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Black seed (Nigella sativa)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 2-isopropyl-5-methyl-1,4-benzoquinone, 4-terpineol, ajenuz, alanine, alkaloids, alpha-hederin, alpha-hexadrin, alpha-pinene, alpha-spinasterol, arachidonic acid protein, aranuel, arginine, ascorbic acid, asparagine, Baraka, beta-sitosterol, black caraway, black cumin, black cumin essential oil (BCEO), black cumin fixed oil (BCFO), black cumin seed, black onion seed, blackseed, blessed seed, calcium, campesterol, carvacrol, carvone, charnushka (Russian), citronellol, cominho negro (Portuguese), cominho-negro dicotyledon, copper, corek otu (Turkish), crude fiber, crystalline nigellone, cymene, cystine, dehydroascorbic acid, dihomolinoleic acid, dithymoquinone, d-limonene, eicosadienoic acid, fennel flower, fennel-flower, fitch, folacin, garden fennel flower, glucose, glutamic acid, glycine, habbah Albarakah, Habbatul Baraka, hazak (Hebrew), iron, isoleucine, kalonji (Hindi), leucine, limonene, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, lipase, love in the mist, lysine, melanin, methionine, myristic acid, N. sativa (Kalonji) seed, niacin, nigella, Nigella damascene L., Nigella grains, Nigella sativa, Nigella sativa (family Ranunculaceae), Nigella sativa L. family Ranunculaceae, Nigella sativa Linn. (family Ranunculaceae), Nigella sativa Linneaus, Nigella suava L., nigellamines, nigelle de Crète (French), nigellicin, nigellidin, nigellimin, nigellimin-N-oxide, nigellin, nigellone, nutmeg flower, nutmeg-flower, oleic acid, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, p-cymene, pentacyclic triterpene, phenylalanine, phosphorus, phytosterols, potassium, prasaplai, pyridoxine, Ranunculaceae (family), riboflavin, Roman coriander, saponin, Schwarzkümmel (German), seeds of blessing, siyah daneh (Persian), sodium, stearic acid, steroidal glucoside, sterols, stigmasterol, synthetic thymoquinone derivative Poloxin, tannin, terpine, terpineol, thiamine, threonine, thymohydroquinone, thymol, thymoquinol, thymoquinone, thymoquinone (2-isopropyl-5-methyl-1,4-benzoquinone), thymoquinone poly (lactide-co-glycolide), toute épice (French), TQ, trans-anethole, tryptophan, tyrosine, zinc.
  • Note: According to secondary sources, other names used for black seed are onion seed and black sesame (both of which are similar-looking but unrelated). Frequently, the seeds are referred to as black cumin; however, while this may refer to the seeds of Nigella sativa, this may also refer to the seeds of a different plant, Bunium persicum.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Black seed (Nigella sativa) is an annual flowering plant native to southwest Asia. It has a pungent, bitter taste and a faint smell of strawberries. It is used primarily in candies and liquors, as well as medicinally. In many Arab, Asian, and African countries, black seed oil is used as a natural remedy for a wide range of diseases (1), including various allergies.
  • Black seed was found to improve pulmonary function tests and symptoms of asthma in patients with asthma and in chemical war victims (2;3;4). Also, four separate studies in patients with allergies (allergic rhinitis, bronchial asthma, atopic eczema) reported that black seed decreased subjective measures of allergic disease severity, slightly decreased plasma triglycerides, and slightly increased HDL cholesterol (5). A limited number of high-quality human trials support the use of black seed for any other indication.
  • Black seed contains a number of compounds, including thymoquinone, that have been implicated as having potential anticancer properties (6). Secondary sources indicate that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted a patent for a drug based on a pharmaceutical composition containing extracts of Nigella sativa to be used as an immune system stimulant and cancer treatment, and for the prevention of anticancer chemotherapy side effects.
  • Black seed is on the FDA Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.