demonstrating the benefits of black cumin seed oil.

A recent paper published in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences found that black cumin seed oil exhibited a wide array of positive effects on obese mice. The researchers involved in the study observed that the group fed a high-fat diet (HFD) with black cumin seed oil exhibited lower blood pressure and lower fasting glucose levels compared to the group fed a regular high-fat diet.

A healthy liver

In the same study, researchers found that treatment with black cumin seed oil can also improve metabolic function and liver health by reducing the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

In one study, three months of black cumin oil supplementation helped reduce liver steatosis (accumulation of triglycerides) and liver aminotransferase levels in study participants. The authors concluded that larger, longer trials to evaluate the effectiveness of black cumin seed oil at treating nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis are warranted.

If you have problems with your liver and kidneys, talk to a natural health practitioner to determine a safe dose because taking too much black cumin seed oil can be harmful to these organs.

A healthy endocrine system

A 2016 overview in the British Journal of Pharmaceutical Research underscored the importance of black cumin seeds in treating diabetes as they enhance insulin production, glucose tolerance and beta-cell proliferation. The overview concluded that the seeds can play a significant role in the treatment of diabetes complications, such as nephropathy, neuropathy and atherosclerosis.

Sensible weight management plan

A 2020 study by researchers at the New York Medical College found that the combination of TQ in black cumin seed oil and omega-3 fatty acids helped negate the effects of obesity and markers of insulin resistance.

Overall, black cumin seed oil has exhibited several positive effects that may be beneficial to the body, which will make you want to start including a teaspoon of it into your daily routine.

Watch the video below to learn more about the amazing health benefits of black cumin seed.

This video is from the Natural Remedies channel on

Check out for more stories about foods with medicinal properties.

Sources include:


NCBI. 2 1 2

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