A Long History of Therapeutic Use
The black seed of nigella sativa (black cumin seed) has been used for over three thousand years for preventing and treating many different diseases. In ancient texts and historical documents black cumin seed is noted for its therapeutic attributes and ability to support the body in its own natural healing processes. Archeological studies report that black cumin seed seeds have been found in several sites from ancient Egypt, including in the tomb of Tutankhamun. It has been revered as a beauty secret since ancient times as Queen Nefertiti, renowned for her complexion, was, a reportedly a devoted black cumin seed user. Ibri Sina, the Persian physician and philosopher, discussed black cumin seed in the text Canon of Medicine, considered a hallmark publication in the history of human medicine and used as the primary medical text throughout Europe until the 17th century. In it he states that black cumin seed has preventive and restorative features as it “stimulates the body’s energy and helps in recovery from fatigue and dispiritedness.”
What conditions can black cumin seed help address?
• Cancer. Black cumin seed has potent anti-oxidant properties and these are thought to be behind the cancer prevention properties demonstrated in animal studies. In vitro and animal studies also show inhibition and reduction of tumor growth in various types of cancer including blood, breast, colon, pancreatic, liver, lung, skin, kidney, prostate and cervix. There are also demonstrated benefits as an adjunctive to chemotherapy in humans—for instance, black cumin seed shows a potential ability to decrease the incidence of side effects in children with brain tumors who are on chemotherapy. Its active component, thymoquinone, sensitizes brain cancer cells to chemotherapy, making treatment more effective.
• Heart Disease and Diabetes. Black cumin seed favorably affects several parameters related to heart disease riskincluding lowering total and LDL cholesterol, reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, reducing plaque formation. It also reduces blood glucose, as well as diabetic-associated complications such as neuropathy.
• Infections. Black cumin seed is a potent antimicrobial with the ability to fight bacteria, parasites, fungi and even viruses. It has demonstrated activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the strain of bacteria that is difficult to treat and resistant to antibiotics. Black cumin seed even reduces viral load and improves other markers in patients with hepatitis C.
• Neurological Conditions. Black cumin seed has been shown in in vitro and animal studies to be protective of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. Learning and memory is also improved in animals given black cumin seed. Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties are thought to be responsible for this effect.
• Immune Disorders. Black cumin seed has been shown helpful in autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis, and also allergic asthma, sinusitis, and eczema. In a 2018 placebo-controlled clinical trial, anti-TPO antibodies reduced from an average 295 to 148 (IU/ml, p=0.019) and TSH decreased from 6.42 to 4.13 (mIU/l, p-0.03) in patients receiving 2g/d powdered black cumin seed for 8 weeks. For a deeper dive into the application of black cumin seed for asthma and allergy, evidenced by several human studies, you’ll want to read our recent article by CDP colleague Sezelle Gereau, Functional otolaryngologist: Consider Nigella Sativa for Asthma and Allergy.
• Pain. Black cumin seed oil, applied topically, is better than moderate dosing of oral acetaminophen (paracetamol) at reducing pain from knee osteoarthritis. Oral black cumin seed oil also has general analgesic effects, according to animal studies.
What Form to Take? Seed or Oil? And How Much?
In human clinical trials, dosages of 1-3 grams of black cumin seed powder has been used (orally) for up to 12 months. 2 months is recommended before checking on changes to cholesterol or blood glucose management. Black cumin seed oil is used orally at doses up to 5 mL or 40 mg per kg for up to 8 weeks for therapeutic effects. Topical use, for example for knee osteoarthritis, has included 1 mL applied locally three times per day.
Tell us – have you been using black cumin seed oil? Will you start using it? Add your comments below.
Our Nutrition Resident, Jim Wilday, contributed to this article. This personal note is from Jim: I have been including 1 tsp of black cumin seed oil in a morning smoothie for better than three years. There are lots of health-giving ingredients in this drink so it’s difficult to distinguish with pinpoint accuracy, what black cumin seed’s effects are for me. My sense is that it improves my energy and alertness throughout the day and has allowed me to sleep through the night without interruption. My interest in doing additional research was piqued when learning of a patient whose list of unwanted symptoms all disappeared when taking black cumin seed and promptly returned when he discontinued usage. I promptly went to the U.S. Library of Medicine database, PubMed, and did a search on “black cumin seed oil”. It returned 1,069 peer- reviewed scientific studies.
Jim’s bio – Jim Wilday MS has a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition from University of Bridgeport and is a certified health and wellness coach by Real Balance Global Wellness Services. He is currently working toward Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) licensure. Prior to enrollment in the Functional Nutrition Residency Program (FNRP) under Dr. Kara Fitzgerald ND, Jim was interning within a New Jersey practice specializing in nutrition counseling and chiropractic care. Jim’s prior career was as both a direct sales and management executive selling high-end software solutions primarily to
- the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industry. Having had a serious interest in natural healthcare for decades, he is excited and inspired by the quantum leap forward in healthcare that he recognizes Functional Medicine to represent and is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the FNRP.*
SOURCE: Dr. Kara Fitzgerald
The skin healing properties of black seed oil
Posted by Erin Elizabeth | May 24, 2019
The healing properties of black seed (Nigella sativa) oil have been known for thousands of years. It has been used both orally and topically fight disease in many different practices of medicine through-out the ages. In our modern times its actions and efficacy is increasingly backed by solid scientific understanding and an evidence base.
The use of black seed oil to beautify and improve the skin condition is well established; in fact, the famed beauty of Cleopatra is believed to be in part due to her use of black seeds. The oil of the Nigella sativa is packed with valuable components like vitamins A, B, and C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and trace elements providing the necessary nutritive factors for skin recovery and repair. Black seed oil also has a number of useful pharmacological actions which make it a fantastic natural option for treating diseases of the skin.
Black Seed and Psoriasis
Psoriasis is skin condition in which scaly pink plaques appear over the body, these can be sore and itchy and can be a source of embarrassment. The condition is caused by an abnormal immune reaction in the body causing abnormal proliferation of the epidermal layer of skin.
Black seed oil is well recognized to regulate the body’s immune cells (up regulating some and down regulating others), [i] it also enhances the body’s ability to deal with abnormal cell proliferation. [ii]
Traditionally, black seeds have been applied externally for psoriatic skin to manage the general pain and patches of eruption. A recent lab based study examined the effect of nigella sativa seed extract on an animal model of psoriasis, they examined the histological (cellular level) effects and found that Nigella sativa has anti-psoriatic activity and concluded that the external application is beneficial in the management of psoriasis.[iii]
Black Seed and Eczema
Eczema is a condition characterized by skin inflammation. Itchy, red, patches appear, which can weep and crust. It commonly affects around joints and the mainstay of treatment is with moisturizers and steroid creams. In severe cases systemic immunosuppression is needed.
Black seed oil has fantastic emollient properties, forming a non-greasy film and providing nutritive factors the skin needs. A clinical trial which compared the effects of Nigella sativa oil applied twice daily compared to a conventional steroid cream (Betamethasone) for hand eczema found both to be equally effective in reducing symptoms.[iv] The clear benefit of black seed oil over steroid use is its lack of side effects.
In addition to fighting bacteria that causes acne, black seed oil also fights fungus. Black seed oil has proven anti-fungal effects against the common skin fungal infectious organisms (dermatophytes) which cause conditions like fungal nail infections, athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm. [v]
Acne is a multifactorial condition which commonly affects teenagers however can persist into adulthood. It can result in disfiguring scarring. A number of factors are thought to contribute to the disease including hormonal, dietary, localized skin inflammatory response and infections.
Black seed oil has several properties which can reduce the symptoms of acne including anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects. The nutritive factors in the oil can also help in repair and regeneration of damaged skin. Black seed oil is also a natural anti-histamine ideal for treating for skin conditions related to allergy.
Black Seed and Skin Cancers
Cancer occurs when cells become abnormal and replicate in an uncontrolled way. The cells which make up the layers of skin are the most highly exposed in the body and hence skin cancer is one of the most common forms of human cancer. Globally, approximately one million new cases occur annually and this is increasing year on year. The two most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, in both of these prolonged ultraviolet light exposure is a risk major factor.
Nigella sativa has been proven to have a range of anti-cancer effects against many different abnormal cell types. [vi] Specific effects against skin cancer cells have been demonstrated.
Squamous cell carcinomas affect the epidermal layer of the skin; they can spread and invade surrounding tissues. Nigella sativa extract has been found to be effective against squamous cell carcinoma cells in vitro (using human skin cancer cells cultured cells in a lab), the study found that the active anti- cancer extract from black seeds (Thymoquinone) inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in squamous cell carcinoma. The authors conclude that Thymoquinone is a potential antineoplastic therapy in this common skin cancer.
Benefits of Black Seed Oil for Skin Complexion
The powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and nutritive properties of black seed oil can help to restore the natural health and vitality of skin. The oil can be taken orally or applied and massaged directly into the skin. The rich array of oils provides deep skin moisturization. Additionally vitamin A, amino acids and fatty acids work together to help skin regeneration.
It is difficult to fully describe the way black seed oil works in a single article; Nigella sativa is a truly magical plant with complex properties we are just beginning to understand.
[i] Alshatwi AA. Bioactivity-guided identification to delineate the immunomodulatory effects of methanolic extract of Nigella sativa seed on human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Chin J Integr Med. 2014 Mar 2. [Epub ahead of print]
[ii] Majdalawieh AF, Hmaidan R, Carr RI. Nigella sativa modulates splenocyte proliferation, Th1/Th2 cytokine profile, macrophage function and NK anti- tumor activity. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Sep 15;131(2):268-75. doi: 10.1016/ j.jep.2010.06.030. Epub 2010 Jun 30.
[iii] Dwarampudi LP, Palaniswamy D, Nithyanantham M et al. Antipsoriatic activity and cytotoxicity of ethanolic extract of Nigella sativa seeds. Pharmacogn Mag. 2012 Oct;8(32):268-72. doi: 10.4103/0973-1296.103650.
[iv] Yousefi M, Barikbin B, Kamalinejad M et al. Comparison of therapeutic effect of topical Nigella with Betamethasone and Eucerin in hand eczema. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Dec;27(12):1498-504. doi: 10.1111/ jdv.12033. Epub 2012 Dec 1.
[v] Aljabre SH, Randhawa MA, Akhtar N, et al. Antidermatophyte activity of ether extract of Nigella sativa and its active principle, thymoquinone. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Oct 3;101(1-3):116-9.
[vi] Khan MA, Chen HC, Tania M, et al. Anticancer activities of Nigella sativa (black cumin). Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):226-32. doi: 10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.10. Epub 2011 Jul 3.
*Article originally appeared at Green Med Info.
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