The Health Benefits of Black Seed Oil

Black seed oil

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In This Article

Black seed oil is extracted from the seeds of Nigella sativa, a plant native to southwest Asia. The black seeds are slightly bitter and sometimes used as a flavoring or spice in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. The amber-hued oil is also used in cooking and is said to offer a range of health benefits. One of the key components of black seed oil is thymoquinone, a compound with antioxidant properties.

Black seed oil has a long history of use dating back over 2000 years. According to some sources it was discovered in the tomb of King Tut. The oil is used by some for the treatment of conditions including asthma, diabetes, hypertension, weight loss, and other conditions. There is scientific evidence to support some, but not all, uses for black seed oil.

Also Known As

Black seed oil is known by several names including:

  • Black cumin seed oil
  • Kalonji oil
  • Nigella sativa oil

Health Benefits

Although research on the health effects of black seed oil is fairly limited, there's some evidence that it may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from available studies

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Black seed oil may aid in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a small study published in Immunological Investigations in 2016. For the study, 43 women with mild-to-moderate rheumatoid arthritis took black seed oil capsules or a placebo every day for one month.

The study results showed that treatment with black seed oil led to a reduction in arthritis symptoms (as assessed by the DAS-28 rating scale), blood levels of inflammatory markers, and the number of swollen joints.

Nasal Inflammation

Black seed oil shows promise in the treatment of allergies. In a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology, for instance, black seed oil was found to reduce the presence of nasal congestion and itching, runny nose, and sneezing after two weeks.

Another report published in 2018 analyzed data to determine if black seed oil could help in the treatment of sinusitis. Study authors concluded that the oil has therapeutic potential in the treatment of the condition due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antihistaminic, immune-modulator, antimicrobial, and analgesic effects.

Diabetes

Black seed oil may be of some benefit to people with diabetes, according to a review published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2015. Researchers analyzed previously published studies on the use of Nigella sativa for diabetes and concluded that it could improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels in diabetes models but noted that clinical trials are necessary to clarify the effects.

Another research review published in 2017 confirmed these findings.

Asthma

Preliminary research suggests that black seed oil may offer benefits to people with asthma. For example, a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2017 found that people with asthma who took black seed oil capsules had a significant improvement in asthma control compared with those who took a placebo.

Obesity

Black seed oil may reduce risk factors in women who are obese, according to a study.

For the study, women consumed Nigella sativa oil or a placebo while following a low-calorie diet for eight weeks. At the study's end, weight, waist circumference, and triglyceride levels had decreased by more in the group that took the Nigella sativa oil.

Another eight-week study combined aerobic exercise with black seed oil in a trial with overweight sedentary women. Researchers found that the exercise protocol paired with supplementation provided benefits including lower cholesterol levels

Other Uses

Black seed oil is also used as a remedy for conditions such as allergies, asthma, diabetes, headaches, high blood pressure, and digestive disorders.

In addition, black seed oil is said to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and fight infections. The oil is used topically for skin and hair concerns, such as acne, dry hair, psoriasis, hair growth, and dry skin.

Possible Side Effects

Very little is known about the safety of long-term use of black seed oil or when used in amounts higher than what's normally found in food. However, there's some evidence that applying black seed oil directly to the skin may cause an allergic skin rash (known as allergic contact dermatitis) in some individuals.

According to a report, a component of black seed oil known as melanthin may be toxic in larger amounts. In a case report, a woman developed fluid-filled skin blisters after applying Nigella sativa oil to the skin. She also ingested the oil and the report's authors state it is possible that the blisters were part of a systemic reaction (such as toxic epidermal necrolysis).

Black seed oil may slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking medication that affects blood clotting, you shouldn't take black seed oil.

There's some concern that taking too much black seed oil may harm your liver and kidneys. It's possible that black seed oil may interact with many common medications, such as beta-blockers and (Coumadin) warfarin. Stop taking black seed oil at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Pregnant women (or women trying to become pregnant) and breastfeeding women shouldn't use black seed oil. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you're considering taking black seed oil. You shouldn't stop any of your medication without speaking with your doctor, or delay or avoid conventional treatment.

Dosage and Preparation

There is not enough scientific evidence to establish a recommended dose of black seed oil. The right dose for you may depend on your age, health, and other factors.

Various doses of black seed oil have been studied in research.

For example, in studies investigating the effects of black seed oil on patients with breast pain, a gel containing 30% black seed oil was applied to the breasts every day for two menstrual cycles.

In studies investigating whether or not black seed oil can improve sperm function, a dose of 2.5 mL of black seed oil was used twice daily for two months.

To get advice regarding the best dose for you, speak to your healthcare provider if you plan to use black seed oil.

What to Look For

Widely available for purchase online, black seed oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

When choosing an oil, many consumers prefer to buy a product that is cold-pressed and organic to make sure that the oil is in its most natural state. Read labels carefully to make sure that other ingredients haven't been added to the product you choose.

Also, it's important to keep in mind that dietary supplements are largely unregulated by the FDA. It is not legal to market a dietary supplement product as a treatment or cure for a specific disease or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease. But the FDA does not test products for safety or effectiveness.

You may choose to look for familiar brands or products that have been certified by ConsumerLabs, The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, or NSF International. These organizations don't guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but they do provide a certain level of testing for quality.

A Word From Verywell

While using black seeds in small amounts in cooking can be a tasty way of incorporating the seeds in your diet, large-scale clinical trials are needed before the oil can be recommended as a treatment for any condition.

If you're still thinking of using black seed oil for health purposes, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider first to weigh the pros and cons and discuss whether it's right for you.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Heshmati J, Namazi N. Effects of black seed (Nigella sativa) on metabolic parameters in diabetes mellitus: a systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2015;23(2):275-82. doi:+10.1016/j.ctim.2015.01.013

  3. Koshak A, Wei L, Koshak E, et al. Nigella sativa Supplementation Improves Asthma Control and Biomarkers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Phytother Res. 2017;31(3):403-409. doi:10.1002/ptr.5761

  4. Mahdavi R, Namazi N, Alizadeh M, Farajnia S. Effects of Nigella sativa oil with a low-calorie diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in obese women: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Food Funct. 2015;6(6):2041-8. doi:10.1039/c5fo00316d

  5. Kooti W, Hasanzadeh-noohi Z, Sharafi-ahvazi N, Asadi-samani M, Ashtary-larky D. Phytochemistry, pharmacology, and therapeutic uses of black seed (Nigella sativa). Chin J Nat Med. 2016;14(10):732-745.

  6. Okasha EF, Bayomy NA, Abdelaziz EZ. Effect of Topical Application of Black Seed Oil on Imiquimod-Induced Psoriasis-like Lesions in the Thin Skin of Adult Male Albino Rats. Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2018;301(1):166-174.

  7. Ijaz H, Tulain UR, Qureshi J, et al. Review: Nigella sativa (Prophetic Medicine): A Review. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2017;30(1):229-234.

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