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Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil is extracted from the seeds of Nigella sativa, a plant native to southwest Asia. It is used by some for the treatment of asthma, diabetes, hypertension, weight loss, and other conditions. One of its key components is thymoquinone, a compound with antioxidant properties. There is scientific evidence to support some, but not all uses for black seed oil.
Black seed oil has a long history of use dating back over 2000 years. In fact, according to some sources, it was discovered in the tomb of King Tut. The oil is sold by supplement retailers for topical use and in capsule form for oral consumption. Nigella sativa seeds are sometimes used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, and have a slightly bitter taste.
Black Seed Oil Uses
Although research on the health effects of black seed oil is fairly limited, there’s some evidence that it may offer certain potential benefits. Here’s a look at several key findings from available studies.
Black seed oil may aid in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a small study published in Immunological Investigations in 2016.1
For the study, 43 women with mild-to-moderate rheumatoid arthritis took black seed oil capsules or a placebo every day for one month. Treatment with black seed oil led to a reduction in arthritis symptoms (as assessed by a clinical rating scale), blood levels of inflammatory markers, and the number of swollen joints.
Black seed oil shows promise in the treatment of allergies. In a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology, for instance, black seed oil was found to reduce the presence of nasal congestion and itching, runny nose, and sneezing after two weeks.
Another report published in 2018 analyzed data to determine if black seed oil could help in the treatment of sinusitis. Study authors concluded that the oil has therapeutic potential in the treatment of the condition due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antihistaminic, immune-modulator, antimicrobial, and analgesic effects.
Black seed oil may be of some benefit to people with diabetes, according to a review published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2015.2
Researchers analyzed previously published studies on the use of Nigella sativa for diabetes and concluded that it could improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels in diabetes models but noted that clinical trials are necessary to clarify the effects.
Another research review published in 2017 confirmed these findings.
Preliminary research suggests that black seed oil may offer benefits to people with asthma.
For example, a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2017 found that people with asthma who took black seed oil capsules had a significant improvement in asthma control compared with those who took a placebo.3
Black seed oil may reduce risk factors in women who are obese, according to a study.4
For the study, women consumed Nigella sativa oil or a placebo while following a low-calorie diet for eight weeks. At the study’s end, weight, waist circumference, and triglyceride levels had decreased by more in the group that took the Nigella sativa oil.
Another eight-week study combined the use of aerobic exercise with black seed oil supplementation in a trial with overweight sedentary women. Researchers found that this treatment combination provided benefits including lower cholesterol levels.
Black seed oil is also used as a remedy for conditions such as allergies, asthma, diabetes, headaches, high blood pressure, and digestive disorders.5
In addition, black seed oil is said to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and fight infections.
The oil is used topically for skin and hair concerns, such as acne, dry hair, psoriasis, hair growth, and dry skin.6