Black cumin is a plant with many valuable properties that promote good health and well-being. Its seeds and leaves are used for both spice and medicinal purposes. Black cumin is sometimes called “the gold of the pharaohs” or “black cumin” – its inconspicuous seeds were known and valued since ancient times. What does it help? When is it better to stop eating black cumin seeds or using black cumin oil? We explain.
- Black cumin (Nigella sativa L.) – what is worth knowing?
- Nutritional values of black cumin seeds
- The healing properties of black cumin
- How to use black cumin?
- Black cumin – contraindications
Black cumin is an inconspicuous annual plant from the buttercup family, growing in dry, subtropical and temperate climates, widely distributed in Europe and Africa. Black cumin does not impress with its impressive appearance – this annual plant reaches up to 40 cm in height, has double or triple pinnate leaves and small blue, yellowish, greenish or white flowers. Black cumin leaves are a source of vitamin C – they contain more of it than parsley. After black cumin blooms, it produces small fruits containing black, aromatic seeds known for their health-promoting properties. It is easy to miss black cumin among other plants, e.g. in a meadow. It is worth learning more about the possibilities of using black cumin seeds and their unique health-promoting properties, which were already used in ancient Egypt.
Black cumin (Nigella sativa L.) – what is worth knowing?
Black cumin occupies an important place among plants with medicinal properties. References to black cumin can be found in the Old Testament; The father of medicine, Hippocrates, also wrote about this plant. Black cumin seeds are often used as a spice – in Polish cuisine, they were traditionally added, among others: for bread, giving it an interesting, spicy taste, which is caused by the essential oils contained in black cumin seeds. Legend has it that black cumin oil was found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. There is no shortage of written evidence of the use of black cumin for medicinal and preventive purposes.
However, it is worth relying not only on information passed down from generation to generation about the use and action of black cumin seeds, but also on scientific evidence. Numerous studies have been conducted which confirm that black cumin can have a positive impact on the functioning of the human body, helping to alleviate the symptoms of many diseases and health ailments. You have to remember that black cumin seeds are not a “magic medicine” that can replace a visit to the doctor and pharmacological treatment tailored to the patient’s needs. Before reaching for black cumin to fight disease symptoms and health ailments, it is worth seeking advice from a doctor.
Black cumin seeds are sometimes presented as a natural remedy for every ailment. Although they actually contribute to improving health – black cumin seeds and black cumin oil have, among others, anti-inflammatory effect, they should be used in moderation. An overdose of black cumin may cause troublesome stomach problems. What’s more, not everyone should use black cumin seeds and black cumin oil. For therapeutic and preventive purposes, it should not be used in children under 3 years of age or in pregnant women.
Although black cumin seeds and black cumin seed oil are natural products, it is possible to experience side effects from their use, including: allergic reaction.
Nutritional values of black cumin seeds
Black cumin contains vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, natural antioxidants, protein, important exogenous amino acids and dietary fiber. The inconspicuous black cumin seeds contain about 100 active compounds that have a positive effect on the functioning of the body.
Black cumin seeds and black cumin oil provide our body with, among others:
exogenous amino acids (phenylalanine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, valine),
vitamins – (vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins and folic acid),
minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, copper, zinc)
unsaturated fatty acids (including linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, oleic acid, eicosadeic acid)
Black cumin seeds (ground black cumin seeds are used for medicinal purposes), black cumin oil and water extracts have health properties and are used to support the treatment of frequently diagnosed diseases, as well as an element of prevention, e.g. lifestyle diseases.
The healing properties of black cumin
Black cumin has the following effects:
- antibacterial – due to the antibacterial effect of black cumin, it is perfect as a support for antibiotic therapy, among others. in the course of infection with Staphylococcus aureus (Staphylococcus aureus);
- antiviral – the effective effect of black cumin oil in the course of infection caused by Cytomegalovirus and hepatitis C virus has been confirmed;
- antiparasitic – the use of black cumin seeds and black cumin oil helps in the treatment of parasitic infections, supporting the treatment of, among others, tapeworm infections and malaria;
- antioxidant – natural antioxidants contained in black cumin reduce free oxygen radicals at the cellular level, reducing the number of pro-inflammatory mediators and slowing down the body’s aging processes;
- antidiabetic – fatty acids found in black cumin seeds and black cumin oil reduce blood sugar levels and lipid levels;
- antiallergic – black cumin has anti-allergic properties, reducing symptoms of the upper respiratory tract. Studies have shown that after two weeks of using black cumin extract, the subjects’ allergy symptoms associated with inflammation of the nasal mucosa decreased;
- anti-inflammatory – the anti-inflammatory properties of black cumin are used in the treatment of many chronic diseases (e.g. osteoporosis, atopic dermatitis, acne)
- anti-cancer – research has proven that black cumin anti-cancer substances have strong cytotoxic properties, including: against human breast cancer cells.
The biologically active compounds contained in black cumin also include:
gastroprotective activity – black cumin reduces, among others, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, reducing the symptoms of gastric and duodenal ulcers, as well as gastroesophageal reflux. Traditionally, it is used for various ailments of the digestive tract;
immunoregulatory activity – bioactive compounds from black cumin seeds regulate various reactions of the immune system, reducing, among others, secretion of pro-inflammatory mediators;
hepatoprotective, nephroprotective and neuroprotective activity – biological compounds present in black cumin have a protective effect on liver, kidney and brain cells.
Regular use of black cumin oil and black cumin seeds ensures proper functioning of the nervous systemproviding the body with valuable vitamins and minerals, as well as compounds with proven calming and mood-improving effects, relieves allergy symptomsimproves the functioning of the digestive, urinary and cardiovascular systems, as well as lowers blood glucose levels. Moreover, regular use of black cumin affects blood pressure, helps prevent the development of atherosclerosis, reduces the symptoms of gout, prevents the formation of urinary stones, helps prevent osteoporosis, and also plays an important role in reducing chronic inflammation and treating infections and chronic respiratory diseases (e.g. .asthma).
Black cumin is also used in the treatment of dermatoses and helps take care of the beautiful appearance of your hair, preventing excessive hair loss and helping you get rid of dandruff faster.
It is worth remembering that although the medicinal properties of black cumin have been confirmed by numerous studies, black cumin seeds and black cumin oil should not be used for medicinal purposes without consulting a doctor. Natural therapies cannot replace conventional treatment.
How to use black cumin?
Black cumin can be used in several ways. If you want to enrich your diet with valuable vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, it is worth using black cumin seeds as an addition to salads, home-made bread, fatty meats, one-pot dishes and sweet desserts.
Ground black cumin seeds and black cumin oil are used for medicinal purposes. The recommended daily intake of ground black cumin seeds is 2-5 g twice a day. The recommended daily intake of black cumin oil is 500-1000 mg 2-3 times a day.
Black cumin – contraindications
Contraindications to the use of black cumin include:
occurrence of allergy symptoms after consuming black cumin or applying black cumin oil to the skin,
severe vomiting and diarrhea,
If you want to use ground black cumin seeds or black cumin oil in children, you should consult your doctor. Medical consultation is also necessary for pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with chronic diseases.
Roksana Jurczak, Julita Reguła, Health-promoting properties of black cumin and its importance in the treatment of gout, Metabolic Disorders Forum, 9(3), pp. 95–102, 2018
Magdalena Borusiewicz, Zbigniew Janeczko, Nigella sativa L. – a plant raw material with pleiotropic properties, Postępy Fitoterapia, (16)4, pp. 223-236, 2015
Klaudia Ciesielska-Figlon, Agnieszka Daca, Katarzyna A. Lisowska, Black cumin seed oil (Nigella sativa) as an immunomodulatory product, Postępy Fitoterapia, 20(1), pp. 35-40, 2019
A. Ahmad, A. Husain, M. Mujeeb, S. Alam Khan, A. Kalam Najmi, N. Ali Siddique, Z. A Damanhouri, F. Anwar, A review on therapeutic potential of Nigella sativa: A miracle herb, DOI : 10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60075-1