Historically, black seed has been used for headache, toothache, nasal congestion, asthma, arthritis, and intestinal worms. It has also been used for "pink eye" (conjunctivitis), pockets of infection (abscesses), and parasites.
Today, black seed is most commonly used for asthma, diabetes, hypertension, weight loss, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Asthma. Research shows that taking black seed by mouth along with asthma medicines can improve coughing, wheezing, and lung function in some people with asthma. But it seems to work only in people with very low lung function before treatment. And it does not seem to work as well as the drugs theophylline or salbutamol.
- Diabetes. Research shows that taking black seed can improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. But it doesn't seem to work as well as the diabetes drug metformin. Black seed might also improve levels of cholesterol in people with diabetes.
- High blood pressure. Research shows that taking black seed by mouth might reduce blood pressure by a small amount.
- Conditions in a man that prevent him from getting a woman pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (male infertility). 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.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Acne. Applying a gel containing black seed extract to the skin might help to improve acne.
- Hay fever. Early research suggests that taking black seed oil by mouth daily might improve allergy symptoms in people with hay fever.
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis). 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 causes underactive 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.
- Damage to the immune system caused by cancer drug treatment. Early research shows that taking black seed as part of the diet while undergoing cancer drug treatment might prevent fever episodes due to low white blood cell counts (neutropenia) in children.
- Swelling (inflammation) of a vein caused by cancer drug treatment. Early research shows that applying black seed oil around the area where cancer drugs are injected into a vein might prevent swelling of that vein.
- Long-term kidney disease (chronic kidney disease or CKD). Some people with CKD follow a diet low in protein and add supplements to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Early research shows that taking black seed oil might help to improve kidney function in these people.
- Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Early research shows that black seed helps with some but not all measures of memory and attention in boys and men. It's unknown if black seed improves memory and thinking skills in girls and women.
- Heart damage caused by the drug doxorubicin. Early research shows that taking black seed oil might prevent heart damage in children being treated with a drug called doxorubicin.
- Indigestion (dyspepsia). 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.
- Seizure disorder (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.
- A digestive tract infection that can lead to ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori). Some research shows that taking black seed powder along with other medications might help to get rid of this infection. But not all doses seem to work.
- Hepatitis C. Early research shows that taking black seed oil daily for 3 months reduces viral load in people with hepatitis C. It also seems to reduce lower limb swelling. But it doesn't seem to improve liver function.
- 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.
- Cancer of the white blood cells (leukemia). Taking black seed while being treated for a type of leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia might increase the chances of staying cancer-free once treatment ends. But it doesn't improve overall survival.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (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.
- Toxicity caused by the drug methotrexate. 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.
- Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Early research shows that taking black seed daily for 3 months can improve some measures of liver disease in patients with NAFLD.
- Obesity. Some research shows that taking black seed oil or powder might improve weight loss by a small amount in people who are obese or overweight. But other research shows no benefit. Studies are generally small and low-quality, so more research is needed.
- Withdrawal from heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs. 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 3-4 weeks can help relieve knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.
- Skin damage caused by radiation therapy (radiation dermatitis). Applying a gel containing black seed extract to the skin might help to delay this side effect in people being treated for breast cancer.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research shows that taking black seed oil improves pain and stiffness in people with RA who are already taking methotrexate.
- Dry nose in the elderly. 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.
- Infection of the throat and 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 tonsillopharyngitis.
- A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). Early research shows that taking black seed powder daily for 6 weeks does not improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
- A skin disorder that causes white patches to develop on the skin (vitiligo). Early research shows that applying a cream containing black seed oil to the skin for 6 months can improve skin color in some people with vitiligo.
- Birth control.
- Boosting the immune system.
- Cancer prevention.
- Digestive problems including intestinal gas and diarrhea.
- Menstrual disorders.
- Symptoms of menopause.
- Other conditions.
When applied to the skin: Black seed oil or gel is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin, short-term. It can cause allergic rashes in some people.
Special Precautions and Warnings
There isn't enough reliable information to know if black seed is safe to use when 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. Black seed might also cause your body to have very high levels of a chemical called serotonin. This can cause severe side effects. Stop using black seed at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
We currently have no information for BLACK SEED overview.
- For asthma: 2 grams of ground black seed has been used daily for 12 weeks. Also, 500 mg of black seed oil has been taken twice daily for 4 weeks. In addition, 15 mL/kg of black seed extract has been used daily for 3 months. A single dose of 50-100 mg/kg has also been used.
- For diabetes: 1 gram of black seed powder has been used twice daily for up to 12 months. 1000-1350 mg of black seed oil taken in divided doses daily has also been used for 8-12 weeks.
- For high blood pressure: 0.5-2 grams of black seed powder has been taken daily for up to 12 weeks. Also, 100-200 mg or 2.5 mL of black seed oil has been used twice daily for 8 weeks.
- For conditions in a man that prevent him from getting a woman pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (male infertility): 2.5 mL of black seed oil has been used twice daily for 2 months.
- For breast pain (mastalgia): A gel containing 30% black seed oil has been applied to breasts every day for two menstrual cycles.
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El Gazzar, M. A. Thymoquinone suppressses in vitro production of IL-5 and IL-13 by mast cells in response to lipopolysaccharide stimulation. Inflamm.Res 2007;56(8):345-351. View abstract.
El Mahmoudy, A., Shimizu, Y., Shiina, T., Matsuyama, H., Nikami, H., and Takewaki, T. Macrophage-derived cytokine and nitric oxide profiles in type I and type II diabetes mellitus: effect of thymoquinone. Acta Diabetol. 2005;42(1):23-30. View abstract.
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El Wakil, S. S. Evaluation of the in vitro effect of Nigella sativa aqueous extract on Blastocystis hominis isolates. J Egypt Soc.Parasitol. 2007;37(3):801-813. View abstract.
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Enomoto, S., Asano, R., Iwahori, Y., Narui, T., Okada, Y., Singab, A. N., and Okuyama, T. Hematological studies on black cumin oil from the seeds of Nigella sativa L. Biol.Pharm.Bull 2001;24(3):307-310. View abstract.
Fararh, K. M., Atoji, Y., Shimizu, Y., Shiina, T., Nikami, H., and Takewaki, T. Mechanisms of the hypoglycaemic and immunopotentiating effects of Nigella sativa L. oil in streptozotocin-induced diabetic hamsters. Res Vet.Sci 2004;77(2):123-129. View abstract.
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Fouda, A. M., Daba, M. H., Dahab, G. M., and Sharaf El-Din, O. A. Thymoquinone ameliorates renal oxidative damage and proliferative response induced by mercuric chloride in rats. Basic Clin Pharmacol.Toxicol. 2008;103(2):109-118. View abstract.
Gali-Muhtasib, H., Diab-Assaf, M., Boltze, C., Al Hmaira, J., Hartig, R., Roessner, A., and Schneider-Stock, R. Thymoquinone extracted from black seed triggers apoptotic cell death in human colorectal cancer cells via a p53-dependent mechanism. Int J Oncol. 2004;25(4):857-866. View abstract.
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Hosseinzadeh, H., Parvardeh, S., Nassiri-Asl, M., and Mansouri, M. T. Intracerebroventricular administration of thymoquinone, the major constituent of Nigella sativa seeds, suppresses epileptic seizures in rats. Med Sci Monit. 2005;11(4):BR106-BR110. View abstract.
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Kanter, M., Meral, I., Yener, Z., Ozbek, H., and Demir, H. Partial regeneration/proliferation of the beta-cells in the islets of Langerhans by Nigella sativa L. in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Tohoku J Exp.Med 2003;201(4):213-219. View abstract.
Keyhanmanesh, R., Boskabady, M. H., Eslamizadeh, M. J., Khamneh, S., and Ebrahimi, M. A. The effect of thymoquinone, the main constituent of Nigella sativa on tracheal responsiveness and white blood cell count in lung lavage of sensitized guinea pigs. Planta Med 2010;76(3):218-222. View abstract.
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Le, P. M., Benhaddou-Andaloussi, A., Elimadi, A., Settaf, A., Cherrah, Y., and Haddad, P. S. The petroleum ether extract of Nigella sativa exerts lipid-lowering and insulin-sensitizing actions in the rat. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;94(2-3):251-259. View abstract.
Mansour, M. and Tornhamre, S. Inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase and leukotriene C4 synthase in human blood cells by thymoquinone. J Enzyme Inhib.Med Chem. 2004;19(5):431-436. View abstract.
Marsik, P., Kokoska, L., Landa, P., Nepovim, A., Soudek, P., and Vanek, T. In vitro inhibitory effects of thymol and quinones of Nigella sativa seeds on cyclooxygenase-1- and -2-catalyzed prostaglandin E2 biosyntheses. Planta Med 2005;71(8):739-742. View abstract.
Massadeh, A. M., Al Safi, S. A., Momani, I. F., Al Mahmoud, M., and Alkofahi, A. S. Analysis of cadmium and lead in mice organs: effect of Nigella sativa L. (Black Cumin) on the distribution and immunosuppressive effect of cadmium-lead mixture in mice. Biol.Trace Elem.Res 2007;115(2):157-167. View abstract.
Meddah, B., Ducroc, R., El Abbes, Faouzi M., Eto, B., Mahraoui, L., Benhaddou-Andaloussi, A., Martineau, L. C., Cherrah, Y., and Haddad, P. S. Nigella sativa inhibits intestinal glucose absorption and improves glucose tolerance in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1-30-2009;121(3):419-424. View abstract.
Meral, I., Yener, Z., Kahraman, T., and Mert, N. Effect of Nigella sativa on glucose concentration, lipid peroxidation, anti-oxidant defence system and liver damage in experimentally-induced diabetic rabbits. J Vet.Med A Physiol Pathol.Clin Med 2001;48(10):593-599. View abstract.
Nagi, M. N. and Almakki, H. A. Thymoquinone supplementation induces quinone reductase and glutathione transferase in mice liver: possible role in protection against chemical carcinogenesis and toxicity. Phytother.Res 2009;23(9):1295-1298. View abstract.
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Parvardeh S and et al. Effects of thymoquinone, the major constituent of Nigella sativa seeds, on the contractile responses of rat vas deferens. Pharmaceutical Biology (Netherlands). 2003;41:616-621.
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Qidwai, W., Hamza, H. B., Qureshi, R., and Gilani, A. Effectiveness, safety, and tolerability of powdered Nigella sativa (kalonji) seed in capsules on serum lipid levels, blood sugar, blood pressure, and body weight in adults: results of a randomized, double-blind controlled trial. J Altern.Complement Med 2009;15(6):639-644. View abstract.
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Farhangi MA, Dehghan P, Tajmiri S, Abbasi MM. The effects of Nigella sativa on thyroid function, serum Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) - 1, Nesfatin-1 and anthropometric features in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 2016;16:471. View abstract.
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Hagag AA, Badraia IM, El-Shehaby WA, Mabrouk MM. Protective role of black seed oil in doxorubicin-induced cardiac toxicity in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2020;26(6):1397-1406. View abstract.
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Keshri G, Singh MM, Lakshmi V, Kamboj VP. Post-coital contraceptive efficacy of the seeds of Black seed in rats. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1995;39:59-62. View abstract.
Khonche A, Huseini HF, Gholamian M, Mohtashami R, Nabati F, Kianbakht S. Standardized Nigella sativa seed oil ameliorates hepatic steatosis, aminotransferase and lipid levels in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Ethnopharmacol. 2019 Apr 24;234:106-111. View abstract.
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Kooshki A, Forouzan R, Rakhshani MH, Mohammadi M. Effect of topical application of nigella sativa oil and oral acetaminophen on pain in elderly with knee osteoarthritis: a crossover clinical trial. Electron Physician. 2016 Nov 25;8(11):3193-97. View abstract.
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Molaie M, Darvishi B, Jafari Azar Z, Shirazi M, Amin G, Afshar S. Effects of a combination of Nigella sativa and Vitex agnus-castus with citalopram on healthy menopausal women with hot flashes: results from a subpopulation analysis. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2019 Jan;35(1):58-61. View abstract.
Mousa HFM, Abd-El-Fatah NK, Darwish OA, Shehata SF, Fadel SH. Effect of Nigella sativa seed administration on prevention of febrile neutropenia during chemotherapy among children with brain tumors. Childs Nerv Syst. 2017;33(5):793-800. View abstract.
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Moustafa HAM, El Wakeel LM, Halawa MR, Sabri NA, El-Bahy AZ, Singab AN. Effect of Nigella sativa oil versus metformin on glycemic control and biochemical parameters of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus patients. Endocrine 2019;65(2):286-94. View abstract.
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Nikakhlagh S, Rahim F, Aryani FH, Syahpoush A, Brougerdnya MG, Saki N. Herbal treatment of allergic rhinitis: the use of nigella sativa. Am J Otolaryngol. 2011 Sep-Oct;32(5):402-7. View abstract.
Nikkhah-Bodaghi M, Darabi Z, Agah S, Hekmatdoost A. The effects of Nigella sativa on quality of life, disease activity index, and some of inflammatory and oxidative stress factors in patients with ulcerative colitis. Phytother Res. 2019 Apr;33(4):1027-1032. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6296. Epub 2019 Jan 22. View abstract.
Onifade AA, Jewell AP, Adedeji WA. Nigella sativa concoction induced sustained seroreversion in HIV patient. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2013;10(5):332-5. View abstract.
Oysu C, Tosun A, Yilmaz HB, Sahin-Yilmaz A, Korkmaz D, Karaaslan A. Topical nigella sativa for nasal symptoms in elderly. Auris Nasus Larynx. 2014 Jun;41(3):269-72. View abstract.
Perveen T, Haider S, Zuberi NA, et al. Increased 5-HT levels following repeated administration of Nigella sativa L. (Black Seed) oil produce antidepressant effects in rats. Sci Pharm 2013;82:161-70. View abstract.
Rafati M, Ghasemi A, Saeedi M, et al. Nigella sativa L. for prevention of acute radiation dermatitis in breast cancer: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2019;47:102205. View abstract.
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Sahebkar A, Soranna D, Liu X, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of supplementation with Nigella sativa (black seed) on blood pressure. J Hypertens 2016;34:2127-35. View abstract.
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Salem AM, Bamosa AO, Qutub HO, et al. Effect of Nigella sativa supplementation on lung function and inflammatory mediatorsin partly controlled asthma: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Saudi Med 2017;37:64-71. View abstract.
Salem EM, Yar T, Bamosa AO, et al. Comparative study of nigella sativa and triple therapy in eradication of helicobacter pylori in patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia. Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jul-Sep;16(3):207-14. View abstract.
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