What Is Black Seed Oil?
Black seed oil is produced from black seeds, which are also known as black cumin, nigella, kalonji, Roman coriander, and black caraway. The seeds come from the Nigella sativa plant - a small shrub with white or pale blue flowers that grows all across Western Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.
Black seed oil can be used in cooking, applied directly on the skin, or taken in the form of capsules. The active ingredient in black seed oil is called thymoquinone, and it’s a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound. We review five science-backed health benefits of black seed oil below.
1. Helps your success in weight loss
When it comes to weight loss, there’s no magic pill capable of making a person lose weight while they are sitting on the couch and overeating on a daily basis. Black seed oil will not make you magically lose weight, but it can improve the effectiveness of the things you’re already doing to shed those extra pounds.
Medical studies show that taking black seed oil with every meal along with a low-calorie diet can lower the body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference more than a low-calorie diet alone can. A review study from the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders confirmed that black cumin seed oil helps weight loss efforts in individuals who suffer from type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.
One 8-week study in 90 obese women aged 25-50 found that taking 1 gram of the oil with a meal 3 times a day made them lose more than their counterparts who took a placebo. A 2018 review study pointed out that the average weight loss with black seed oil was around 4.4 pounds (2.1 kilograms).
2. Benefits cardiovascular health and reduces blood pressure
Another noteworthy benefit of black cumin seed oil is its ability to promote cardiovascular health. More specifically, it’s capable of reducing blood pressure and reducing the levels of bad LDL-cholesterol levels. Research from 2013 observed improvements in blood pressure in adults who took ½ teaspoon of black seed oil two times a day after 8 weeks.
The study in obese women discussed earlier also found that the levels of LDL cholesterol in the participants who took black seed oil were lower compared to the placebo group. The same findings were observed in patients with type 2 diabetes in a 2015 study. Remember that both high levels of LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure lead to the development of heart disease and increase one’s risk of stroke and heart attack.
3. Fights acne and improves skin and hair health
Applying black seed oil directly on the skin and hair is beneficial for people suffering from several skin and hair issues - from dry hair and skin to psoriasis, eczema, and acne. The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects of the oil treat inflammation, calm, and nourish the skin and hair. A 2010 study found that a lotion with 20% black seed oil was superior to benzoyl peroxide at treating acne and had fewer side effects.
A 2013 study suggests that applying black seed oil on hand eczema 2 times a day over the course of 4 weeks was just as effective as the topical steroid Betamethasone and hand moisturizers. Speaking of which, black seed oil is an excellent moisturizing agent for skin, nails, and hair. You can either apply pure black seed oil on your skin and hair or mix the oil into your skincare and haircare products.
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4. May help lower blood sugar
Several human and animal model studies of type 2 diabetes suggest that taking 2 grams of crushed black seeds reduces fasting blood sugar levels and other blood markers of diabetes after 2-3 months of supplementation. Note that most of these studies included black seed powder in capsules, but more recent research suggests that black seed oil has identical effects.
One research paper suggests that taking as little ⅓ teaspoon of black cumin seed oil for 20 days reduced HbA1c levels (a blood test that measures average blood sugar over 3 months) in patients with type 2 diabetes. Keeping blood sugar within a normal range helps diabetics reduce their risk of serious health complications.
5. Improves asthma and breathing difficulties
Asthma is a chronic lung condition characterized by difficultly breathing, wheezing, coughing, and reduced lung function. Studies suggest that combining black seed oil with asthma medication can help the symptoms of the disease. Thymoquinone reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles in the airways, which makes it easier for the patient to breathe.
A study that included 80 adult asthma patients found that taking 500 mg of black seed oil capsules twice daily over one month improved the patients’ ability to control their condition. Black seed oil may also be beneficial for improving lung function in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a different chronic lung condition that makes it hard for patients to breathe.
How to Use Black Cumin Seed Oil
There are many ways you could use black seed oil. If you intend to take it internally, you can purchase it in capsule form. Black seed oil is also available in liquid form at health food stores and drugstores, which allows you to use it as a supplement, a cooking ingredient, or a skincare and haircare product.
It’s important to buy the highest quality black seed oil you can get - ideally, it should be cold-pressed 100% Nigella sativa oil. Black cumin seed oil has a spicy and bitter taste reminiscent of oregano or cumin. So, if you will be taking it as a liquid, it may be useful to mix it with honey or lemon juice to balance out the flavor and make it easier to consume. Begin by taking no more than ½ teaspoon of the oil and slowly build up to 1-2 teaspoons daily.
Note that black seed oil will not be able to replace any medication. Moreover, people who take any medication should discuss using black seed oil with their doctor or dietitian because it can interact with medications like beta-blockers. People suffering from kidney issues should also consult their doctors prior to taking black seed oil.
Most people experience little to no side effects while taking black seed oil, but there are some reports of constipation, nausea, vomiting, and bloating. When you’re applying black seed oil directly on the skin, patch-test the oil first on a small area to make sure you’re not allergic to it. All in all, black seed oil is easy to use and try. We hope that you found this information helpful.
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