June 30, 2016

Black Seed

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What other names is Black Seed known by?

Ajenuz, Aranuel, Baraka, Black Cumin, Black Caraway, Charnuska, Cheveux de Vénus, Cominho Negro, Comino Negro, Cumin Noir, Fennel Flower, Fitch, Graine de Nigelle, Graine Noire, Kalajaji, Kalajira, Kalonji, La Grainer Noire, Love in a Mist, Mugrela, Nielle, Nigella sativa, Nigelle de Crête, Nigelle Cultivée, Nutmeg Flower, Poivrette, Roman-Coriander, Schwarzkummel, Small Fennel, Toute Épice, Upakuncika.

What is Black Seed?

Black seed is a plant. People have used the seed to make medicine for over 2000 years. It was even discovered in the tomb of King Tut.

Historically, black seed has been used for headache, toothache, nasal congestion, and intestinal worms. It has also been used for "pink eye" (conjunctivitis), pockets of infection (abscesses), and parasites.

Today, black seed is used for treating digestive tract conditions including gas, colic, diarrhea, dysentery, constipation, and hemorrhoids. It is also used for respiratory conditions including asthma, allergies, cough, bronchitis, emphysema, flu, swine flu, and congestion.

Other uses include lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, treating cancer, and boosting the immune system. You may read that a patent has been issued to cover the use of black seed to improve immunity, but don't be misled. The presence of a patent doesn't mean black seed has been shown to be effective for this use.

Women use black seed for birth control, to start menstruation, and to increase milk flow.

Black seed is sometimes used in combination with cysteine, vitamin E, and saffron to ease the side effects of a chemotherapy drug called cisplatin.

Some people apply black seed directly to the skin for joint pain (rheumatism), headache, and certain skin conditions.

In foods, black seed is used as a flavoring or spice.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Asthma. Research suggests that taking black seed extract by mouth improves coughing, wheezing, and lung function in people with asthma. However, black seed may not be as effective as the drugs theophylline or salbutamol.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing black seed oil, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and biotin (Immerfit by Phyt-Immun) by mouth daily might improve allergy symptoms in people with hay fever.
  • Itchy and inflamed skin (eczema). Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing black seed oil, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and biotin (Immerfit by Phyt-Immun) by mouth daily might improve symptoms in people with itchy and inflamed skin. However, applying 15% black seed oil ointment to the skin for 4 weeks does not appear to improve itching or disease severity in similar patients.
  • Seizures (epilepsy). Early research suggests that taking black seed extract by mouth every eight hours for 4 weeks might reduce the number of seizures in children with epilepsy.
  • High cholesterol. Evidence regarding the effectiveness of black seed for high cholesterol is conflicting. Some early research suggests that taking whole crushed black seed 1 gram twice daily before meals for 4 weeks reduces cholesterol, "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood fats called triglycerides in people with high cholesterol. However, other research shows that taking powdered black seed 1 gram twice daily for 6 weeks does not improve cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure. Early research suggests that taking black seed extract twice daily for 8 weeks might slightly improve blood pressure in some people.
  • 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.
  • Relieving symptoms related to narcotic drug withdrawal (opiate withdrawal). Early research suggests that taking black seed extract by mouth three times daily for 12 days might reduce symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
  • Sore throat and swollen 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 sore throat and swollen tonsils.
  • Digestive problems including intestinal gas and diarrhea.
  • Cough.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Flu.
  • Congestion.
  • Boosting the immune system.
  • Cancer prevention.
  • Birth control.
  • Menstrual disorders.
  • Increasing breast-milk flow.
  • Achy joints (rheumatism).
  • Headache.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of black seed for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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