What are the Potential Health Benefits of Black Seed Oil?

Published May 3rd, 2022 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Erik Rivera

Black seed is the seeds of the Nigella sativa plant, which is a small plant that grows in Asia, the Middle East, Southern Europe, and Northern Africa, and has been used as a natural remedy in alternative medicine for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions.

Black seed oil extract is made from the black seeds of the plant and it is a thick, amber liquid that has a slightly bitter taste and a peppery smell.

In this article, we will explore the potential health benefits of this oil, any side effects that you may experience when you take it, and proper dosing information for it.

What is black seed oil?

Black seed oil is a Nigella sativa seed extract, which is the scientific name for the plant that produces black seed.

The black seed plant is native to southwestern Asia and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine.

It is thought to provide a number of health benefits which we will detail below.

black seed oil image

What are the other names for black seed?

Black seed also has a number of other names that it is known by, including:

  • Black cumin
  • Black caraway
  • Nigella
  • Fennel flower
  • Roman coriander
  • Nutmeg flower
  • Kalonji

All of these names refer to the seed from the Nigella sativa plant which produces black seed and it is also called Nigella sativa L. in some studies.

What are the health benefits of black seed oil?

There is a wide range of purported benefits of using black seed oil and most of these benefits are anecdotal and have not been backed by scientific research.

Some of the potential benefits of black seed oil include:

Helping with skin conditions

One of the benefits of black seed oil that has been backed by some scientific research is its ability to help with certain skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, and dry skin.

It is believed to help due to its antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Due to its antifungal properties, black seed oil has been shown to help prevent Candida albicans, which is a type of yeast that can cause a yeast infection on your skin.

Helping your hair

Another potential benefit of black seed oil is that it may help improve the health of your hair by hydrating it and treating dandruff. Currently, there are no clinical studies to support these claims.

Providing antioxidants

Black seed oil is also thought to be a good source of antioxidants, which are important for helping to protect your cells from damage from free radicals and it is a great source of thymoquinone, which is a type of antioxidant.

Black seed oil is thought to have a high antioxidant capacity, which is its ability to remove free radicals from your body.

Antioxidants help to reduce inflammation and are thought to be anticancer and help treat certain forms of cancer.

Treating asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that constricts your airways and black seed oil may help to treat asthma by reducing lung inflammation.

Some studies show that thymoquinone may be the reason for this as it helps to relax your muscles and help you breathe easier which helps in the treatment of asthma.

More research is necessary though to prove that black seed oil can help with asthma control. Another clinical trial also showed that black seed oil may also help with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which is a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult for you to breathe.

Research show that with black seed oil the patients performed better on pulmonary function tests, which are simply lung function tests.

Protecting your brain

Thymoquinone may help to protect your brain from damage and improve cognitive function, including your memory.

One study showed that black seed oil was able to reduce the amount of beta-amyloid plaques, which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

It is also thought to help with Parkinson's disease too.

Helping with weight loss

One study showed that black seed oil was able to help reduce body weight, waist circumference, and hip circumference in obese women.

Researchers are uncertain of why this happened and more studies are needed for black seed's weight-loss ability to be fully understood.

Lowering blood sugar levels

Managing your blood sugar levels is particularly important if you have diabetes to avoid complications such as eye damage, kidney damage, and stroke.

Studies of both black seed capsules and black seed oils have shown promising results in glycemic control, which is a term for having normal blood sugar levels.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, and inflammation in your joints.

Black seed oil may help to reduce these symptoms by reducing inflammation.

Male infertility

Sperm quality is important if you are trying to get your partner pregnant and black seed oil has been shown to help improve it.

In one study, black seed oil was able to increase sperm count and motility which may help with pregnancy.

Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

Black seed oil may help to lower your blood pressure if you have mild hypertension by reducing the amount of LDL cholesterol, as shown by a study using people who are obese and others with type 2 diabetes.

Another study also showed its ability to lower your cholesterol level when the results were analyzed against a placebo.

Hay fever

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a condition that causes inflammation in your nose and airways and is caused by seasonal allergies.

Black seed oil may help to reduce the symptoms of hay fever by reducing inflammation.

Are the health benefits of black seed oil backed by scientific research?

Black seed oil has been used in alternative medicine for centuries but not enough research has been conducted to definitively state that it is beneficial for the above purposes.

As seen above, there are many studies and clinical trials that have been done on black seeds and black seed oil; however, more research is needed on humans with large sample sizes as some may have been an animal study while others may not have had a large enough sample size.

Until then, all benefits of black seed oil are considered anecdotal.

Are there any side effects to using black seed oil?

Black seed oil is considered safe when taken by mouth in food or when used topically on the skin in small amounts.

No research has been done on using black seeds or black seed oil in large amounts over long periods of time so you need to exhibit caution when using it.

One adverse effect is that black seed oil can also cause a rash if you are allergic to it and use it topically.

It’s important to note that black seed oil can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, as black seed oil may thin your blood and have adverse effects on blood clotting, and diabetes medication.

Please consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before using black seeds or black seed oil in supplements or as a topical oil.

Can everyone use black seed oil?

Black seed oil is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as there is not enough research to determine if it is safe for them to take.

It is also not recommended for children, as there is also a lack of research on its safety for them.

If you have any medical conditions, please consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking black seed oil.

How do you use black seed oil?

Besides black seeds being consumed when used for cooking, black seed and black seed oil can be used in a couple of different ways.

If you are thinking of taking a black seed oil supplement, there are several options available to you as it can be ingested in the form of black seed oil capsules or as a liquid form by taking the oil itself although you may want to dilute the oil with honey or juice due to its flavor. It can also be used topically on the skin and hair.

There is also a black seed powder that is now available and can be mixed into water or other drinks.

To ensure quality when buying any natural product, read the labels and look to make sure the product was tested by a third-party company as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements.

What is the dosage for black seed oil?

There is no recommended dosage for black seed oil as more research needs to be done on its effects and side effects.

It’s always best to start with a small amount and increase gradually as needed.

Also, consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking black seed oil, especially if you have any medical conditions or take any medications.

Summary

Black seed oil is made from the black seeds of the Nigella sativa plant and has been used in alternative medicine for centuries.

Although more research is needed, black seed oil shows promise in the treatment of various conditions such as hay fever, high blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol as well as many others.

Black seed oil is considered safe when taken orally or applied topically to the skin in small amounts; however, there are some potential side effects and drug interactions to be aware of and no research has been conducted using black seed oil in large amounts.

If you have any more questions or are thinking of using black seed oil, please consult with your doctor or health care provider first.

References and Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3642442/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963996915000459

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/black-seed-oil-benefits

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