What is black seed oil?
Black seeds are also known as black caraway, black cumin, kalonji, and black onion seeds.
They come from Nigella sativa, a small plant with pale purple, blue, or white flowers that grows in Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and the Middle East.
People have used the tiny black seeds of the fruits of Nigella sativa as a natural remedy for thousands of years. The seeds can also flavor curries, pickles, and bread in a similar way to cumin or oregano.
Benefits of black seed oil
Scientists with a range of specialties have researched the possible benefits of black seed oil.
However, it is important to note that many studies to date have used cells or animals as models, and there is limited research available on the effects of black seed oil in humans.
Benefits for weight loss
Benefits for the skin
Black seed oil may be beneficial for people with the following skin conditions:
- Eczema: According to a small-scale 2013 study comparing the therapeutic benefits of N. sativa with those of prescription medications, black seed oil can reduce the severity of hand eczema.
- Acne: Research suggests that the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of black seed oil can improve acne. In one study, 58 percent of participants rated their response to this treatment as good, while 35 percent felt their results were moderate.
- Psoriasis: A 2012 study on mice suggests that the oil may also have antipsoriatic benefits.
Black seed oil may also hydrate hair, soften skin, and act as a moisturizer, although there is a lack of scientific evidence to confirm these benefits.
Benefits for health conditions
Black seed oil may also be beneficial for some health conditions, including the following:
Recent studies have shown that the thymoquinone in black seed oil can influence programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in several types of a cancer cell. These include brain cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer cells.
However, much of the research on the effects of black seed oil on cancer uses cells rather than live humans, so researchers do not yet know how effective the oil may be to treat people with cancer.
Liver and kidney function
According to a 2013 study on rats, black seed oil may reduce liver and kidney disease complications and improve the organ structures. Researchers do not know if these effects would also occur in humans.
According to an article in the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism, black seed oil may have anti-diabetic properties and improve blood sugar levels. Again, this study used animal models, so more research is necessary to confirm the effectiveness of oil in humans.
Side effects and risks
People should not use black seed oil in place of medication.
Although black seed oil seems to offer certain health benefits, this supplement does not replace medication.
People taking medication should talk to their doctor before using herbal supplements, such as black seed oil.
The doctor can advise on possible interactions with the medication and also discuss the potential benefits and side effects of the supplement. It is essential never to stop taking medication without a doctor’s advice.