Black Seed (Nigella sativa)
Black Seed Nigella sativa, also known as black caraway, and/or the black cumin (Kalonji), is an herbaceous plant is native to the hot, dry climates of the Middle East, Northern Africa, and some parts of the Mediterranean. The seeds are so popular that more acreage is devoted to growing this blessed seed every year.
Black seeds are tiny and hairy, being no more than 3mm in length. The seeds originate from the common fennel flower plant (Nigella sativa) of the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family. Nigella sativa is sometimes mistakenly confused with the fennel herb plant (Foeniculum vulgare).
The plant has finely divided foliage and pale bluish purple or white flowers. The flowers grow terminally on its branches while the leaves grow opposite each other in pairs, on either side of the stem. Its lower leaves are small and petiole, and the upper leaves are long (6-10cm). The stalk of the plant reaches a height of twelve (12) to eighteen (18) inches as its fruit, the black seed, matures.
Nigella sativa reproduces with itself and forms a fruit capsule which consists of many white triagonal seeds. Once the fruit capsule has matured, it opens up and the seeds contained within are exposed to the air, becoming black in color (black seeds).
History of Black Seed
The earliest written reference to black seed is found in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. Isaiah contrasts the reaping of black cumin with wheat: For the black cumin is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over the cumin, but the black cumin is beaten out with a stick, and the cumin with a rod. (Isaiah 28:25,27 NKJV).
Nigella sativa has a long history of healing human-kind, a reference to its value above wheat is found in the Old Testament, Book of Isaiah. For thousands of years the seed and its oil have been used for health conditions ranging from asthma and allergies to wounds and worms.
Black seed has been traditionally and successfully used in the Middle and Far East countries for centuries to treat ailments including:
- Bronchial Asthma and Bronchitis.
- Rheumatism, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and various other inflammatory diseases.
- Treat digestive disturbances, and fight parasitic infestation.
- Support the body's immune system.
- Increase milk production in nursing mothers.
The many nutritional and healing properties contained in the seed can help build the body's immune system over time, supplying it with the optimum resources it needs to help prevent and fight illness.
Primary Properties of Black Seed
The five major components that are found in Black Seed are:
- Nigellin and Melanthin - promotes intestinal cleansing.
- Sterols - Supports secretion throughout the body.
- Nigellone and Thymoquinone - These two volatile oils have anti-spasmodic and broncho-dialating properties. Additionally, they work as an antihistamine.
- Essential Fatty Acids - Rich in supply of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They regulate metabolism, carry toxins to the skin for elimination, balance insulin levels, regulate cholesterol, improve blood circulation and help liver functions.
- Prostglandin - Produces E1 that regulates hormone secretion and lowers blood pressure.
Nutritional Value of Black Seed:
Black seed is rich in nutritional values
- Monosaccharides (single molecule sugars) in the form of glucose, rhamnose, xylose, and arabinose are found in the black seed.
- The black seed contains a non-starch polysaccharide component which is a useful source of dietary fiber.
- It is rich in fatty acids, particularly the unsaturated and essential fatty acids (Linoleic and Linoleic acid).
- Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the body alone, and therefore we acquire these from food.
- Fifteen amino acids make up the protein content of the black seed, including eight of the nine essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be synthesized within our body in sufficient quantities and are thus required from our diet.
- Black seed contains Arginine which is essential for infant growth.
- Chemical analysis has further revealed that the black seed contains carotene, which is converted by the liver into vitamin A, the vitamin known for its anti-cancer activity.
- The black seed is also a source of calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium. Required only in small amounts by the body, these elements' main function is to act as essential cofactors in various enzyme functions.
Black Seed Uses
Black seed (Nigella sativa) has been used as a natural remedy in the Middle and Far East for more than 2000 years. Black seed provides nutritional support for the body's defense system.
Black seed, in its complete, natural form, acts on the principle of assisting the body's own natural healing process in overcoming illness or maintaining health. It works on the part or system of the body affected without disturbing its natural balance elsewhere.
The effect of black seed's combined nutritional and medicinal value is that not only does it help relieve the current condition at hand, but also helps the body build further resistance against future ailments or disease.
Black Seeds are Anti-Bacterial
Black Seed (Nigella sativa) and Immune System
Immune System Strengthening:
Studies begun just over a decade ago suggest that if used on an ongoing basis, black seed can play an important role to enhance human immunity, particularly in immuno-compromised patients.
Black Seed (Nigella sativa) and Diabetes
Black seeds are high in essential fatty acids - Polyunsaturated fatty acids regulate metabolism, carry toxins to the skin for elimination, balance insulin levels, regulate cholesterol, improve blood circulation and help liver functions.
Researchers are currently evaluating the benefits of black seed oil and the treatment of type II diabetes for two main reasons.
Reason one (1): To ensure that patients who use these alternative medicines are not at risk of detrimental side effects.
Reason two (2): To evaluate the effectiveness of alternative remedies, since available pharmaceutical options are limited, have unwanted side effects and are ineffective in the long term.
Research on the benefits of black seed oil is considered preliminary, as studies are being done, but the results are promising. Black seed seems to help inhibit the absorption of glucose in the intestines and improve glucose tolerance in laboratory animals, according to a study published in the January 2009 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology.” Another study in a 2009 issue of the “Bangladesh Journal of Pharmacology,” reveals that crude Nigella sativa extracts reduce damage to beta cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for the production of insulin. This might lower the risk of type 1 diabetes, the study says. An article in the April 2011 issue of the “Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism,” reaffirms that thymoquinone found in black seeds can prevent the development of type 1 diabetes and increase the insulin sensitivity of liver cells, which helps prevent type 2 diabetes. Black seed extracts also possess significant antioxidant activity and might protect the pancreatic cells against the harmful effects of free-radicals, the study says.
Click here to view current research and review the FDA Patents on black seed oil and diabetes.
Black Seed (Nigella sativa) and Lungs
Black seeds contain Nigellone and Thymoquinone. These two volatile oils have anti-spasmodic and bronchi-dialating properties. Additionally, they work as an antihistamine.
Histamine is a substance released by bodily tissues, sometimes creating allergic reactions and is associated with conditions such as bronchial asthma.
In 1993, Nirmal Chakravarty, M.D., conducted a study to see if this delay could be attributed to the possibility of crystalline nigellone being an inhibitory agent on histamine. His hypothesis proved correct. Dr. Chakravarty's study found that the actual mechanism behind the suppressive effect of crystalline nigellone on histamine is that crystalline nigellone inhibits protein kinase C, a substance known to trigger the release of histamine.
In addition, his study showed that crystalline nigellone decreased the uptake of calcium in mast cells, which also inhibits histamine release. The importance of these results are that people who suffer from bronchial asthma and other allergic diseases may benefit from taking crystalline nigellone. Black seed oil helps to fight allergies. It works like any other allergy medicine to reduce such symptoms sufferers are experiencing. It clears congestion, reduces swelling and combats irritation. Taking black seed oil in small amounts (about half a teaspoon) twice a day can work wonders for a person’s allergies.
The antihistamine combined with the antibacterial properties of the oil, help combat coughs too. Both properties relieve tension in the lungs by relaxing the muscles, and fights the bacteria that may be developing. The oil can be taken daily whenever one is affected to not only reduce the symptoms, but fight the core problem. For a cough, you can either ingest the oil straight, drink it with some hot tea, or rub it into your chest. Black seed oil, as an asthma remedy, should be inhaled in the steam of boiling water.
And for those suffering from the flu, black seed oil can work wonders to provide healing. Fevers can be brought down and broken by simply ingesting the oil. Flu symptoms are decreased through all the properties of black seed oil. It also fights pollutants in the body and help to cleanse it of toxins. The colling effect will make a sufferer feel a great deal better during their sickness. Whenever flu symptoms arise, simply taking a teaspoon of the oil can heal and soothe.
Black Seed (Nigella sativa) and Stomach Problems
Black seeds contain Nigellin and Melanthin, both of which promotes intestinal cleansing.
In 1989, a report appeared in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmacy about anti-fungal properties of the volatile oil of black seed. 1992 saw researchers at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, conducting a study in which the antibacterial activity of the volatile oil of black seed was compared with five antibiotics: ampicillin, tetracycline, cotrimoxazole, gentamicin, and nalidixic acid.
DISCLAIMER: The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
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Tariq M, Khan HA, Elfaki I, Arshaduddin M, Al Moutaery M, Al Rayes H, et al. Gastric antisecretory and antiulcer effects of simvastatin in rats. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007;22:2316–23.
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