Black seed (Nigella sativa) is an annual flowering plant from Ranunculaceae family, native to southwest Asia. This plant has many food and medicinal uses. The use of its seeds and oil is common for treatment of many diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and digestive diseases. The purpose of this study was to provide a comprehensive review of the scientific reports that have been published about N. sativa. It showed therapeutic potential in the treatment of sinusitis by its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antihistaminic, immune-modulator, antimicrobial, and analgesic effects. The use of N. sativa seed fixed oil can inhibit the inflammation of sinuses and respiratory airways, microbial infections and finally help the patients suffering from clinical symptoms of sinusitis such as coryza, nasal congestion, headache, neck pain, earache and toothache. Clinical studies are required to evaluate its efficacy in patients with sinusitis in the future.
Nutritional Value of Black Seed
|Nutrient||Unit||Value per 100 g||tsp, whole 2.1 g||tbsp, whole 6 g|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||22.27||0.47||1.34|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||44.24||0.93||2.65|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||10.5||0.2||0.6|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||7.7||0.2||0.5|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||64||1||4|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||1270||27||76|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||3.33||0.07||0.20|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||µg||0.0||0.0||0.0|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||µg||5.4||0.1||0.3|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||1.535||0.032||0.092|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||14.040||0.295||0.842|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||3.279||0.069||0.197|
Health Benefits of Black Seed
- Blood Cancer – El-Mahdy et al. (2005) reported that TQ exhibits an anti-proliferative effect in human myeloblastic leukemia HL-60 cells. Derivatives of TQ bearing terpene-terminated 6-alkyl residues were tested in HL-60 cells and 518A2 melanoma by Effenberger et al. (2010). They found the derivatives induce apoptosis associated with DNA laddering, a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and a slight increase in reactive oxygen species. Swamy and Huat (2003) observed that α-hederin also induced death of murine leukemia P388 cells by a dose- and time-dependent increase in apoptosis.
- Breast Cancer – Aqueous and alcohol extracts of N. sativa were found to be effective in vitro in inactivating MCF-7 breast cancer cells (Farah and Begum, 2003). N. sativa, in combination with melatonin and retinoic acid reduced the carcinogenic effects of DMBA (7, 12-di-methylbenz(a)anthracene) in mammary carcinoma of rats (El-Aziz et al., 2005). Terpene-terminated 6-alkyl residues of TQ were tested in MCF-7/Topo breast carcinoma by Effenberger et al. (2010). They found the derivatives inducing cell death by apoptosis.
- Colon Cancer – Gali-Muhtasib et al. (2004) suggested that TQ is anti-neoplastic and pro-apoptotic against colon cancer cell line HCT116. Salim and Fukushima (2003) demonstrated that the volatile oil of N. sativa has the ability to inhibit colon carcinogenesis of rats in the post-initiation stage, with no evident adverse side effects. Norwood et al. (2006) suggested TQ as chemotherapeutic agent on SW-626 colon cancer cells, in potency, which is similar to 5-flurouracil in action. However, on HT-29 (colon adenocarcinoma) cell, no effect of TQ was found (Rooney and Ryan, 2005).
- Pancreatic Cancer – Chehl et al. (2009) showed that TQ, the major constituent of N. sativa oil extract, induced apoptosis and inhibited proliferation in PDA (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma) cells. They also suggested TQ as a novel inhibitor of pro-inflammatory pathways, which provides a promising strategy that combines anti-inflammatory and proapoptotic modes of action. TQ also can abrogate gemcitabine- or oxaliplatin-induced activation of NF-kappa B, resulting in the chemosensitization of pancreatic tumors to conventional therapeutics (Banerjee et al., 2009). The high molecular weight glycoprotein mucin 4 (MUC4) is aberrantly expressed in pancreatic cancer and contributes to the regulation of differentiation, proliferation, metastasis, and the chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer cells. Torres et al. (2010) evaluated the down-regulatory effect of TQ on MUC4 in pancreatic cancer cells. But in a study, Rooney and Ryan (2005) did not find any preventive role of TQ on MIA PaCa-2 (pancreas carcinoma) cells.
- Hepatic Cancer – The cytotoxic activity of N. sativa seed was tested on the human hepatoma HepG2 cell line by Thabrew et al. (2005), and 88% inhibitory effect on HepG2 was found after 24-hr incubation with different concentrations (0–50 mg/ml) of the N. sativa extract. Nagi and Almakki (2009) reported that oral administration of TQ is effective in increasing the activities of quinone reductase and glutathione transferase and makes TQ a promising prophylactic agent against chemical carcinogenesis and toxicity in hepatic cancer
- Lung Cancer – Swamy and Huat (2003) mentioned the antitumor activity of α-hederin from N. sativa against LL/2 (Lewis Lung carcinoma) in BDF1 mice. Also, Mabrouk et al. (2002) showed that supplementation of diet with honey and N. sativa has a protective effect against MNU (methylnitrosourea)-induced oxidative stress, inflammatory response and carcinogenesis in lung, skin and colon. However, Rooney and Ryan (2005)reported that α-hederin and TQ, the two principal bioactive constituents of N. sativa enhance neither cytotoxicity nor apoptosis in A549 (lung carcinoma), HEp-2 (larynx epidermoid carcinoma) cells.
- Skin cancer – Topical application of N. sativa extract inhibited two-stage initiation/promotion [dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)/croton oil] skin carcinogenesis in mice. Again, intraperitoneal administration of N. sativa (100 mg/kg body wt) 30 days after subcutaneous administration of MCA (20-methylcholanthrene) restricted soft tissue sarcomas to 33.3% compared with 100% in MCA-treated controls (Salomi et al., 1991).
- Fibrosarcoma – TQ from N. sativa was administrated (0.01% in drinking water) one week before and after MCA treatment significantly inhibited the tumor incidence (fibrosarcoma) and tumor burden by 43% and 34%, respectively, compared with the results in the group receiving MCA alone. Moreover, TQ delayed the onset of MCA-induced fibrosarcoma tumors. Also in vitro studies showed that TQ inhibited the survival of fibrosarcoma cells with IC50 of 15 mM (Badary and Gamal, 2001). Oil of N. sativa also decreased the fibrinolytic potential of the human fibrosarcoma cell line (HT1080) in vitro (Awad, 2005).
- Renal Cancer – Khan and Sultana (2005) reported the chemo-preventive effect of N. sativa against ferric nitrilotriacetate (Fe-NTA)-induced renal oxidative stress, hyper-proliferative response and renal carcinogenesis. Treatment of rats orally with N. sativa (50 100 mg/kg body wt) resulted in significant decrease in H2O2 generation, DNA synthesis and incidence of tumors.
- Prostate Cancer – TQ, from N. sativa, inhibited DNA synthesis, proliferation, and viability of cancerous (LNCaP, C4-B, DU145, and PC-3) but not non-cancerous (BPH-1) prostate epithelial cells by down-regulating AR (androgen receptor) and E2F-1 (a transcription factor) (Kaseb et al., 2007). In this study, they suggested TQ as effective in treating hormone-sensitive as well as hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Yi et al. (2008) found that TQ blocked angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo, prevented tumor angiogenesis in a xenograft human prostate cancer (PC3) model in mouse, and inhibited human prostate tumor growth at low dosage with almost no chemotoxic side effects. Furthermore, they observed that endothelial cells were more sensitive to TQ-induced cell apoptosis, cell proliferation, and migration inhibition compared with PC3 cancer cells. TQ also inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor-induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation but showed no inhibitory effects on vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 activation.
- Cervical Cancer – Shafi et al. (2009) reported that methanol, n-Hexane and chloroform extracts of N. sativa effectively killed HeLa (human epithelial cervical cancer) cells by inducing apoptosis. Effenberger et al. (2010) tested terpene-terminated 6-alkyl residues of TQ on multidrug-resistant KB-V1/Vb1 cervical carcinoma and found the derivatives inducing cell death by apoptosis.
- Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity – The aqueous extract of N. sativa was found to possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic but not antipyretic activities in animal models while the anti-inflammatory effect of the alcoholic extracts of N. sativa seeds and its callus on mix glial cells of rat with regard to their TQ content was investigated. The mix glial cells, inflamed by lipopolysaccharide, were subjected to anti-inflammatory studies in the presence of various amounts of TQ and the alcoholic extracts. Results confirmed that TQ content of the callus of the leaf was 12 times higher than that measured in the seeds extract. Studies on the inflamed rat mix glial cells revealed significant reduction in the nitric oxide production in the presence of 0.2 to 1.6 mg/mL of callus extract and 1.25 to 20 µL/mL of the seed extracts.
- Immunomodulatory activity – The potential immunomodulatory effects of N. sativa were investigated in light of splenocyte proliferation, macrophage function, and NK anti-tumor activity using BLAB/c and C57/BL6 primary cells. Results demonstrated that the aqueous extract of N. sativa significantly enhances splenocyte proliferation in a dose-responsive manner. In addition, the aqueous extract of N. sativa favors the secretion of Th2, versus Th1, cytokines by splenocytes. The secretion of IL-6, TNF-α, and NO; key pro-inflammatory mediators, by primary macrophages is significantly suppressed by the aqueous extract of N. sativa, indicating that N. sativa exerts anti-inflammatory effects in vitro. Finally, experimental evidence indicates that the aqueous extract of N. sativa significantly enhances NK cytotoxic activity against YAC-1 tumor cells, suggesting that the documented anti-tumor effects of N. sativa may be, at least in part, attributed to its ability to serve as a stimulant of NK anti-tumor activity. It was anticipated that N. sativa ingredients may be employed as effective therapeutic agents in the regulation of diverse immune reactions implicated in various conditions and diseases such as cancer.
- Gastro-protective activity – The mechanism of gastroprotective effect of TQ was assessed. Animals were injected with vehicle, TQ (10, 20 mg/kg), omeprazole (10, 20 mg/kg) or their combination (10 mg/kg). Thirty minutes later, pyloric ligation was carried out and followed consequently with ischemia for another 30 min, abided by reperfusion for 120 min. The ischemia/reperfusion insult increased the gastric acid secretion, acid output, and pepsin, as well as the gastric mucosal content/activity of lipid peroxide, proton pump and myeloperoxidase, along with ulcer index. However, content/activity of gastric mucin, reduced glutathione, total nitric oxide, and SOD were decreased. TQ, especially the high dose level, corrected the altered parameters in a comparable manner to that of the reference drug used, omeprazole. In addition, when the low doses were combined they add to each other to reach the effect of the high dose of either drug. Besides the antioxidant property, TQ has novel gastroprotective mechanisms via inhibiting proton pump, acid secretion, and neutrophil infiltration, while enhancing mucin secretion, and nitric oxide production.
- Hepato-protective activity – It is reported that N. sativa (0.2 mL/kg) intraperitoneally relieves the deleterious effects of ischemia-reperfusion injury on liver. Biochemical parameters like the serum aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase lactate dehydrogenase levels and total antioxidant capacity (TAC), CAT, total oxidative status (TOS), oxidative stress index (OSI) and MPO were determined in hepatic tissue in rats with hepatic ischemia. Results suggested that N. sativa treatment protects the rat liver against hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury. Nephroprotective activity
- The nephroprotective – the effect of vitamin C and N. sativa oil was observed against gentamicin (GM) associated nephrotoxicity in rabbits. Serum creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, and antioxidant activity were measured as indicators of nephrotoxicity for all the groups of rabbits. It was revealed that vitamin C and N. sativa oil both had nephroprotective effect as they lowered the values of serum creatinine, blood urea nitrogen and antioxidant activity as compared to GM control group values. When these two antioxidants were given as combination, they proved to have the synergistic nephroprotective effect.
- Pulmonary-protective activity and anti-asthmatic effects – Wienkotter et al., reported the effect of nigellone and TQ on trachea (antispasmodic effect) and their influence on respiratory clearance. The effects on Ba++ carbachol- and leukotriene-induced trachea contractions and the transport of the fluorescence dye rhodamine B concerning ciliary action in the tracheal area were investigated using a microdialysis technique. Nigellone and high concentrations of TQ had a concentration-dependent inhibitory effect on the trachea when being contracted by the depolarizing effect of Ba2+. The trachea contractions induced by leukotriene-d (4) LT4 were inhibited by nigellone and by TQ. It was concluded that nigellone possesses an antispasmodic effect and an increase in mucociliary clearance but TQ do not have such effects. Therefore, it is suggested that nigellone but not TQ may be useful in the treatment of different respiratory diseases.
- Antidiabetic activity – The therapeutic potentials of α-lipoic acid (α-LA), L-carnitine, and N. sativa or combination of them in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism was evaluated in a Rat model of diabetes which was induced by single i.p. injection of streptozocin (STZ) 65 mg/kg. For the evaluation of glucose metabolism, fasting blood glucose, insulin, insulin sensitivity, HOMA, C-peptide, and pyruvate dehydrogenase activity were determined. Either α-LA or N. sativa significantly reduced the elevated blood glucose level. The combination of 3 compounds significantly increased the level of insulin and C-peptide. Combination of α-LA, L-carnitine and N. sativa will contribute significantly to the improvement of the carbohydrate metabolism in diabetic rats, thus increasing the rate of success in the management of DM.
- Contraceptive and anti-fertility activity – Oral administration of Hexane extract of N. sativa seeds L. prevented pregnancy in Sprague-Dawley rats at a dose of 2 g/kg daily on day’s 1-10 postcoitum. While column fractions and sub-fractions of Hexane extract of N. sativa seeds also showed significant anti-fertility activity. At contraceptive dose, the active hexane extract exhibited only mild uterotrophic activity comparable almost to 0.002 mg/kg dose of 17 varies; is directly proportional to-Ethinylestradiol, but was devoid of any estrogenicity in the immature rat bioassay. The ethanolic extract of N. sativa seeds was found to possess an anti-fertility activity in male rats which might be due to the inherent estrogenic activity of N. sativa.
- Treats Stomach Issues – If you are struggling with indigestion, bloating, excess flatulence or any other stomach problem, black cumin seed oil can help, due to its function as a carminative.  It has also been linked to more efficient digestion, reduced constipation, the elimination of parasites, and even a decreased risk of colon cancer.
- Reduces Inflammation – The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in black cumin seed oil are directly linked to lubricating the joints, soothing pain, and reducing inflammation throughout the body.  Arthritic patients, as well as those suffering from respiratory issues and stomach tissue irritation, can benefit from the moderate use of this beneficial oil.
- Prevents Asthma Attacks – Many studies have linked a reduction in asthma attacks with regular use or inhalation of black cumin seed oil.  By using nose drops – one of the many forms of this oil – you can lower the severity and frequency of asthma attacks, which can be potentially life-saving.
- Prevents Allergies – For people without asthma, the same anti-inflammatory effects can help the immune system respond more accurately to allergens.  In other words, regular use of this seed oil can help prevent allergic reactions, such as skin inflammation, hives, rashes, stomach upset, chest tightness, and other common allergic responses.
- Skin Care – The fatty acids and antioxidants found in black cumin seed oil are able to benefit skin health in many ways.  It moisturizes the skin by providing a shield that locks in hydration, eliminates bacterial infections, prevents environmental stress, stimulates the growth of healthy new cells, and even improves the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes.
- Boosts Immune System – Owing to its antibacterial properties, black cumin seed oil has been used to prevent infections like MRSA and autoimmune diseases.  Its unique ability to protect the immune system without increasing the system’s attacks on the body is highly unusual, making it very exciting for people with autoimmune conditions.
- Prevents Diabetes – Research has shown that black cumin seed oil can help prevent both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It can boost pancreatic function and even regenerate beta-cells that are lost over time, increasing the risk of diabetes.  This oil is also good for diabetics, as it can regulate glucose and insulin levels in the body.
- Lowers Hypertension – The major presence of fatty acids, particularly oleic, linoleic, myristic, and palmitic acids, can help balance cholesterol levels in the body and improve circulation. This can lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, heart, and stroke. 
- Hair Care – For thousands of years, black cumin seed oil has been used to stimulate hair growth and improve the appearance of dry or unhealthy skin.  It can be massaged into the scalp, mixed in with shampoos, or simply consumed to boost overall antioxidant levels in the body. Topical application is better for preventing dandruff and other skin infections, due to the moisturizing and antibacterial properties of the oil, respectively.
- Prevents Obesity – By adding healthy fats to your system, such as linoleic and oleic acids in black cumin seed oil, you are able to stimulate the metabolism, access usable energy more quickly, and reduce fat deposition.  This can increase passive fat burning and boost energy levels, helping you be more active and shave off even more pounds
- To improve sperm function – Research shows that taking black seed oil increases the number of sperm and how quickly they move in men with infertility.
- Breast pain (mastalgia) – Research shows that applying a gel containing black seed oil to the breasts during the menstrual cycle reduces pain in women with breast pain.
- A type of leukemia (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) – Taking black seed while being treated for this type of cancer might increase the chances of staying cancer-free once treatment ends. But it doesn’t improve overall survival.
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) – Early research suggests that taking black seed oil by mouth daily might improve allergy symptoms in people with hay fever.
- Itchy and inflamed skin (eczema) – Early research suggests that taking black seed oil by mouth might improve symptoms in people with itchy and inflamed skin. But applying black seed oil ointment to the skin does not seem to help.
- A disease that attacks the thyroid (autoimmune thyroiditis) – Taking black seed might improve some but not all measures of thyroid function in people with a disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
- Dry nose – Early research shows that using a nasal spray containing black seed oil can reduce dryness, blockage, and crusting of the nostrils in elderly patients with nasal irritation.
- Indigestion – Taking a product containing black seed oil, honey, and water seems to reduce symptoms of indigestion. It’s unclear if this improvement is due to black seed or other ingredients.
- Seizures (epilepsy) – Early research shows that taking black seed extract by mouth reduces the number of seizures in children with epilepsy. But taking black seed oil does not seem to work.
- Stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori (H pylori infection) – Some research shows that taking black seed powder along with the drug omeprazole might help eliminate a certain bacteria (H. pylori) in the stomach that can cause stomach ulcers. But not all doses seem to work.
- Hepatitis C – Some research shows that taking black seed powder along with the drug omeprazole might help eliminate a certain bacteria (H. pylori) in the stomach that can cause stomach ulcers. But not all doses seem to work.
- High cholesterol – Some early research shows that taking crushed black seed increases “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and reduces total cholesterol, “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood fats called triglycerides in people with borderline high cholesterol. Other research shows that taking both crushed black seed and garlic oil in addition to other products that lower cholesterol, such as simvastatin, can lead to larger improvements in blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels than simvastatin alone. However, not all research agrees.
- 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.
- Methotrexate toxicity – Early research shows that taking black seed might reduce liver damage caused by a certain drug used to treat cancer in children with a type of leukemia.
- Relieving symptoms related to opioid withdrawal – Early research shows that taking black seed extract by mouth three times daily for 12 days might reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
- Osteoarthritis – Early research shows that applying black seed oil to the knee for 3 weeks can help relieve knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – Early research shows that taking black seed oil improves pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis who are already taking methotrexate.
- A sore throat and swollen tonsils (tonsillopharyngitis) – Early research suggest that taking a combination of chance piedra and black seed by mouth for 7 days relieves pain in people with a sore throat and swollen tonsils.
- Birth control
- Boosting the immune system
- Cancer prevention
- A cough
- Digestive problems including intestinal gas and diarrhea
- A headache
- Increasing breast-milk flow
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