Nigella sativa, or black seed or black cumin, is an annual herb that grows to 20–90 cm. Its flowers are usually delicate and of different colors, such as white, yellow, pink, blue, or purple.
Many indigenous cultures and religious and medical traditions have been using this plant worldwide since ancient times. Naturally, this is thanks to its various properties.
Black seed is native to southern Europe, North Africa, and Southwest Asia.
However, it’s been cultivated in several countries worldwide such as India, Syria, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, in southern European nations and countries of the Mediterranean region.
Both its seeds and oil have a long folkloric history. For example, the earliest records of its cultivation and use take us to Egypt, to the tomb of the ancient pharaoh Tutankhamun over 3,300 years ago.
What Can We Use It For?
Traditionally, black cumin was used for the treatment of various disorders and diseases related to the respiratory, immune, digestive, or cardiovascular systems, among others.
For example, in the Hindu and Arab cultures, black cumin and its oil were used for food and medicine. Meanwhile, in the countries of Southeast Asia and the Middle East, they used it to treat ailments such as rheumatism, inflammatory diseases, bronchitis, and asthma.
How Can You Use It?
You can use black cumin in many ways:
- Maceration – The active ingredients are extracted from the seeds through this dyeing process. This presentation is used in cases of indigestion, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, dropsy, and rashes.
- Oil – In this case, the oil can be an antiseptic and analgesic.
- Seeds – Eating the roasted seeds of Nigella Sativa is useful to help stop vomiting.
The Properties of Black Cumin
Nigella sativa is one of the most studied medicinal plants in recent years. As a result, there’s plenty of research out there regarding its uses.
Therefore, there are numerous scientific studies that reassure it can help improve your health if you consume it in a balanced manner.
- Among the main healing substances found in the seed, there’s thymoquinone, the main bioactive component of the essential oil.
- Also, it contains alpha-hederina. This is water-soluble substance that works as a potential anticarcinogenic agent.
In addition to its protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber contents, Nigella sativa seeds also contain a good amount of various vitamins and minerals. These include as potassium, zinc, iron, among others.
Similarly, these seeds contain unsaturated acids, primarily linoleic acid (50 to 60%) and oleic acid (20%). Also, it has saturated fatty acids to a lesser extent (30% or less).
Here are some of its pharmacological effects:
As you may have noticed, black seed has amazing nutritional and medical potential.
However, it’s important to note that although its consumption brings great benefits, it can also have some side effects.
The consumption of black seed is prohibited during pregnancy because the herb may affect normal uterine contractions.
In some instances, the use of black seed can cause anaphylaxis. This is an allergic reaction that leads to inflammation of the airways.
The allergic reaction may also appear in some parts of the face, such as lips, tongue, and mouth. Typically, it comes with urticaria, dizziness, nausea, etc.
This condition is fatal if not treated promptly. For this reason, you need to be careful when consuming it and be aware of the effect it has on you.
Due to its antioxidant properties, black seed may decrease the effectiveness of normal cancer treatments and drugs. This includes radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
In these cases, you have to consult with a specialist before consuming it.
In some cases, touching the seed can cause a rash and itchy skin. On the other hand, it could also cause blistering, pain, or tenderness in the area that touched the seed.
Lowers Blood Pressure
One of the seed’s properties is that it lowers blood pressure and increases breathing.
Therefore, it’s not recommended for those suffering from low blood pressure. After all, its consumption could increase the effects of hypo-tension, cause shock due to the sudden blood loss, a serious infection, or even a heart attack.
In conclusion, black cumin is considered miraculous, and understandably so. However, you should remember that too much of any substance is generally harmful to health.