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Black seed (Nigella sativa)

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Also listed as: Nigella sativa
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • 2-Isopropyl-5-methyl-1,4-benzoquinone, 4-terpineol, ajenuz (Spanish), alanine, alkaloids, alpha-hederin, alpha-pinene, alpha-spinasterol, arachidonic acid protein, aranuel, arginine, ascorbic acid, asparagine, Baraka, beta-sitosterol, black caraway, black cumin, black cumin essential oil (BCEO), black cumin fixed oil (BCFO), black cumin seed, black onion seed, blackseed, blessed seed, calcium, campesterol, carvacrol, carvone, charnushka (Russian), citronellol, cominho negro (Portuguese), cominho-negro dicotyledon, copper, çörek otu (Turkish), crude fiber, crystalline nigellone, cymene, cystine, dehydroascorbic acid, dihomolinoleic acid, dithymoquinone, d-limonene, eicosadienoic acid, fennel flower, fennel-flower, fitch, folacin, garden fennel flower, glucose, glutamic acid, glycine, habbat al-barakah (Arabic), habbatul baraka (Arabic), hazak (Hebrew), iron, isoleucine, kalonji (Hindi), leucine, limonene, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, lipase, love in the mist, lysine, melanin, methionine, myristic acid, N. sativa (Kalonji) seed, niacin, nigella, Nigella damascene L., Nigella sativa, Nigella sativa L., Nigella sativa Linn., Nigella sativa Linneaus, Nigella suava L., nigellamines, nigelle de Crete (French), nigellicin, nigellidin, nigellimin, nigellimin-N-oxide, nigellin, nigellone, nutmeg flower, nutmeg-flower, oleic acid, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, p-cymene, pentacyclic triterpene, phenylalanine, phosphorus, phytosterols, potassium, prasaplai, pyridoxine, Ranunculaceae (family), riboflavin, Roman coriander, saponin, Schwarzkümmel (German), seeds of blessing, siyah daneh (Persian), sodium, stearic acid, steroidal glucoside, sterols, stigmasterol, synthetic thymoquinol derivative Poloxin, tannin, terpine, terpineol, thiamine, threonine, thymohydroquinone, thymol, thymoquinol, thymoquinone, thymoquinone (2-isopropyl-5-methyl-1,4-benzoquinone), thymoquinone poly (lactide-co-glycolide), toute épice (French), TQ, trans-anethole, tryptophan, tyrosine, zinc.
  • Note: According to secondary sources, other names used for black seed are onion seed and black sesame (both of which are similar-looking but unrelated). Frequently, the seeds are referred to as black cumin. However, while this may refer to the seeds of Nigella sativa, this may also refer to the seeds of a different plant, Bunium persicum.

Background
  • Black seed (Nigella sativa) is a flowering plant, native to southwest Asia. The plant has been used primarily in candies and liquors. In many Arabian, Asian, and African countries, black seed oil is used as a natural remedy for a wide range of diseases.
  • Good scientific evidence suggests that black seed may be effective in the treatment of lung disorders. It is unclear whether black seed may be effective in the treatment of other conditions, such as allergies, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


A boiled aqueous extract of Nigella sativa seed appears to offer benefits for chemical war victims and asthma patients. Improvements were noted in pulmonary function tests, wheezing, and coughing, as was a reduced need for oral and inhaled medications. More well-designed studies are required before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

B


Based on early research, Nigella sativa may be useful for reducing withdrawal symptoms in opiate-dependent patients. Further well-designed research is required before conclusions can be drawn.

C


Early human research suggests that black seed may decrease allergies. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

C


In preliminary research, Nigella sativa ointment was not useful for reducing symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Further well-designed research is required before conclusions can be drawn.

C


In limited human research, black seed oil reduced fasting blood glucose in patients with insulin-resistance syndrome. Further well-designed research is required before conclusions can be drawn.

C


In preliminary research, an extract of Nigella sativa seed had antiepileptic effects in children already being treated with drugs for epilepsy. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.

C


In human research, boiled extract of Nigella sativa reduced blood pressure in otherwise healthy patients with mild high blood pressure. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.

C


Some research suggests that Nigella sativa oil may improve plasma lipid profiles; however, the results are mixed. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests a combination of Nigella sativa and Phyllanthus niruri extract aids in sore throat relief in patients with acute tonsillopharyngitis. Further research on the effect of Nigella sativa alone is required before conclusions can be drawn.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Abdominal pain (peritonitis), abortifacient, abscesses, adenocarcinoma, alopecia (hair loss), antibacterial, anticoagulant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, anxiety, arthritis, birth outcomes, boils, breast cancer, bronchitis, bruises, cancer (general), cardiovascular disease, carminative, cerebral ischemia, chemopreventive (chemotherapy side effects), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), colitis, colon cancer, colorectal cancer, congestion, conjunctivitis, constipation, contraceptive, corns, cough, diabetic neuropathy, diarrhea, digestive tonic, diuretic, dysentery, dysmenorrhea, dyspnea, earache, edema, emmenagogue (stimulates menstrual flow), emphysema, erectile dysfunction, fever, food preservative, fungal infections, galactagogue (promotes the secretion of milk), gastric ulcer, gastrointestinal conditions, growth (animals), gynecological disorders, headache, heavy metal/lead toxicity, infection, hemorrhoids, hepatoprotection, HIV (medication side effects), hyperhomocysteinemia, immunomodulation, inflammation (encephalomyelitis), influenza, jaundice, kidney protection, kidney stones, laxative, liver cancer, lung cancer, malnutrition, metabolic disorders (metabolic syndrome), methicillin-resistant (MRSA), multiple sclerosis, muscle soreness (backache), nasal congestion, neurological disorders (Refsum's disease), neuroprotection, orchitis, osteoporosis, pain, pancreatic cancer, paralysis, parasites, Parkinson's disease, pimples, proteinuria, radioprotection, rheumatic diseases, sinusitis, skin disorders, snakebites, spinal cord injury, stimulant, stomach disorders, stress, sweating, systemic sclerosis, throat cancer (laryngeal carcinoma), tonic, ulcers, warts, weight loss.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For acne, inhalation of vapor of hot water with 1/2 teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been used.
  • For addiction (opiates), 500 milligrams of dried black seeds has been taken by mouth three times daily for up to 12 days.
  • For allergies, 40-80 milligrams per kilogram of black seed oil has been taken by mouth three times daily for up to eight weeks.
  • As an antifungal, the affected area of skin is wiped with cider vinegar, followed by application of Nigella sativa oil. The process is repeated if necessary.
  • For anxiety, 1/2 teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been taken by mouth with herbal tea.
  • For arthritis, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil with one teaspoon of olive oil has been taken by mouth three times daily.
  • For atopic dermatitis, an ointment containing 15% black seed oil has been applied to the skin for four weeks.
  • For bruises, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil with one teaspoon of olive oil has been taken by mouth three times daily.
  • For cold symptoms, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been taken by mouth three times daily.
  • For colic, Nigella sativa oil has been warmed and used to massage the abdomen.
  • For cough, the back and chest have been rubbed with Nigella sativa oil.
  • For diabetes, 2.5 milliliters of Nigella sativa oil has been taken by mouth twice daily for six weeks, in addition to existing metformin.
  • For diarrhea, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil with a cup of yogurt has been taken by mouth twice daily.
  • For earache, 1/2 teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil has been warmed and dripped into the ear, followed by placement of a hat or scarf over the ear.
  • For headache, 1/2 teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been taken by mouth after a meal three times daily.
  • For hair loss, 1/2-1 teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been applied to the scalp after the scalp has been stroked thoroughly with lemon, left for 15 minutes, then washed and dried.
  • For headache, the forehead and sides of the head and part of the face near the ears have been rubbed with Nigella sativa oil.
  • For high blood lipids, 2.5 milliliters of Nigella sativa oil has been taken by mouth twice daily for six weeks, in addition to existing lipid-lowering agents.
  • For high blood pressure, 100 and 200 milligrams of boiled extract has been taken by mouth twice daily for eight weeks. Based on traditional use, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been taken by mouth in any hot drink with two cloves of garlic before breakfast.
  • For influenza, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been taken by mouth three times daily.
  • For muscle soreness, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil with one teaspoon of olive oil has been taken by mouth three times daily.
  • For respiratory disorders, Nigella sativa boiled water extract (0.375 milliliters of a 50 milligrams per milliliter solution per kilogram) has been taken by mouth for two months. For asthma, 15 milliliters of a 0.1% boiled extract per kilogram has been taken by mouth daily for three months. For asthma, 50 or 100 milligrams of boiled Nigella sativa extract per kilogram has been taken by mouth. For asthma, the back and chest have been rubbed with Nigella sativa oil. For asthma and cough, inhalation of vapor of boiling water with one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been used.
  • For rheumatic diseases, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil with one teaspoon of olive oil has been taken by mouth three times daily.
  • For sinusitis, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been taken by mouth daily in chronic sinusitis cases; in acute sinusitis cases, one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil has been taken by mouth three times daily. Inhalation of Nigella sativa oil through the nose via a vapor bath has been used.
  • For stomach disorders, mint tea with lemon has been taken by mouth with one teaspoon of Nigella sativa oil three times daily or until symptoms are relieved.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • For allergies, 40-80 milligrams of black seed oil per kilogram has been used three times daily for up to eight weeks.
  • For epilepsy, an aqueous extract of Nigella sativa seed (40 milligrams per kilogram per hour) has been used together with standard treatment for four weeks.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with a known allergy or sensitivity to black seed, its constituents, black seed oil, or to members of the Ranunculaceae family. Allergic contact dermatitis has been reported.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Black seed is likely safe when taken by mouth by nonsensitive individuals in amounts normally found in foods.
  • Use cautiously in amounts higher than those normally found in food in patients with immune disorders, due to black seed's immune effects.
  • Black seed may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Black seed may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Black seed may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients with low blood pressure and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood pressure. Blood pressure may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • Black seed may induce growth of the heart similar to that caused by exercise training, reduce heart rate, cause gastrointestinal complaints (unspecified), cause constipation, or inhibit uterine contractions or conception.
  • Use cautiously in patients at risk for gastrointestinal side effects and in those taking drugs for epilepsy or cholesterol-lowering drugs.
  • Avoid when used in amounts higher than those normally found in food in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding or trying to conceive. Black seed may prevent uterine contractions and conception.
  • Avoid with a known allergy or sensitivity to black seed, its constituents, black seed oil, or to members of the Ranunculaceae family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid when used in amounts higher than those normally found in food in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding or trying to conceive. Black seed may prevent uterine contractions and conception.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Black seed may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Black seed may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood pressure. Patients taking drugs for high blood pressure should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Black seed may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Black seed may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased or decreased in the blood and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Black seed may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs, including central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
  • Black seed may also interact with analgesics, anthelmintics, antianxiety agents, antiarthritic agents, antiasthma drugs, antibiotics, anticholinergics, anticonvulsant agents, antifungals, antihistamines, antilipemic agents, antineoplastic agents, antiobesity agents, antiprotozoals, antipyretics, antiretroviral agents, antiulcer agents, antivirals, brucellosis vaccine, cardiovascular agents, cisplatin, COX-2 inhibitors, cyclosporin A, diuretics, doxorubicin, fertility agents, gastrointestinal agents, gentamicin, hepatotoxic agents, hormonal agents, ibuprofen, ifosfamide, immunosuppressants, leukotriene receptor antagonists, levodopa, neurologic agents, nicotinamide, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), oxytetracycline, oxytocics, pentylenetetrazol, permeation enhancers, radioprotective drugs, renally eliminated agents, reserpine, respiratory agents, rotenone, smooth muscle relaxants, warfarin.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Black seed may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Black seed may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Black seed may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Black seed may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high or too low in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the cytochrome P450 system.
  • Black seed may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements.
  • Black seed may also interact with agents processed by the kidneys, agents that affect the immune system, agents that may damage the liver, agents that stimulate breast milk, antianxiety agents, antiarthritic herbs and supplements, antiasthma herbs and supplements, antibacterials, anticancer agents, anticholinergic herbs, antifungals, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory herbs, antiobesity herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antiparasitics, antiulcer herbs and supplements, antivirals, broad bean, cardiovascular herbs and supplements, cholesterol-lowering agents, corn, diuretics, eggs, fertility agents, fever-reducing agents, gastrointestinal herbs and supplements, Hemidesmus indicus (Indian sarsaparilla), herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, herbs and supplements that are toxic to the liver, herbs and supplements used for epilepsy, honey, hormonal herbs and supplements, iron, iron-containing foods, lycopene, nicotinamide, neurologic herbs and supplements, pain relievers, permeation enhancers, Phyllanthus niruri, radioprotective agents, respiratory agents, selenium, Smilax glabra (sarsaparilla), smooth muscle relaxants, and uterine stimulants.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Abu-Al-Basal MA. In vitro and In vivo Anti-Microbial Effects of Linn. Seed Extracts Against Clinical Isolates from Skin Wound Infections. American Journal of Applied Sciences. 2009;6(8):1440-1447.
  2. Ali BH Blunden G. Pharmacological and toxicological properties of . Phytother Res. 2003;17(4):299-305.
  3. Awad EM. In vitro decreases of the fibrinolytic potential of cultured human fibrosarcoma cell line, HT1080, by oil. Phytomedicine 2005;12(1-2):100-107.
  4. Boskabady MH, Farhadi J. The possible prophylactic effect of seed aqueous extract on respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function tests on chemical war victims: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med 2008;14(9):1137-1144.
  5. Boskabady MH, Javan H, Sajady M,et al. The possible prophylactic effect of seed extract in asthmatic patients. Fundam Clin Pharmacol 2007;21(5):559-566.
  6. Butt MS, Sultan MT. : reduces the risk of various maladies. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2010;50(7):654-65.
  7. Farah N, Benghuzzi H, Tucci M, et al. The effects of isolated antioxidants from black seed on the cellular metabolism of A549 cells. Biomed Sci Instrum 2005;41:211-216.
  8. Gali-Muhtasib H, Diab-Assaf M, Boltze C, et al. Thymoquinone extracted from black seed triggers apoptotic cell death in human colorectal cancer cells via a p53-dependent mechanism. Int J Oncol 2004;25(4):857-866.
  9. Islam SN, Begum P, Ahsan T, et al. Immunosuppressive and cytotoxic properties of Nigella sativa. Phytother Res 2004;18(5):395-398.
  10. Kalus U, Pruss A, Bystron J, et al. Effect of (black seed) on subjective feeling in patients with allergic diseases. Phytother Res 2003;17(10):1209-1214.
  11. Morsi NM. Antimicrobial effect of crude extracts of on multiple antibiotics-resistant bacteria. Acta Microbiol Pol 2000;49(1):63-74.
  12. Norwood AA, Tucci M, Benghuzzi H. A comparison of 5-fluorouracil and natural chemotherapeutic agents, EGCG and thymoquinone, delivered by sustained drug delivery on colon cancer cells. Biomed Sci Instrum 2007;43:272-277.
  13. Otoom SA, Al Safi SA, Kerem ZK, et al. The use of medicinal herbs by diabetic Jordanian patients. J Herb Pharmacother 2006;6(2):31-41.
  14. Rooney S, Ryan MF. Effects of alpha-hederin and thymoquinone, constituents of , on human cancer cell lines. Anticancer Res 2005;25(3B):2199-2204.
  15. Steinmann A, Schatzle M, Agathos M, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis from black cumin () oil after topical use. Contact Dermatitis 1997;36(5):268-269.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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