What is nigella?
Also known as black cumin, nigella or by its scientific name Nigella sativa , nigella belongs to the buttercup family of flowering plants.
It is a plant that grows in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Western Asia.
In addition to its culinary use, nigella is known for its medicinal properties and is one of the most consumed vegetable oils as a dietary supplement in liquid form or in capsules .
In fact, its use dates back centuries as a natural remedy to cure all ailments.
Mentioned for its benefits in the Bible and the Quran, archaeologists have even found nigella seeds in the tomb of King Tut, highlighting their importance in history for healing and protection .
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The composition of the nigella seed
Black seed is extremely rich in nutritional values.
It contains nearly 40% fixed oils and 1.4% volatile oils. It also contains about fifteen amino acids, proteins, calcium, iron, sodium and potassium.
Among its most effective compositions are thymoquinone, dithymoquinone, thymohydroquinone and thymol. It is also rich in protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, C and niacin as well as calcium, potassium and iron. These are the very nutrients that modern science has found we are most lacking.
It also provides many of the same nutrients the WHO recommends to help prevent disease and slow the aging process.
What are the benefits of nigella seed?
This article discusses 9 of the most impressive, science-backed benefits of black cumin and how you can add it to your diet.
It is used nowadays in herbal medicine mainly for its superior antioxidant, immunostimulant, analgesic, anti-infective and antihistamine power.
Scientists report that black cumin seed contains the most beneficial elements (over a hundred different compounds) than any other compound ever discovered.
1. Has a High Antioxidant Content
Antioxidants are substances that neutralize harmful free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to cells.
Antioxidants can have a powerful effect on health and disease.
In fact, some studies indicate that antioxidants may protect against several types of chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity .
Several compounds present in nigella , such as thymoquinone, carvacrol, t-anethole and 4-terpineol, are responsible for its powerful antioxidant properties .
A test-tube study found that black seed oil also worked as an antioxidant .
However, more research is needed to determine how the antioxidants found in black seed may affect human health.
2. Lowers Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found throughout your body. Although you need cholesterol, high amounts can build up in your blood and increase your risk of heart disease.
The nigella has proven to be particularly effective for lower cholesterol .
A review of 17 studies found that black seed supplementation was associated with a significant decrease in total and “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as blood triglycerides.
Interestingly, he also found that black seed oil had a greater effect than black seed powder. However, only the seed powder increased levels of "good" HDL cholesterol .
Another study in 57 people with diabetes showed that black seed supplementation for a year decreased total and LDL cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol .
Finally, a study in 94 people with diabetes found similar results, indicating that taking 2 grams of black seed daily for 12 weeks reduced both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol .
3. Has anti-cancer properties
Black cumin is rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize harmful free radicals that can contribute to the development of diseases like cancer.
Test-tube studies have found impressive results regarding the potential anti-cancer effects of black seed and thymoquinone, its active compound.
For example, a test-tube study found that thymoquinone induced cell death in blood cancer cells .
Another test-tube study showed that black cumin extract helped inactivate breast cancer cells .
Other test-tube studies suggest that black seed and its components may also be effective against several other types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, cervical, prostate, skin, and colon cancers. .
However, there is still no evidence on the anticancer effects of nigella in humans. Studies are needed to determine if black seed has cancer-fighting benefits when used as a spice or taken as a supplement.
4. Helps Eliminate Bacteria
Pathogenic bacteria are responsible for a long list of dangerous infections, ranging from ear infections to pneumonia.
Some test-tube studies have shown that black seed may have antibacterial properties and be effective in fighting certain strains of bacteria.
One study applied black seed topically to infants with staph skin infection and found it to be as effective as a standard antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections .
Another study isolated Staphylococcus aureus resistant with methicillin (MRSA), a strain of bacteria that is difficult to treat and resistant to antibiotics, from the wounds of diabetic patients.
The nigella killed the bacteria in a dose-dependent manner in more than half of the samples .
Several other test-tube studies have shown that black seed can help inhibit the growth of MRSA, as well as many other strains of bacteria .
Still, studies in humans are limited, and more research is needed to examine how black seed may affect different strains of bacteria in the body.
5. Reduces Inflammation
In most cases, inflammation is a normal immune response that helps protect the body against injury and infection.
On the other hand, chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to various diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease .
Some studies have indicated that black seed can have powerful anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
In a study of 42 people with rheumatoid arthritis, taking 1000 mg of black seed oil daily for eight weeks reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress .
In another study, inflammation was induced in the brain and spinal cord of rats. Compared to a placebo, black seed was effective in protecting against and suppressing inflammation .
Similarly, a test-tube study showed that thymoquinone, the active compound in black seed , helped reduce inflammation in pancreatic cancer cells .
Despite these promising results, most human studies are limited to people with specific conditions. More research is needed to understand how black seed may affect inflammation in the general population.
6. Helps protect the liver
The liver is an incredibly important organ. It removes toxins, metabolizes drugs, processes nutrients, and produces proteins and chemicals essential for health.
Several promising animal studies have shown that black seed can help protect the liver from injury and damage.
In one study, rats were injected with a toxic chemical, with and without black seed . Black seed reduced the toxicity of the chemical and protected against liver and kidney damage .
Another animal study showed similar results, showing that rats injected with black seed were protected against induced liver damage, compared to a control group .
One review attributed the protective effects of black seed to its antioxidant content and ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress .
However, more studies are needed to measure how nigella may influence liver health in humans.
7. Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
High blood sugar can cause many negative symptoms, including increased thirst, unintended weight loss, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
Without long-term control, high blood sugar can lead to even more serious consequences, such as nerve damage, vision changes and slow wound healing.
Some evidence shows that black cumin may help keep blood sugar stable and thus prevent these dangerous undesirable side effects.
A review of seven studies showed that black seed supplementation improved fasting levels and average blood sugar .
Similarly, another study in 94 people found that taking black cumin daily for three months significantly reduced fasting blood sugar, mean blood sugar, and insulin resistance .
8. Prevents stomach ulcers
stomach ulcers are painful sores that form when stomach acids eat away at the layer of protective mucus that lines the stomach.
Some research shows that black cumin may help preserve the stomach lining and prevent the formation of ulcers.
In an animal study, 20 rats with stomach ulcers were treated with black seed . Not only did it have healing effects in about 83% of the rats, but it was also nearly as effective as a common drug used to treat stomach ulcers.
Another animal study showed that nigella and its active components prevented ulcer development and protected the stomach lining against the effects of alcohol .
Keep in mind that current research is limited to animal studies. More research is needed to determine how black seed may affect the development of stomach ulcers in humans.
9. Easy to add to your routine
There are several ways to add black seed to your diet.
With a bitter taste that is described as a mixture of oregano and onions, it is often found in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines.
It is usually lightly grilled and then ground or used whole to add flavor to bread or curry dishes.
Some people also eat the seeds raw or mix them with honey or water. They can also be added to oatmeal, smoothies or yogurts.
Additionally, black seed oil is sometimes diluted and applied topically as a natural remedy believed to increase hair growth, reduce inflammation, and treat certain skin conditions.
Finally, supplements are available in capsule or softgel form for a quick and concentrated dose of black seed.
The composition of the nigella seed
Extensive studies have been conducted to identify the composition of black cumin seed , the ingredients of the seed of N. sativa include: fixed oil, protein, alkaloid, saponin and essential oil.
The fixed oil (32-40%) contains: unsaturated fatty acids which include: arachidonic, eicosadienoic, linoleic, linolenic, oleic, almitoleic, palmitic, stearic and myristic acid as well as beta-sitosterol, cycloeucalenol, cycloartenol, sterol esters and sterol glucosides .
The volatile oil (0.4-0.45%) contains saturated fatty acids including: nigellone which is the only component of the carbonyl fraction of the oil, thymoquinone (TQ), thymohydroquinone (THQ), dithymoquinone, thymol, carvacrol, α and β-pinene, d-limonene, d-citronellol, p- cymene volatile seed oil also contains: p- cymene, carvacrol, t-anethole, 4-terpineol and longifoline .
Black cumin seeds have two different forms of alkaloids: isoquinoline alkaloid which includes: nigellicimine, nigellicimine n-oxide and pyrazole alkaloid which includes: nigellidine and nigellicine .
The nutritional compositions of N. sativa are vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and proteins that include eight or nine essential amino acids.
By sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), the fractionation of seeds whole of N. sativaa was performed, showing that the bands ranged in molecular mass from 94 to 100 kDa .
Black cumin seeds also contain saponin and alpha hederin and, in trace amounts, carvone, limonene and citronellol, as well as relatively good amounts of different vitamins and minerals such as Fe, Ca, K , Zn, P, Cu .
Most of the pharmacological effects are due to the quinine constituent, the QT of which is the most abundant. TQ has anticonvulsant , antioxidant , anti-inflammatory , anticancer , antibacterial, and antifungal activity .
What is the difference between Ethiopian and Egyptian nigella oil?
The nigella is mainly consumed in the form of oil made from Ethiopian or Egyptian nigella seeds , the benefits of which remain the same.
The difference ? Taste.
The Ethiopian nigella oil has a strong spicy taste while that of the Egyptian variant is much milder.
Nigella may not be for everyone
Although black seed ai has been associated with many health benefits and is generally safe when used as a spice or seasoning, taking a black seed supplement or using black seed oil may present some health benefits. risks.
For example, cases of contact dermatitis have been reported after application of nigella to the skin. If you plan to use it topically, be sure to do a patch test by applying a small amount first to make sure it doesn't cause an adverse reaction .
Additionally, some test-tube studies have shown that nigella and its components can influence blood clotting. If you are taking blood clotting medications, be sure to speak with your doctor before taking black seed supplements .
Additionally, while some animal studies have shown that black seed can be safely consumed during pregnancy, one animal study found that the oil may slow uterine contractions when used in large amounts .
If you are pregnant, be sure to use it in moderation and consult your doctor if you have any concerns.