Many of us love those little black cumin seeds that are sprinkled on top of buns and breads we buy from bakeries. They’re flavorful and aromatic. But there’s much more to these little black seeds. They’re the source of black seed oil, oil that has been in use for more than 2000 years for various ailments.
Native to the Mediterranean, Asia and North Africa, Nigella sativa is the little bush that produces the fruits from which black seeds are sourced. The black seeds are cold pressed to produce black seed oil. The popularity of this oil has increased in recent years as scientific studies continue to reveal many of its potential benefits. Here’s a look at some of these benefits.
- Helps reduce blood pressure: Various studies have shown that taking a small amount of black seed oil over time resulted in a reduction in blood pressure. However, scientists still don’t understand exactly how black seed oil helps to improve blood pressure levels. Black seed oil is rich in thymoquinone. Scientists believe that this bioactive compound could be the reason for improvements in blood pressure levels.
- Aids weight loss: Some people use black seed oil for weight loss. This is based on studies that revealed weight loss while taking black seed oil in individuals with type 2 diabetes and obesity. A more recent review revealed that people that took black seed oil as a supplement saw an average weight loss of about 4.4 pounds.
- Helps lower cholesterol: Black seed oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are known to boost the production of good cholesterol (high density lipoprotein – HDL) in the body. A 2015 study showed a reduction in bad cholesterol (Low Density Lipoprotein – LDL) in obese women who took black seed oil every day while on a 12 week low-calorie diet. This was in comparison to obese women who took a placebo while on the same diet for the same period.
- Helps keeps the skin moisturized: Many people also use black seed oil for skin. When the oil is applied topically it is believed to keep the skin moisturized. The oil shows great potential for people with eczema. A 2013 study revealed that participants that applied black seed oil topically twice a day over a period of four weeks experienced a reduction in the severity of their eczema. The study showed that the results of applying black seed oil were comparable to applying a topical steroid.
- Helps reduce skin inflammation: Black seed oil is also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. A 2010 study showed that application of a lotion consisting of 20 percent black seed oil helped to reduce the appearance of acne lesions. Those in the study that used black seed oil also suffered fewer side effects.
- Stimulates hair growth: If you’re looking for something to help with hair loss, you may want to consider black seed oil. While there is no conclusive study to support this claim, the results of a small 2014 study showed that consistent use of black seed oil encouraged growth of hair in participants. Researchers believe this is because of an increase in fatty acids and proteins. The oil also helped to boost blood circulation to the scalp.
- Help improve respiratory health: Black seed oil is believed to aid respiratory health. Researchers believe that it shows potential for managing respiratory problems due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The oil was shown to help reduce inflammation in the airway thus helping to manage asthma. Its antioxidant properties also contributed to a reduction in inflammation in the airway.
- Improve fertility: Black seed oil may have a positive impact on fertility. A 2014 study showed an improvement in sperm count in infertile men who took 2.5ml of the oil daily over a period of two months. The results showed an improvement in sperm count as well as sperm motility.
Studies on black seed oil continue to reveal many potential health benefits of the oil. If you’re thinking of incorporating it into your daily routine, talk to your doctor to determine the right dosage for your needs.