GENERAL NAME: Black Seed, Black Cumin
LATIN NAME: Nigella Sativa
CHINESE NAME: Hei Zhong Cao, Hei Zhong Cao Zi
ORIGIN: The homeland of Black Seed is the Mediterranean and South-West Asia. The plant is common in the countries of the Mediterranean, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Black Cumin is cultivated in India and Egypt. India is the main producer and the largest exporter of Black cumin.
BOTANICAL INFORMATION: Black Cumin (lat. Nigella sativa) is an annual herb that belongs to Ranunculaceae family. There are about 20 species of the genus. Black cumin is an herbaceous annual plant, up to 40 cm in height. The stem is branched. Leaves are of gray-green color, pinnate, deeply dissected into linear, divergent, short lobes. Cumin flowers are large, simple or double, of white or greenish-blue shades, depending on the type. Flowering lasts from May to August. Fruit ripening occurs in August. Each corolla blooms for about 6 days, but even after flowering, the plant does not lose its own decorative effect. The fruits of Black Cumin are large, elongated multi-leaf boxes consisting of 4-7 follicles with numerous lumpy seeds.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION: Nigella Sativa has extremely rich chemical composition. Black Cumin seeds contain fatty oil (up to 44%), essential oil (0.8–1.5%), glycoside melanthin, alkaloid damascein (0.1—0.3%), steroids, sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, lipase enzyme.
Black Cumin essential oil is a yellow liquid with a spicy smell. The main active substance in its composition is melantol. The oil contains saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, including Omega-9 and Omega-6, 15 amino acids,arginine, phospholipids, B vitamins, vitamin C, D, phytosterols, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, tannins substances, flavonoids, carotenoids, mono- and polysaccharides, enzymes, alkaloids, triterpene saponins. Black cumin contains many micro- and macronutrients: calcium, phosphorus, iron, etc. The leaves of the plant contain up to 0.43% of ascorbic acid and a large amount of carotene.
ACTIONS OF BLACK CUMIN: The seeds are widely used as diuretic, analgetic, antiallergic, anticariogenic, carminative, galactogogue, anthelmintic.
HEALTH EFFECTS AND BENEFITS: The use of Black Seed is quite popular in traditional medicine. The unique composition and beneficial properties of Black cumin are widely used for therapeutic purposes in treating various diseases:
- It can help in fighting against cancer due to its potent phytochemical and antioxidant abilities;
- Black Cumin promotes liver health. When using as a water decoction, it removes toxins from the liver;
- Various studies prove that Black Seed increases the lowered serum insulin concentration and decreases the elevated serum glucose, thus it is good at combating diabetes;
- The seed decoction is effective when having colds, bronchial asthma, tuberculosis, peptic ulcer and hemorrhoids;
- Alcohol tincture improves metabolic processes, cleans blood vessels and is used for prostate adenoma;
- Black cumin has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system and reduces high blood pressure;
- Nigella Sativa is used to cure different skin problems, such as dermatitis, eczema, pustular skin lesions;
- Not to mentions that Black Cumin increases lactation on lactating women, improves fertility, balances cholesterol, treat various infections and improves immune system.
CONTRAINDICATIONS AND SIDE EFFECTS: Despite its rich composition and beneficial properties, Black Cumin still has contraindications.
- It is not recommended to use during the last weeks of pregnancy, as it stimulates generic activity;
- Do not use Black Cumin if you are allergic to any of its components;
- When using externally it can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.
According to archaeological research, the history of using Black Seed in traditional medicine in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East is about 3000 years old. Nigella Sativa was mentioned on the pages of the Bible.
Dioscorides, Pliny, Avicenna, and Hippocrates also used Black cumin for therapeutic purposes. Oriental healers called Black cumin "blessed seed that cures from any disease except death."
Muslims widely use Black cumin decoctions and tinctures for the treatment. Black Seed in the Muslim religion was called the plant of the Prophet.
The ancient Egyptians used Black Cumin as a natural cosmetic. They used it as part of an antidote for snakebites, to improve digestion, to get rid of intestinal parasites. Black cumin was found in the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs in the form of a vessel with healing oil, it proves ones again the importance of the plant in ancient times.
*This article is for informational purposes only. We suggest consulting a physician before using these or any other herbal supplements.