Miracle seeds, magical herbs, superfoods, and healing potions. Many products on the market are labeled as such simply for marketing purposes. The promise of a certain positive effect or quick solution for your problem helps to sell, and unfortunately, we often fall for these tricks and gimmicks. There are a few plants that truly have health benefits, healing properties, and are called superfoods for a reason. Many of these natural remedies were used by ancient civilizations for centuries, but with time, modern medicine and man-made remedies have taken their place. Nigella Sativa, sometimes called Black Seed, Black Coriander, Black Cumin, kalonji seeds, or haba al-barakah (in Arabic) is one of these wonders of nature. Oil extracted from these small, crescent-shaped black seeds has a surprising amount of health benefits and it has been heavily studied because of its active compounds like thymoquinone or crystalline nigellone. It also contains some important minerals and fatty acids that really make black seed oil one of my personal favorites for skincare, hair treatment, and supporting immunity.
Black seeds contain over 100 chemical compounds and some of the ingredients are yet to be discovered and identified. They contain plenty of protein (27%) and a lot of healthy fat (29%) along with a good dose of fiber, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, iron, and copper. The list of black seed oil benefits is quite long: it is analgesic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, helps to stabilize blood sugar, it is diuretic, helps with blood pressure regulation, cramps, and parasites, and protects the liver, kidneys, and stomach. Black seed oil supports the building of healthy cells, while blocking the growth of abnormal cells, lowers the inflammatory response, and supports the immune system, including a reduction in allergic symptoms/reactions and respiratory symptoms. It also supports healthy digestion, and even supports lactation in breastfeeding women. This in-vitro study showed that the nigellone compound inhibits the release of histamine, this study focused on suppressing loose bowel reactions, and another trial studied histamine release in rats with damaged gut lining. There also has been an extensive study performed with patients who suffer from allergic rhinitis, bronchial asthma, and atopic eczema. This study showed that patients who ingested any form of Nigella Sativa oil (bottled oil or capsules) reported significant improvements in their symptoms. Additional asthma and allergy related studies can be found here, here and here.
Black seed oil is very effective when used topically on skin or hair. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, who was famous for her beauty, used black seed oil to nourish both her skin and hair. Black seed oil is still perfect for healing dry skin, dry patches, and flaky skin. It helps to relieve symptoms of psoriasis, an autoimmune skin disease that manifests itself through dry, itchy patches; it helps to regulate immune cells and enhances our ability to deal with abnormal cell reproduction (which causes dry skin buildup on the top of the epidermis). There is a study showing that Nigella sativa does have skin healing properties. I also recently used it with success to speed up the skin healing of pityriasis rosea, a benign but annoying skin problem that looks and acts like psoriasis on the outside but is not an autoimmune condition.
Black seed oil is also very helpful for acne-prone skin, due to the fact that it helps with skin regeneration, and it has powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Whether your skin is damaged, or you suffer from acne or an allergy induced condition, adding black seed oil to your skincare regime will help, without the side-effects some other topical remedies might have (unlike the steroid creams that are often prescribed for inflammatory skin problems). Adding some black seed oil into your haircare routine can help to stimulate hair growth. Try massaging 1-2 tablespoons of the oil onto your scalp for 15 minutes and rinse well. And there is more to Black Cumin! More studies have shown that it helps with glucose metabolism, has strong anti-oxidant properties, helps fight against H. pylori, prevents uncontrolled cell replication, helps with fungus and yeast , improves sperm quality in men, helps regulate blood pressure, improves memory and learning skills, improves attention and cognition, helps with mood stability and lowers cholesterol. Thymoquinone in the seeds also has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system.
The antioxidants, fatty acids, and b-vitamins in black seeds support immune health, they increase the immune function and suppress the reactions of the immune system against the body (autoimmunity). Black seed oil can also be used for oil pulling, because of all the health benefits it has. Black seed oil absorbs very quickly into the skin, doesn’t leave a greasy film behind, but it does have a significant, nutty aroma, similar to hemp oil. The scent is not unpleasant and it doesn’t really linger on the skin. Nigella sativa oil can be either used topically or ingested; to receive the most benefit, feel free to use it in both ways. I recommend black seed oil for oil cleansing and even in place of moisturizer for dry skin. In winter, when our skin is more dry, this oil is perfect to use on the areas that tend to be the most dry – elbows, knees, hands, and the face.
Black seed oil doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but just like every other seed oil, it tends to oxidize in direct sunlight. Buy the best quality possible, in a dark glass bottle, and preferably in smaller quantities (unless you plan on buying in bulk and sharing with more people). Always reach for organic, non-GMO, pure cold pressed oil, with no additives. The quality matters, just as it does with food you put on your plate. Panaseeda Black Cumin oil by Activation Products is the best option on the market that meets all of these criteria. To create the finest products, all of the oils made by Activation Products are primarily from European sources, no genetically modified plants are used, and they use a precise pressing technology along with the highest quality Miron glass bottles to make sure the finished product retains all of it’s goodness and is safe and stable (without the rancidity common in seed oils). There have been hundreds of different studies performed on Nigella Sativa, there are plenty of articles online, like this one by Wellness Mama or this one from PaleoHacks. Also, check out this interview with Martin and Scott, along with Ian Clark from Activation Products as a special guest, so you can learn more about seed oils in general and the importance of looking for the best quality product and packaging possible.