It is considered one of the most important medicinal plants and its beneficial properties are reported in ancient manuscripts, we are talking about nigella sativa, or black seed. In particular, from the seeds of nigella sativa an oil is obtained, which has always been considered a valid natural remedy for combating ulcers, abscesses, joint pain and asthma (Ahmad et al, J Herb Med, 2021). But it's not just a popular belief. In recent years, in fact, numerous scientific studies have been dedicated to analyzing the health effects of nigella sativa or black seed oil. And what resulted is truly amazing. But let's try to understand better.
Black seed oil, nutrients and properties
The beneficial properties of nigella sativa or black seed oil are mainly attributed to a substance called thymoquinone. In fact, thymoquinone has hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, anticancer and neuroprotective properties (Ahmad et al, J Herb Med, 2021). In addition to thymoquinone, black seed oil also provides essential fatty acids, such as linoleic and oleic acids, useful for counteracting inflammation and protecting the brain and the cardiovascular system (Ahmad et al, J Herb Med, 2021).
Black seed oil, free radicals and cellular degeneration
Black seed oil is an antioxidant and therefore fights free radical damage and aging processes. Not only that, noteworthy is the action of black seed oil against different types of cancer. Studies have shown, in vitro, that black seed oil was able, for example, to reduce the proliferation and viability of breast cancer cells (Baig et al, Drug Metab Pers Ther, 2022).
Black seed oil against arthrosis
Black seed or nigella sativa oil, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic action, is also useful in case of arthrosis. In fact, it has been shown that, in the case of knee osteoarthritis, taking half a teaspoon of black seed oil 3 times a day for a month has improved the related symptoms, such as pain and stiffness, and reduced the dose of painkillers (Huseini et al, Complement Ther Clin Pract, 2022).
Black seed oil against asthma
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. Well, taking black seed oil has been shown to ease inflammation, improve lung function and reduce airway hyperreactivity. Airway hyperreactivity is a characteristic of asthma and consists of an excessive narrowing of the bronchi in the event of external stimuli, which can be physical exertion, cold or dry air, irritants (Ikhsan et al, BMC Res Notes, 2018 - Koshak et al, Saudi Pharm J, 2017).
Black seed oil and obesity
Thanks to its main active ingredient, thymoquinone, black seed oil has also shown to counteract obesity. In particular, this oil helps reduce adipogenesis, which is the process by which adipose tissue is formed, regulates appetite and promotes weight loss in case of overweight or obesity (Ammendola et al, Nutrients, 2022). In addition to this action, black seed oil also improves the lipid profile, indicators of fatty liver and blood sugar (Asoom et al, Vasc Health Risk Manag, 2022).
Black seed oil, how to take it
Nigella sativa or black seed oil is a valid condiment for salads and as an ingredient in sauces and gravies, always added raw. This oil can even be used for the preparation of mayonnaise, increasing its resistance and stability (Rahim et al, Foods, 2022). Nigella sativa oil is considered generally safe. Doses of one teaspoon per day for two months have shown no side effects or toxicity. In some cases, in predisposed people suffering from dyspepsia, which is a generic term that indicates digestive difficulties, the intake of this oil can cause nausea, acidity and swelling (Tavakkoli et al, J Pharmacopuncture., 2017). Therefore, in general, the oil of nigella sativa or black seed, if taken in small doses, a teaspoon, and for a short period of time is safe and well tolerated. For what concerns the safety of taking the oil for longer periods of time or at higher doses, research does not offer, at present, a comprehensive answer yet. For the same reason it is good to avoid using black seed oil during pregnancy and breastfeeding or if you are taking medications, such as beta blockers or warfarin, to avoid interactions. In any case, it is always good to ask your doctor for advice before starting any treatment based on black seed oil.