Gaining popularity these days as a weight loss aid and natural healing agent, black cumin seed oil comes with a centuries-old wellness pedigree. Black cumin seeds were popular among the Egyptian pharaohs and were even found in King Tutankhamun's tomb. Black cumin seed oil — sometimes called black seed oil — boosts the immune system, promotes balanced blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and wards off harmful organisms. The book of Isaiah in the Bible mentions cumin (caraway) seed, and reportedly, the Prophet Mohammed said, "Hold on to the use of the black seed for indeed it has a remedy for every disease except death."
What Is Black Cumin Seed Oil?
Black cumin seeds come from the plant Nigella sativa, which is part of the buttercup family and native to countries throughout southern Europe and southern Asia. Some people call it black seed, caraway, or kalonji.
Black cumin seed oil comes from the seeds and is usually made by expeller pressing — basically, pressing the oil out of the seeds and discarding the pulp. This essential oil and the seeds are popular in several traditional medicine systems, from India's Ayurveda to Islamic Tibb-e-Nabawi or “prophetic medicine."
The secret to black seed oil's therapeutic powers may lie in its arsenal of phytochemicals. These naturally occurring compounds include:
- Thymoquinone, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Thymohydroquinone, which naturally inhibits acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down certain neurotransmitters. Physicians use pharmaceutical acetylcholinesterase for neurological diseases, and scientists are studying thymohydroquinone as a natural alternative.
- Thymol, which is naturally antibacterial and antifungal.
Black cumin seed oil contains other active chemicals, including alkaloids, saponins, and fatty acids, such as linoleic acid and oleic acid, as well as nutrients like folate, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, proteins, and essential amino acids.
Black Cumin Seed Oil Benefits
The properties of black cumin seed oil make it a great natural remedy. From weight loss to lung health to immune system support, here are some of the top benefits you might see from using black seed oil.
Assists With Weight Loss
Black cumin seed oil is becoming an increasingly popular supplement for weight loss. A 2018 review of studies found that this oil appears to moderately reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist size. The seed has traditionally been used to stimulate appetite, but preliminary studies nevertheless show that — despite this — it helps people lose weight.
Promotes Heart Health
Several studies found that black cumin seed, in either oil or powder form, can help promote healthy cholesterol levels — especially the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol associated with heart disease.[5, 6] When people used black cumin seed oil and exercised, it was more effective at improving people's lipid profile — balancing their cholesterol levels as well as triglyceride levels — compared with exercise alone. Overall, it appears that black seed oil can support your overall heart health and cardiovascular function.
Supports Normal Blood Pressure
Some studies demonstrate that black cumin seed oil can normalize blood pressure in people with mild hypertension. In one study, taking black cumin seed oil for two months effectively balanced blood pressure levels in healthy volunteers, without any harmful side effects.
Reduces Redness and Swelling
Black cumin oil appears to help reduce redness, swelling, and irritation inside the body, particularly in the joints. A review of animal studies and human clinical trials found that it may be a therapy for autoimmune diseases. For example, one study found that black cumin oil rubbed on the skin reduced swelling in the joints for people with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes joint discomfort. When scientists gave rats with ulcerative colitis black cumin seed oil directly into their colon, the rats experienced normalized levels of inflammatory markers in their blood.
Discourages Abnormal Cell Growth
One scientific review found that black cumin seed oil’s antioxidants — specifically thymoquinone — had anti-carcinogenic properties. Specifically, thymoquinone inhibited tumor cell activity. In another study of cells in Petri dishes, thymoquinone slowed the growth and replication of glioblastoma brain tumor cells.
Protects Against Radiation
Black cumin seed oil may help reduce the damaging effects of radiation. Black cumin seed oil and its phytonutrients may protect against the oxidative stress and tissue injury caused by radiation. Multiple studies have found that these immune-system protecting effects extend to animals undergoing aggressive medical therapies involving radiation.[13, 14] Whether these effects apply to humans is unknown.
Encourages Normal Blood Sugar Levels
Black cumin seed oil has an incredible ability to help balance your blood sugar levels.[15, 16] Most studies focus on thymoquinone, the main phytonutrient in black seed oil, which might reduce glucose absorption in the intestine while supporting insulin production by the pancreas. Balancing blood sugar is critical for people with diabetes, prediabetes, or metabolic syndrome. However, even in healthy people, balancing your blood sugar helps you keep diseases at bay, maintain your energy, and reduce so-called oxidative stress in the body, which leads to aging.
Boosts the Immune System
The antioxidants and other beneficial compounds in black cumin seed oil may bolster the immune system. Several studies explore this effect in both animal and human models, including one study of rats that were over-exercised on a treadmill. Rats given black seed oil had a stronger immune system response immediately after the exercise compared to those who did not get it. People with autoimmune disorders may see greater benefits from black cumin seed oil than elderberry and echinacea.
Supports Lung Health
Black cumin seed oil's soothing powers might make it a natural and complementary remedy for lung health. One study found Nigella sativa oil reduces airway inflammation and encouraged easy breathing. In another study of people with allergies, researchers found that the oil reduced nasal congestion, itching, runny nose, and sneezing. If you’re looking for other ways to breathe easier, check out our lung cleanse article.
Resists Harmful Organisms
The antimicrobial properties of black cumin seed oil make it effective for warding off a range of pathogens in the body, including fungal pests like Candida. A 2008 study found Nigella sativa resisted the dangerous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. This activity against harmful organisms is a characteristic that black cumin seed oil shares with another oil that's popular among natural health enthusiasts — oregano oil.
Supports Liver Function
The liver is the body's main organ for detoxification. It breaks down many types of toxins from food, pharmaceuticals, and the environment that make their way into the bloodstream. It's good to know that this important organ has an ally in black cumin seed oil. In one study of liver oxidative stress markers in rats, researchers found that the oil reduced liver disease complications and slowed its progression, helping to restore healthy liver function.
Improves Gut Health
Black cumin seed oil also aids digestion. Studies have found that Nigella sativa may increase mucus secretion in the gut, helping digestion run more smoothly and reducing the risk of stomach ulcers by slowing gastric acid secretion. The antioxidant properties of black seed oil may also help conditions like colitis.
Top 5 Uses for Black Seed Oil
You can make your own wellness remedies with top-quality organic black cumin seed oil. DIY (do-it-yourself) products reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals that are so prevalent in most commercial products.
Enhance Your Complexion
Several studies show that black cumin seed oil reduces redness and itching on the skin.[24, 25] The bacteria species, Propionibacterium acnes, feeds on dead skin cells, leading to more redness and irritation. Black cumin seed oil not only repels this harmful organism, it may also reduce scarring and improve your complexion. Black seed oil can generally be safely applied directly to the skin — in fact, some people like to dab a drop directly onto acne. I recommend testing a drop of the oil on your inner wrist to see if your skin shows any sensitivity first. If redness or swelling occurs, try diluting in a carrier oil like almond or coconut oil.
How to Use: For a homemade acne remedy, mix one tablespoon of black cumin seed oil with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. First, apply a hot towel to your face to open the pores, then apply the mixture to your face. After 15 minutes, rinse your face with water.
Open Your Airways
Since black cumin seed oil may help you breathe easier, consider having this oil in your natural medicine cabinet. Reach for it to bring relief to your lungs, runny nose, or other breathing-related condition.
Support Your Weight Loss Efforts
You might have heard stories about black cumin seed oil's effectiveness as a weight loss aid. If you're trying to reach a healthy body weight, consider mixing it into a beverage for easy sipping. For more ideas, check out our weight loss tips article.
How to Use: Add four to five drops of black cumin seed oil, one teaspoon honey, and a squeeze of lemon to a cup of warm water. Drink daily before breakfast.
Thicken the Look of Your Locks
How to Use: For a homemade all-natural hair loss treatment, combine one teaspoon black cumin seed oil with one teaspoon olive oil and massage into balding areas. Let sit for thirty minutes before shampooing. Test a small area of the scalp first to make sure you don't develop an allergic reaction.
Round Out Your Nutrient Intake
This oil has so many health benefits — supporting weight loss, reducing gas and stomach bloating, immune system support, and heart and lung health — that it makes a great addition to your day as an all-purpose nutritional supplement. To ensure the highest quality, safest, and most effective oil, look for supplements that are certified-organic, GMO-free, pure pressed oils without chemical extraction, and with no additives. Look for packaging, such as dark-colored glass, that protects against rancidity.
How to Use: Take one teaspoon of black cumin seed oil once or twice daily. You can also mix one teaspoon of oil into a drink or smoothie.
Side Effects & Precautions
Remember, the chemical compounds in essential oils are very concentrated compared to how much you would find in powdered cumin spice. When used in small amounts as a food supplement, black cumin seed oil is quite safe for the long term. If you wish to take larger amounts, consult your healthcare provider, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Discontinue use of black seed oil if you develop any of the following side effects:
- Allergic rash
- Upset stomach
For children, black cumin seed oil should only be used sporadically in recommended amounts. Because of the effect black cumin seed oil has on blood sugar, if you are diabetic, check with your doctor since its use lowers blood sugar and could lead to hypoglycemia. If you have low blood pressure, know that this supplement has the potential to lower it further.[7, 8] Discontinue use of black cumin seed oil two weeks before any scheduled surgery, since it may slow blood clotting.
Points to Remember
If you are looking for a natural way to address a particular health issue, or simply support overall health, black cumin seed oil is one of the most loved ancient natural remedies. Black cumin seed oil can promote normal blood pressure, manage blood sugar, support the immune system, soothe allergies and lung issues, and discourage infection. You can use it for acne, hair growth, and to support weight loss and lung health. Make homemade DIY recipes with this amazing essential oil to create a healthier you. Black seed oil is generally safe to use for most people, so go ahead and see if this age-old cure makes a difference in your life.
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†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.