The Benefits of Black Seed Oil

Black seed oil, also known as nigella sativa oil
Geo-grafika/Getty Images

Black seed oil is an oil that is extracted from the seeds of black cumin (Nigella sativa), a plant native to southwest Asia. Also known as black cumin seed oil, nigella sativa oil, or kalonji oil, the amber-hued oil is 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.

Uses for Black Seed Oil

Black seed oil is touted as a remedy for conditions such as allergiesasthma, diabetes, headaches, high blood pressure, digestive disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition, black seed oil is said to boost the immune systemreduce 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.

The slightly bitter seeds are used as a flavoring or spice in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine and are sometimes sprinkled on flatbread, naan bread, or bagels.

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 the 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 number of swollen joints.

Allergic Rhinitis

Black seed oil shows promise in the treatment of allergies. In a 2011 study published in 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.

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.

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.

Possible Side Effects

Very little is known about the safety of long-term use of black seed oil 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 warfarin (Coumadin). Stop taking black seed oil at least two weeks before 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.

5 Tips for Safely Using Supplements

Where Can I Find It?

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

A Word From Verywell

While using black seeds in small amounts in cooking can be a tasty of 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.

For more help in taming inflammation, consider following an anti-inflammatory diet and increasing your intake of inflammation-fighting foods like ginger.

Was this page helpful?
View Article Sources