Black seed is a plant. People have used the seed to make medicine for over 2000 years. It was even discovered in the tomb of King Tut.
Historically, black seed has been used for headache, toothache, nasal congestion, and intestinal worms. It has also been used for “pink eye” (conjunctivitis), pockets of infection (abscesses), and parasites.
Today, black seed is used for treating digestive tract conditions including gas, colic, diarrhea, dysentery, constipation, and hemorrhoids. It is also used for respiratory conditions including asthma, allergies, cough, bronchitis, emphysema, flu, swine flu, and congestion.
Other uses include lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, treating cancer, and boosting the immune system. You may read that a patent has been issued to cover the use of black seed to improve immunity, but don’t be misled. The presence of a patent doesn’t mean black seed has been shown to be effective for this use.
In foods, black seed is used as a flavoring or spice.
How does it work?
There is some scientific evidence to suggest that black seed might help boost the immune system, fight cancer, prevent pregnancy, and lessen allergic reactions by acting as an antihistamine, but there isn't enough information in humans yet.
BLACK SEED USES & EFFECTIVENESS
Possibly Effective for:
- Asthma. Research suggests that taking black seed extract by mouth improves coughing, wheezing, and lung function in people with asthma. However, black seed may not be as effective as the drugs theophylline or salbutamol.
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing black seed oil, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and biotin (Immerfit by Phyt-Immun) by mouth daily might improve allergy symptoms in people with hay fever.
- Itchy and inflamed skin (eczema). Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing black seed oil, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and biotin (Immerfit by Phyt-Immun) by mouth daily might improve symptoms in people with itchy and inflamed skin. However, applying 15% black seed oil ointment to the skin for 4 weeks does not appear to improve itching or disease severity in similar patients.
- Seizures (epilepsy). Early research suggests that taking black seed extract by mouth every eight hours for 4 weeks might reduce the number of seizures in children with epilepsy.
- High cholesterol. Evidence regarding the effectiveness of black seed for high cholesterol is conflicting. Some early research suggests that taking whole crushed black seed 1 gram twice daily before meals for 4 weeks reduces cholesterol, “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood fats called triglycerides in people with high cholesterol. However, other research shows that taking powdered black seed 1 gram twice daily for 6 weeks does not improve cholesterol.
- High blood pressure. Early research suggests that taking black seed extract twice daily for 8 weeks might slightly improve blood pressure in some people.
- Metabolic syndrome. Early research suggests that taking a specific black seed oil product twice daily for 6 weeks might reduce total cholesterol, “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood sugar levels in people with metabolic syndrome.
- Relieving symptoms related to narcotic drug withdrawal (opiate withdrawal). Early research suggests that taking black seed extract by mouth three times daily for 12 days might reduce symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
- Sore throat and swollen tonsils (tonsillopharyngitis). Early research suggests that taking a combination of chanca piedra and black seed by mouth for 7 days relieves pain in people with sore throat and swollen tonsils.
- Digestive problems including intestinal gas and diarrhea.
- Boosting the immune system.
- Cancer prevention.
- Birth control.
- Menstrual disorders.
- Increasing breast-milk flow.
- Achy joints (rheumatism).
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of black seed for these uses.
BLACK SEED SIDE EFFECTS & SAFETY
Black seed, when taken by mouth in small quantities, such as a flavoring for foods, is LIKELY SAFE for most people. Black seed oil and black seed extract are POSSIBLY SAFE when medical amounts are used short-term. There isn't enough information to know if larger, medicinal quantities are safe. Black seed can cause allergic rashes when applied to the skin.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Black seed seems to be safe in food amounts during pregnancy. But taking larger medicinal amounts is LIKELY UNSAFE. Black seed can slow down or stop the uterus from contracting.
Not much is known about the safety of using black seed during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Children: Black seed oil is POSSIBLY SAFE for children when taken by mouth short-term and in recommended amounts.
Bleeding disorders: Black seed might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. In theory, black seed might make bleeding disorders worse.
Diabetes: Black seed might lower blood sugar levels in some people. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use black seed.
Low blood pressure: Black seed might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking black seed might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.
Surgery: Black seed might slow blood clotting, reduce blood sugar, and increase sleepiness in some people. In theory, black seed might increase the risk for bleeding and interfere with blood sugar control and anesthesia during and after surgical procedures. Stop using black seed at least two weeks before a scheduledsurgery.
BLACK SEED DOSING
The appropriate dose of black seed depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for black seed. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.