Black Seed: “Seed of Blessing”
By The Institute of Tibb Medicine,
Johannesburg, South Africa
A seed few people in the U.S. have heard of has a fascinating history and is used by a large portion of the world’s population. References to this seed can be found in some of the oldest religious and medical texts. It is called Black Seed. Black Seed (Nigella sativa) is a tiny seed from an herbaceous annual, which reaches a height of twelve to eighteen inches. It is believed to be indigenous to the Mediterranean but is cultivated in other parts of the world including North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. The common English name for Nigella sativa is Love in a Mist. It is also called Black Cumin.
History of Black Seed
Black Seed was discovered in the tomb of the legendary Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen, implying that it played an important role in ancient Egyptian practices. Although its exact role in Egyptian culture is not known, we do know that items entombed with a king were carefully selected to assist him in the afterlife. The earliest written reference to black seed is found in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament: (Isaiah 28:25,27 NKJV).
Traditionally Black Seed has been used for a variety of ailments
including bronchitis, asthma, rheumatism and related inflammatory
conditions, increasing milk production in nursing mothers, digestive
eliminative disturbances, parasite infection and supporting immunity.
Its oil is used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and boils and
used topically to treat cold symptoms. The classic text Medicines of
Prophet lists as many as fifty illnesses for which Black Seed has
effective healing qualities.
Because of its complex chemical structure — it has over one hundred
active ingredients — black cumin has positive effects on the
respiratory, immune, circulatory, digestive, and urinary systems. It is
potentially effective against asthma, stomach ailments, and numerous
skin conditions, ranging from acne to psoriasis. Its many uses has
earned it the popular title “Seed of Blessing”.
Over 150 research papers on Black Seed have been published in recent times confirming many of the healing properties traditionally attributed to Black Seed.
In 1987, a study conducted at I.I.M.E.R. Panama City, Florida verified
the immune-supporting action of Black Seed. Two randomized groups of
volunteers received one-gram of Black Seed capsules twice daily or a
placebo. A complete lymphocyte count carried out before and after four
weeks of administration revealed that the majority of subjects who took
Black Seed displayed a 72% increase in helper-to-suppressor T-cell
as well as an increase in NK (natural killer) cell functional activity.
In the field of AIDS research, human clinical trials conducted at the
Department of Biological and Medical Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi
Arabia (1997) showed that Black Seed enhanced the ratio between helper
T-cell by 55% with a 30% enhancement of NK cell activity. These
suggest that Black Seed could play an important role in the treatment
cancer, AIDS, and other immune deficiency states.
In 1997 a study undertaken on the anti-cancer activity of the Black
undertaken at the International Immuno-Biology Research Laboratory,
South Carolina concluded, “the activity of NS (Black Seed) blocked the
tumor growth and dissemination in metastasis and have remarkable
promises for clinical use.”
Histamine is a substance released by body tissues, which often causes allergic reactions and is associated with conditions such as bronchial asthma. In 1960, scientists discovered that a substance called Nigellone (dimer dithymoquinone) isolated from Black Seed’s volatile oil suppressed asthma symptoms in a majority of patients when given orally.
As early as 1960, it was reported that Black Seed oil has an
anti-inflammatory effect and that it could be useful for relieving
arthritis pain. Following up on these claims, a group of scientists
Kings College, Department of Pharmacy, London, decided to test Black
Seed oil and its derivative thymoquinone as an anti-inflammatory agent.
It was discovered that the agents possessed anti-oxidant activity and
inhibited eicosanoid generation in cells. Certain eicosanoids (short
lived local tissue hormones) are responsible for the inflammatory
response whereas anti-oxidants help to slow cartilage degeneration.
The inhibitory effect on eicosanoid generation, however, was higher
could be expected from thymoquinone alone. This suggests that other
compounds in the oil might be responsible for the enhanced
anti-inflammatory reactions in cells. Researchers concluded that
pharmacological properties of Black Seed and its derived products
support the traditional use of Black Seed as a treatment for rheumatism
and related inflammatory diseases.
In Europe ongoing scientific research has fueled immense public
into the health benefits of using Black Seed, particularly in Austria
and Germany, where Black Seed supplements are sold in most health
and it is popularly regarded as an effective alternative medicine. It
also has been the subject of intensive scientific research indicating
that it strengthens and stabilizes the immune system and is greatly
beneficial in the treatment of allergies. It has been found to be
beneficial in the treatment of impotence when the causes are primarily
It seems Black Seed can be helpful for just about anything. However its
use is not recommended during pregnancy. While much still remains to
investigated, studies conducted thus far, confirm Black Seed as a
Suggestions for using Black Seed
Black Seed is available as pure oil and capsules. Either form may be taken preventively and for immune support. For arthritis, swallow capsules; apply pure oil to affected area.
For respiratory problems, dilute oil (1 part Black Seed oil to 5 parts
olive oil), rub on chest and back; heat some oil and inhale the vapors.
For head cold, rub forehead and sides of face close to the ears with
Black Seed oil.
As an energy tonic, take the oil in orange juice in the morning. In
spite of it being used for energy, Black Seed also relieves insomnia.
For sleep disturbances, take one teaspoon of Black Seed oil and one
teaspoon of honey in warm milk. Rub the temp-les with the oil and turn
of the lights.
Whole seeds can be found in many Indian and Persian markets and can be
used in baked goods and pickles. Crush the seeds to use in beverages,
curries or as a pepper substitute.
Until recently not many people knew of Ginseng. Now, the name is
practically a household word. Will Americans discover Black Seed and
accept it as an invaluable health tonic? Historical records and modern
scientific research cannot be discounted.
For more information, visit your health store retailer or check out www.blackseedusa.com
. Books on Black Seed: Healing Power of Black Cumin
by Sylvia Luetjohann (Lotus Light 1998) and Black Cumin: The Magical
Egyptian Herb for Allergies, Asthma, Skin Conditions and Immune
Disorders by Dr. M. Saleh (Egypt) and P. Schleicher (Germany). (Inner
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