History of the Black Seed
For over two thousand years the black seed, a plant from the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family, has been traditionally used by various cultures throughout the world as a natural remedy for several diseases and ailments and to improve health in general.
The ancient Egyptians knew and used the black seed and described it as a panacea (cure for problems and diseases). Tutankamun even had a bottle of the oil in his tomb!
The Romans also knew this seed and called it Greek Coriander and used it as a dietary supplement.
In the first century, the Greek physician Dioscoredes recorded that the black seed were taken to treat headaches, nasal congestion, toothache and intestinal worms.
The black seed is also mentioned in the Bible in Isiah 28:25-27 as the ?fitches?. Ibn Senna, known in the West as Avicenna, who wrote the great medical treatise ‘The Canon of Medicine’, referred to the black seed as the seed ?that stimulates the body’s energy and helps recovery from fatigue?.
What is Nigella Sativa (the black seed)?
Nigella Sativa originates from Western Asia and is a herb that grows about 16-24 inches in height and has white flowers when in bloom. The plant is now cultivated from the Near East to India. The deep black, sharp-cornered rectangular seeds (no longer than 3 mm) are the part of the plant that is used for the preparation of products.
The black seed is cultivated in Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Arabia, Oman, Ethiopia, Middle East, Far East, India, Bangladesh, France, Germany and the Mediterranean Basin. It also grows wild in Egypt, Syria, Asiatic Turkey and the Balkan States.
Nigella Sativa is known commonly in Arabic as Habbat-ul-Baraka (blessed seed) and in English as Love in the Mist.
Since 1959, over 200 studies have been carried out at international universities and articles published in various journals have shown remarkable results supporting its traditional uses.
The Nigella Sativa seed itself contains numerous esters of structurally unusual unsaturated fatty acids and the chemical composition is very rich and diverse. Apart from its active ingredient, crystalline nigellone, it contains 15 amino acids (including eight of the nine essential ones), carbohydrates, fatty acids including linolenic and oleic, volatile oils, alkaloids and dietary fibre, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium and potassium.
Recent research on the black seed as an anti-biotic, anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, anti-bacterial, anti-bronchial and immune boosting agent has shown great promise.
Traditional uses of the Black Seed from around the world For centuries, the black seed and its oil has been used by people in Asia, Africa, the Middle and Far East to promote health and fight disease. It has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments and conditions related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal complaints, kidney and liver function, circulatory and immune system support and to improve health in general.
Black seed contains fixed oil in the form of myristic, palmitric, stearic, arachidic oleic, linoleic, lilolenic and eicososadienoic acids and volatile oil. It also contains albumen, sugar, organic acids, glucoside, melanthin, metarbin and bitter substances. The scientific name for blackseed is nigella sativa. It is also called caraway and black cumin, or Konji in India. Arab traditions regard it as a cure for all diseases. Black seed strengthens the immune system, is a prescription for asthma, whooping cough, kidney ailments, gout, common cold, paralysis, facial palsy, migraine, amnesia, rheumatism, palpitations, diabetes mellitus, mad dog bites, cataract (early stages), earache, skin disorders, high blood pressure and thrombosis. Black seed aids digestion, strengthens the stomach, expels gas, increase lactation, induces menstrual flow, is a diuretic, improves memory, an expectorant and anti-fever.
Black seed Home Remedy:
General health Take 1 tablespoon blackseed oil morning and night, or at least in the morning before breakfast on its own or with 1 teaspoon pure honey.
Bee stings, wasp stings Take ? teaspoon blackseed boiled in water.
Coughs Take 3-4 drops of black seed oil in coffee or tea.
Cold Take 21 black seed, put it in a cloth and soak overnight. Use as droplets for the nose the next day. Inhale powdered blackseed kept in cloth.
Chronic headaches, migraine Fry black seed and put it cotton-made cloth, tie or simply put the cloth on the forehead.
Soak black seed in vinegar overnight, pound it the next day to make powder. Insert in nostril and inhale.
Worms Take black seed with vinegar to get rid of worms.
Please find below some traditional Black Seed remedies that are used around the world:
Asthma & Bronchial Problems (Far East, Middle East & Malay Peninsula) Mix a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil in coffee. Taken twice daily. Also rub chest with Black Seed Oil every night and inhale the vapour of Black Seed Oil in hot water.
Backache & other kinds of rheumatism (Middle East & Malay Peninsula) Mildly heat a small amount of Black Seed Oil and then stroke the rheumatic area intensely. A teaspoon of the oil should also be drunk three times daily.
Diabetes (India) Mix a cup of whole Black Seeds, a cup of watercress or mustard seeds, half a cup of pomegranate peel, and half a cup of fumitory. Grind the mixture to powder. Take half a teaspoon of the mixture together with a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil daily before breakfast for one month.
Diarrhoea (India & Middle East) Mix a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil with a cup of yoghurt. Drinking the mixture twice a day until symptoms disappear.
Dry Cough (Middle East & North Africa) A teaspoon of Black Seed Oil should be mixed in coffee and taken twice a day. Rub the chest and back with Black Seed Oil.
Flu & Nasal Congestion (General) Placing three to four drops of Black Seed Oil in each nostril can relieve nasal congestion and head cold distress.
Hair Greying (General) Massaging the hair with Black Seed Oil regularly may prevent premature hair greying.
Hair Loss (India & Middle East) Stroke the scalp thoroughly with lemon and leave for about 15 minutes, shampoo, wash and dry hair thoroughly. Then massage Black Seed Oil into the scalp. Drink a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil mixed in tea/coffee.
Hay Fever (Middle East) One tablespoon of Black Seed Oil mixed with a glass of lemon should be taken twice daily until symptoms disappear.
Headaches (General) Rub the forehead and the sides of the face near the ears with Black Seed Oil and bandage the head. Also a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil should be taken before breakfast.
Healthy Being (General) To maintain good health take a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil mixed with one teaspoon of pure honey, twice daily.
Healthy Complexion (General) Mix a tablespoon of Black Seed Oil with a tablespoon of olive oil. Rub the face with this mixture and leave it for at least one hour. Wash with soap and water.
Hypertension (India) Mix any drink with a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil and also take two lobes of garlic every morning with breakfast. Rub all the body with Black Seed Oil and expose your body to sun rays for half an hour once every three days. Repeat for one month.
Laziness and Fatigue (Turkey) One tablespoon of Black Seed Oil with a glass of pure orange juice every morning for at least 10 days.
Memory Improvement (Middle East) A teaspoon of Black Seed Oil mixed in 100mg of boiled mint for at least 15 days.
Muscular pains (General) Massage the area with Black Seed Oil.
Nervous Tension Stress (India) A teaspoon of Black Seed Oil with a cup of tea/coffee to be taken three times daily.
Sexual Impotency (Europe & Middle East) Mix 200g of ground Black Seeds with Olive Oil & l00g of ground olibanum & 50g of Black Seed Oil & 50g of olive oil & 200g of pure honey. Mix thoroughly and take a tablespoon after every meal.
Sleeping Disorder (General) A tablespoon of Black Seed Oil mixed with honey in any hot drink in the evening.
Toothache & Gums (General) First cook Black Seeds with vinegar. Add Black Seed Oil. Rinse the mouth with this formulation to help the gums and relieve toothache.
Ulcers (Indonesia & India) Roast powdered Black Seeds over the fire. Mix them with oil of orrisroot, or the oil of henna plant, or the oil of camphire plant making an ointment that is then spread over the festering rural ulcers.After lavation treat with vinegar.
Black Cumin is a small plant, of the order Ranunculaceae which grows in the wild, originating in the Middle East like so many other spice plants and culinary herbs. Nigella Sativa is cultivated in France and Germany and it is found abundantly growing wild in Egypt, Asiatic Turkey and the Balkan States.
The taste of the seeds are of hot, peppery or spicy flavor.
The parts used are the seeds. Nigella sativa belongs to the order Ranunculaceae and is an annual herb, 8 to 12 inches high, with leaves cut into numerous, narrow, pinnate segments. The flowers are solitary, terminal, without an involucre; the petals blue and white, with greenish glands. The capsule is formed of 3 to 6 carpels, opening by the ventral suture. The plant grows on the Mediterranean coasts, in Egypt, but has been cultivated into other parts of the world including Saudi Arabia, northern Africa and parts of Asia, whence it has spread to India The seeds are tiny and hairy ( 1-2 mm long), black, 3 sided and book a bit like pieces of flint under a microscope Nigella sativa is sometimes mistakenly confused with the fennel herb plant (Foeniculum vulgare).
The plant has finely divided foliage and pale bluish purple or white flowers.
The flowers grow terminally on its branches while the leaves grow opposite each other in pairs, on either side of the stem. Its lower leaves are small and petiole, and the upper leaves are long (6-10cm). The stalk of the plant reaches a height of twelve to eighteen inches as its fruit, the black seed, matures.
Nigella sativa reproduces with itself and forms a fruit capsule which consists of many white trigonal seeds. Once the fruit capsule has matured, it opens up and the seeds contained within are exposed to the air, becoming black in color (black seeds).
The constituents of the black seed give it the importance of being an immune system booster. The seeds contain the components Nigellone and Thymoquinone. Black seed contains numerous esters of unsaturated fatty acids with terpene alcohols. Furthermore, traces of alkaloids (nigelline-N-oxide, nigellone, nigellimine) are reported. In the essential oil thymoquinone was identified as the main component besides p-cymene, ?-pinene, dithymoquinone and thymohydroquinone.
Oil is cold pressed from the seeds. Oil of Nigella Sativa is a yellowish to dark amber liquid.
It does not show fluorescence, not even when diluted with alcohol. A fixed oil is produced by hydraulic expression of the seeds of nigella sativa.
The reported oil content of N. sativa seeds ranges from about 0.1-1.5PerCent, depending also on the isolation method and duration of distillation (2-4). The pharmaceutical properties of this species have recently been reviewed (3,5). Thymoquinone has generally been recognized as one of the more abundant components of the oil, and the one responsible for the pharmaceutical interest of the plant.
Nigella Sativa is traditionally known in Middle Eastern countries as ‘Habbat al Barakah’ – ‘The Blessed Seed’, due to it’s powerful healing qualities for many ailments. It is an excellent natural medicine used for millenniums to treat a variety of conditions related to respiratory health, skin, stomach and intestinal disorders, kidney & liver function, circulatory and immune system support, and to maintain and improve overall health.
It acts as a stimulant, aromatic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, excitant, galactatagogue, purgative, resolvent, stomachic, sudorific, tonic, and vermifuge. Black seed has been traditionally used in the middle and Far east countries for centuries to treat ailments including bronchial asthma and bronchitis, rheumatism and related inflammatory diseases, to increase milk production in nursing others, to treat digestive disturbances, to support the body’s immune system, to promote digestion and elimination, and to fight parasitic infestation. Its oil has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and boils and is used topically to treat cold symptoms.
Recent research has provided evidence that most illnesses arise because of an imbalanced or dysfunctional immune system which cannot perform its primary function of defending the body optimally. Research also indicates that black seed contains an ability to significantly boost the human immune system – if taken over time.
Great research has been done on Nigella Sativa in regards to it’s anti-cancer properties, especially breast cancer with promising results. one of the largest experimental studies so far proved that Nigella Sativa oil had enormous success in tumour therapy without the negative side effects of common chemo-therapy. They found that it increased the growth rate of bone marrow cells by a staggering 250PerCent and it inhibited tumour growth by 50PerCent. It stimulated immune cells and raised the interferon production which protect cells from the cell destroying effect of viruses. They confirmed the strongly anti-bacterial and anti-micotic effects and that it has an effect in lowering the blood sugar level which is essential for the treatment of diabetes.
The oil of nigella sativa is so beneficial due to it’s content of over a hundred components such as aromatic oils, trace elements, vitamins and enzymes.
It contains 58PerCent of essential fatty acids including omega 6 and omega 3. These are necessary for the forming of rostaglandin E1 which balances and strengthens the immune system giving it the power to prevent infections and allergies nd control chronic illnesses. Healthy cells are protected from viruses thus inhibiting tumours. Blackseed oil also ontains about 0.5 – 1.5PerCent volatile oils including nigellone and thymochinone which are responsible for its anti-histamine, anti-oxidant, anti-infective and broncho-dilating effect.
The healing secrets of black seed oil have been found to provide medicinal properties ranging from immunostimulant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-ulcerative, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumourous, anti-pyretic (an agent that relieves or reduces fever) hypoglycaemic, immunomodulatory, anti-hypertensive, anti-depressant, anti-spasmic, respiratory system rebuilder, hepato (liver) protective, anti-parasitic worm and bronchodilator. As an oil it is digested through the lymphatics consequently purifying and unblocking the lymphatic system.
Experiences of doctors in Munich displayed that 70PerCent of patients with allergic conditions, among them being pollen and dust allergies, asthma and neuro-dermitis were cured by Nigella Sativa.
For upper respiratory conditions, at least a few of its constituents have shown an antihistamine-like action, which explains is positive effects for upper respiratory diseases including asthma, bronchitis, and cough. The oils of the seed increase milk flow which explains its folk use as a galactagogue. In large quantities, however, the seeds have also been used to abortion.
Externally the seeds can be ground to a powder, mixed with a little flour as a binder and applied directly to abscesses, on the forehead for headache, nasal ulcers, orchitis, and rheumatism. The seeds also are a rich source of sterols, especially beta-sitosterol, which is known to have anticarcinogenic activity. This substantiates its folk use for indurations and/or tumors of the abdomen, eyes and liver.
In India, Nigella seeds are combined with various purgatives to allay gripping and colic and also help kill and expel parasites.
Culinary uses .
The seeds are used both as a condiment in bread and cakes and various confections and like pepper or combined with pepper such as cayenne in sauces.
In Algeria, the roasted seeds are combined with butter for cough and honey and taken for colic.
Still another use is to sprinkle them with woolen garments as a moth repellant