Black Seed: Are There Health Benefits?

Medically Reviewed by Mahammad Juber, MD on November 29, 2022
3 min read

Black seed is the common name for the seeds of the Nigella sativa plant, which grows in southern Europe, the Middle East, and southwest Asia. It’s also known as nigella, black cumin, fennel flower, black caraway, and Roman coriander.

Black seed oil is extracted from these seeds. Capsules of the oil may be found in health stores and online. Both the oil and the seeds, which can be consumed raw or lightly toasted, have long been used as a medicinal plant in the regions where N. sativa is grown. It even appears in the words of Mohammad and the Judeo-Christian Holy Bible.

When consumed, black seed oil has been shown to have multiple health benefits and may aid in the following conditions:

Black seed oil can also be applied topically. Small scale studies have demonstrated positive effects for eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

That said, more research is needed to evaluate both the potential benefits and complications of using black seed and black seed oil.

One teaspoon of black seed oil contains: 

  • Calories: 45
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams

Black seed is a good source of:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Thiamin
  • Niacin
  • Phosphorous
  • Folic Acid

The medicinal benefits of black seed are mainly due to its main active compound called thymoquinone, which has shown antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other therapeutic properties that protect the body from cell damage and chronic diseases.

Along with offering a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals, black seed has demonstrated many potential health benefits:

Anti-Inflammatory Effects 

Black seed has proven to reduce inflammation and relax smooth muscles, easing the symptoms of people with asthma in clinical studies.

Combined with its antioxidant properties, these effects help prevent gastrointestinal disorders and relieve related symptoms.

Black seed may even help with neuroinflammation, or inflammation of brain tissue, which may contribute to the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. So far, research has only been done on animals, so more studies are needed to confirm this potential benefit in humans.

Metabolic Disorders and Weight Loss Support

When taken as a supplement, black seed oil could help people combat obesity and metabolic disorders. Recent studies have suggested that its use as a supplement may reduce body weight and BMI, but more research is needed.

Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Initial research has found that black seed may help lower blood pressure in healthy people.

It also lowers cholesterol. Women who combined black seed supplements with a low-calorie diet lowered their cholesterol more than women who didn’t take the supplements.

Lower Blood Sugar

People with type 2 diabetes who take black seed supplements have shown lower blood sugar levels, putting them at less risk for future diabetes-related complications. 

Black seed and black seed oil have proven largely safe in small doses, but some people may experience a few side effects. Consider the following before taking black seed supplements:

Digestive Issues

Some people have reported nausea and bloating after consuming black seed.

Medication Interference

Because black seed can affect your metabolism, it may interfere with some prescription medications. Talk to your doctor if you are on any drugs that might be affected.