Black Seed Oil: History, Nutrition Facts, Uses and Benefits

Black seed oil is not some fly-by-night trendy new discovery that we just happened to make in the past decade or two; rather it appears to have been in use for over two millennia, having been found as far back as in the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen (otherwise known as King Tut), and is also said to have been used by Queen Cleopatra for its marvelous effects on hair.

In fact, depending on where you live right now, you may have used it without even realizing it! This is because it is known as different things in different parts of the world, including names such as Black cumin, kalongi, black caraway, Roman coriander or even black onion seeds.

If you’re anything as excited as the way we were when we stumbled upon the seemingly endless number of uses and benefits that black seed oil can be exploited for, then you’re in luck as this post will be the most comprehensive you can find anywhere –period.

Let’s take a slight trip down memory lane now, shall we?

The History Of Black Seed Oil

To put into perspective how long black seeds have been used by mankind, take for instance an allegedly statement made by the prophet Muhammad which said that “black cumin seeds could likely cure everything except for death itself”, being revered as a natural panacea of that time.

Or the fact that the Old Testament (specifically the book of Isaiah C27) made mention of black cumin seeds in it texts, demonstrating that it has a storied history through many parts of the world. However, its journey did not begin in the Middle East, but rather half a world away in Southwest Asia where it was originally native to.

From there, it likely made its way into the northern parts of Asia including China and Mongolia, across Europe and then into the Middle East. Even though evidence of it being cultivated and used “only” date back to about two millennia, chances are it was around long before this but was just undocumented.

As all other seeds are, black seeds do not grow independently, but rather inside fruits borne by an annual flowering shrub belonging to the Ranunculaceae family. The plant carries the binomial name Nigella Sativa, and is today cultivated in many parts of the world but especially Europe and Northern Africa.

Black Seed Versus Black Seed Oil

Black Seed Oil Nutrition Info

When you learn the many wonders that black seed possesses, there is some amount of confusion understanding that black seed oil is fundamentally different from the seeds.

How so? Black seeds comprise the entire structural unit of the seed, including fibrous husk and many additional constituents not found in the oil. Black seed oil is merely one of these components, but luckily it retains many constituents (especially the lipophilic ones) and is much more convenient for use than the seeds are.

As such, it is important to understand what you are getting and what you are not, especially when it comes to the fiber component which is virtually zero in the oil. With that in mind, let’s check out what nutrients the oil possesses.

Black seed oil is usually extracted from the seeds via a compression procedure, with cold expressed oils the purest and highest potency since heat extraction can degrade many compounds within the oil. High-purity black seed oils are typically darker than ones that have been diluted with carrier oils. It is usually advisable to buy the darker oils as black seed oil is safe for consumption as is.

Black Seed Oil Nutrition Info

Being an oil, black seed oil consists of a large proportion of fatty acids, although its overall Omega-3 profile is low. Rather, it is a rich source of polyunsaturated fats (approximately 58%) which supports heart health, with the remainder being saturated and monounsaturated fats which are very important in the synthesis of the hormone testosterone, making it extremely useful in this regard. That aside, you can also find the following:

Its volatile component (black seed oil is also known as a volatile oil) is where you can find of its biologically active phytocompounds including:

  • Thymoquinone (TQ)
  • Thymohydroquinone (THQ)
  • Nigellone
  • Dithymoquinone
  • Eugenol
  • Thymol
  • Carvacrol
  • 4-Terpineol
  • D-Citronellol
  • D-Limonene
  • P-Cymene

Black Seed Oil Benefits And Uses

Now it’s time for the good part, the virtually endless number of uses you can find for black seed oil. Even though black seed oil is very effective at alleviating what ails you, it is important to be realistic and not expect illogical cures. There are many snake oil salesman will tell you that black seed oil will cure cancer and the like, but this is simply irresponsible and not true. Can it help prevent the development of a cancerous growth? Quite likely. But the chances are slim that it can cure the condition in a replicable manner.

With that in mind, let’s check out what this oil can do for us.

1. Anti-fungal Properties

While the majority of fungal infections tend to occur superficially on the skin, fungal infections can still occur systemically inside the body. Under normal circumstances, we may have small colonies of fungi such as Candida living inside of us, but the immune system’s friendly probiotic bacteria do a good job of keeping them under control. This is especially true in women, who all possess Candida albicans in the vaginal tract.

Yeast infections occur frequently following the usage of antibiotics which may indiscriminately kill beneficial bacteria cultures in the body, allowing these fungi to rapidly increase in number and cause illness.

Consumption of black seed oil helps to impair the formation of the cell walls of these fungi, effectively removing one of their protective mechanisms. In turn, they’re much easier to kill off and get back under control. The oil can also be applied topically for localized fungal infections except deep toenail infections which are difficult to penetrate.

2. May Help Reduce Allergies

Individuals who experience seasonal allergies usually have hypersensitive immune systems that trigger reactions to everyday allergens, causing itchiness, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. In asthmatics this can be serious to the extent of causing bronchospasm in the lungs and triggering breathing difficulties.

Black seed oil possesses immunomodulatory functions which help to reduce the responsiveness of the immune system to noncritical allergens such as dust. It can effectively be used as a daily dietary supplement to this end, but should not replace your fast acting inhaler or other medication as prescribed by your physician.

3. For Acne Management

One word of warning – if you have severe sebaceous acne black seed oil will not work for you. However, for management of mild to moderate acne it can do wonders.

One of the components of acne is infective, while the other is inflammatory. Black seed oil possesses traits that can reduce inflammation and exert bactericidal effects when applied locally.

Many over the counter acne based preparations use ingredients that are dehydrating to the skin, resulting in flaky dry patches. There is no issue with black seed oil usage as its moisturizing properties actually work to improve the quality and suppleness of your skin, as opposed to just applying a quick fix to reduce acne pimples.

4. May Improve Fertility

The range of environmental toxins and pseudo-estrogens we come into contact with on a daily basis has definitely had a negative impact on overall fertility of the human species. There has been an accelerated decline in the average testosterone levels of young men over the past 50 years, with blame placed firmly on the shoulders of the many artificial compounds commonplace today.

Poor diet also plays a large part in reduced fertility, especially in men, but luckily correcting these deficiencies in diet also yield the greatest improvements as well.

As previously mentioned, black seed oil contains a decent amount of saturated and monounsaturated fats, which the body needs to facilitate the synthesis of testosterone. Yes, while high-fat consumption combined with other poor dietary choices and lifestyle habits greatly enhance cardiovascular risk, restriction of these essential nutrients also make for bad news.

Black seed oil contains several natural antioxidant compounds, such as the promising Thymoquinone, which can help to reduce oxidative stress on sperm and cells involved in the production of testosterone and said sperm.

Used alone, black seed oil may not be able to correct impaired fertility, low testosterone or low sperm count, but it definitely contributes when used adjunctively to a sensible diet.

5. Natural Diarrhea Treatment

Black seed oil is not a true antidiarrheal agent, as it will not just add bulk to watery stools or enhance reabsorption of water, but it can be invaluable in helping to relieve diarrhea with a bacterial origin.

In countries with poor sanitation and lack of basic access to potable water, diarrheal disease is prevalent and deadly. A black seed oil fortified diet (keep in mind black seeds are now native to many low income countries in parts of Africa and Asia where such illness is widespread) can effectively help reduce bacterial colonies, decrease the likelihood of developing diarrheal disease or assist with recovery before critical levels of dehydration is reached.

6. Supports Heart Health

Regular consumption of black seed oil can help to support healthy heart function thanks to a few mechanisms working at once. For instance, the primary type of fat found in the oil is of the polyunsaturated variety, the most beneficial for the heart and which can reduce development of risk factors associated with heart disease.

In addition to this, black seed is known to possess phytosterols, plant-based compounds which have potential cholesterol lowering actions when consumed. Many natural cholesterol support formulations make use of these compounds and do so with moderate success.

Black seed oil may also help support healthy blood vessel flexibility, meaning that they can tolerate changes to blood volume or blood pressure more easily and not be damaged as a result. However, even though these attributes of black seed oil are very promising, it still remains vitally important for you to eat a sensible diet and exercise for these benefits to become additive. Failure to do so may cause you to not experience its heart supporting actions.

7. Anti-aging Properties

The first sign of premature aging is skin that appears visibly damaged or worn, even though that individual may still be considered young, chronologically. The number one contributing factor to premature aging of the skin is a high oxidative stress load which may be exacerbated by poor diet or excessive sun exposure.

Black seed oil can be helpful in supporting healthy aging as it can be used orally as well as applied topically to the skin. Its rich antioxidant content, coupled with the presence of amino acids makes it well-suited for this purpose.

Not to mention the fact that black seed oil can help to form a barrier on the skin surface which limits evaporation of moisture and what you are likely to have is better hydrated skin.

You can expect to observe reduced visibility of wrinkles, fine lines and discoloration as the skin naturally heals itself.

8. May Help Reduce Cancer Risk

Absolute prevention of cancer is not realistic, as there have been numerous instances whereby people believed that they took every precaution possible and yet still developed the disease. Rather, the best you can hope for is reducing your risk by making smart nutrition and lifestyle choices.

The consumption of black seed oil is one such effective intervention you can make. Black seed oil has potent anti-inflammatory actions that can help to support immune function in its quest to prevent excessive cellular mutations from occurring. Many of its anti-inflammatory actions are believed to be due to the presence of the compounds thymoquinone and thymohydroquinone.

To be clear, thousands if not more of these cellular mutations happen in our body on a daily basis, but the immune system is usually efficient enough to take care of them before cancerous changes can take hold. However, cancer is likely to result when the immune system is incapable of handling all the cellular mutations occurring.

You can do your part in helping to support the immune system’s fight by reducing the frequency or speed at which mutations can occur, in this case by using black seed oil to lower oxidative stress and subsequently the number of inflammatory processes occurring.

On that note, the application of the oil to the skin can also support risk reduction of skin cancer brought on by excessive sun exposure.

9. Antibacterial Actions

Black seed oil possesses a wide antimicrobial spectrum, being able to inhibit the replication of multiple pathogenic species, though its utility in taking care of infections as standalone therapy is not likely to be effective.

Of great promise is its possible role in helping to treat MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a bacterial strain highly resistant to many conventional antibiotics. By helping to exploit a weakness in bacterial cell walls, black seed oil may help improve the penetrability of other antibiotics used simultaneously.

Even though studies have been conducted to this effect, the sad reality is that black seed oil is unlikely to ever receive FDA approval for this purpose (even as an adjunct) since they do not regulate dietary supplements.

10. Supports Healthy Hair Growth

Your hair and scalp are not exempt from the ravages of excessive stress and inflammation, usually manifesting as itchy patches, thinning of hair, dry and listless hair or even hair loss.

Black seed oil can be used independently on the scalp where it improves hydration, may support improvement of hair quality and even help to manage infections that may be impairing healthy hair growth.

Historical evidence also indicated that it was once used as a remedy for premature graying of the hair, though today there are many other co-factors to consider in addition to oxidative stress which may cause premature graying.

11. May Help Reduce Muscle Spasms

Local application of black seed oil to muscles that are inflamed or which experience cramps frequently can help to remedy the situation, since the oil may be able to activate voltage-gated channels that can reduce excessive contractility.

Of course, the application of the oil should only be regarded as a quick fix for these cramps or spasms, as if they occur frequently you should seek the advice of a licensed medical professional.

12. May Help Treat Toothaches

Have you ever reached for clove oil to treat a tooth ache? Turns out black seed oil may be able to reduce the throbbing pain a tooth ache may cause since it contains one of the same compounds that delivers the anesthetic actions clove oil is known for.

That compound is Eugenol, which black seed oil also contains, albeit in a smaller concentration than clove oil. Other compounds also help support its analgesic actions, however, such as thymoquinone to make it a reasonable remedy to take the edge off of the intense pain tooth ache may cause.

13. Supports Liver Health

The liver is an extremely hardy organ, one which is accustomed to severe stress as it processes some of the most harmful toxins in our body on a daily basis. However, disease may impair the efficiency of this organ, causing an accumulation of harmful metabolic products, or scarring of the liver itself (which may have a long-lasting effect on its actions) that lead to severe repercussions down the line.

Consumption of black seed oil can help support liver enzyme function, and support natural healing of the liver especially following illness or in people that have abused alcohol for a period of time.

14. May Help Prevent And Treat Diabetes

Black seed oil is very underrated when it comes to its potential in helping to tackle diabetes, even though it possesses unique properties that should warrant a serious look at it.

For instance, regular consumption of black seed oil can actually help to regenerate some amount of beta cells found in the pancreas that are responsible for the production of insulin. To date, no other medical intervention is capable of doing this except for direct stem cell transplants.

This would make it extremely helpful in the management or prevention altogether of type I diabetes, in which individuals suffer from impaired insulin production usually as a result of beta cell damage.

In addition to this, it can also be extremely useful to type II diabetics, as it is able to reduce hyperinsulinemia, or the excessive presence of insulin in blood owing to reduced sensitivity to that hormone.

It is said to possess comparable potency the one of the most common medications used to treat type II diabetes, metformin, but with a far lower incidence of side effects.

15. May Lend Itself To Weight Loss

Preliminary studies carried out on black seed oil have found that it has great potential for bringing about weight loss, and should be considered one of the most effective natural remedies to do so.

Although its exact mechanisms aren’t fully understood, there is a high likelihood that its ability to optimize blood glucose levels, balance insulin secretion and support carbohydrate metabolism play primary roles in bringing about weight loss.

High levels of insulin in blood impair the body’s usage of fat as fuel, and instead favor it’s storage.

16. May Help Manage Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by rapid migration of premature skin cells to the surface, causing thick scaly clusters that may appear inflamed, ooze or even pain. The anti-inflammatory actions of black seed oil can help to reduce the localized inflammation by also suppressing the speed of migration.

Its ability to moisturize the skin will also reduce dryness and irritation so that you are not encouraged to itch.

17. May Help Reduce Frequency Of Seizures

There are many different types and causes of seizure disorders, some of which respond effectively to conventional medication while others do not.

These types, known as intractable seizures may sometimes be relieved via the usage of alternative therapies, including dietary modification, and even the use of black seed oil. Much of its anti-seizure properties have been attributed to the thymoquinone contained within, being safe for usage even in pediatric patients.

18. May Help Prevent Gallstones

Gallstones usually form in the bile ducts or gallbladder when insoluble residue deposits form and cause blockage, sometimes impairing the digestion of fats.

While it is commonly believed that gallstones are more likely to occur in people that consume high-fat diets, this is actually not true. This is because dietary fat encourages production of bile acids and frequent flow through the ducts. It is rather biliary stasis that contributes to the formation of these stones.

Black seed oil helps with prevention by stimulating the digestive process, including the production of bile acids.

19. Treating Insect Bites

Anti-inflammatory actions of black seed oil help to relieve the itching and dull pain insect bites may cause. It will not mitigate allergies you may have to the proteins found in secretions of these insects, so it is important to monitor other effects that seem more serious.

20. Natural Insect Repellent

Black seed oil possesses natural citronellol, an effective insect repellent that can be used around your home without fear of it being toxic. However, the concentration of this oil is relatively low, so you may be better served by using a citronella oil concentrate.

21. May Help With Rheumatic Pain

Being an oil, black seed may be less than ideal for application to joints to assist with management of pain. However, you can easily make it into a salve by mixing with petroleum jelly and applying to the joints for long lasting action.

In addition to this, consumption will also reduce pro-inflammatory processes that can contribute to the generation of pain you experience as a result of arthritic or rheumatic conditions.

22. May Help Promote Oral Health

Oil pulling has gotten extremely popular over the past two decades, with coconut oil being predominantly used for this purpose. However, black seed oil may also be used to help support the health of your mouth and oral cavity.

To perform, simply swish small amount of the oil around in your mount for about 30 seconds. This will help prevent bacterial overgrowth, supply natural oils to the gum and manage halitosis (bad breath). If you dislike the residual taste left by black seed oil, wait a few moments and then drink something to overpower the taste.

On an important note- you should not swallow the oil used to clean the mouth after doing so.

Summary

There are many other uses and potential benefits of black seed oil which we have not expounded upon based on the fact that they are either anecdotal or being investigated at this time. However, other claims should not be discounted as it does share a storied history through time with it being likely that many of its well-known uses today have only recently been rediscovered.

You can rest easy knowing that the oil is safe for consumption, even more so than for topical application. A small number of people using it topically may experience minor allergic reactions or photosensitivity when exposed to the sun. If this is you, make use of the oil at night and remove from skin before venturing out into the sun.

A consistent approach is also the best way to experience effects. Do not expect them to manifest the first time or two that you use it, but after a few weeks of usage.

Now what are you waiting for? Black seed oil should undoubtedly be one of your go to staples from now on.