What is Black Seed?
Black Seed

Nigella sativa is an annual flowering plant, found in the Mediterranean region, Arabian peninsula, northern Africa and parts of Asia. It is planted in winter, flowers in the spring and is harvested in the early summer for its jet-black seeds. These tiny seeds are one of the most revered medicinal seeds in history and are known by many different names. By whatever name it is known it remains a legendary ancient medicinal herb.

In English, Nigella sativa seed is called black seed, black cumin, fennel flower, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, black caraway or black onion seed. However, the plant has no relationship to the culinary kitchen herbs cumin, coriander or caraway. The ancient Persians called it Shonaiz. In Arabic it is referred to as “habbatul barakah”, which means "the seed of blessing." Its other names include "Love in a Mist", Schwarzcummel, Kalonji, Sinouj, Ketsah and Habba sowda...

What is the Nutritional Content of Black Seed?

Black SeedBlack Seed is rich in fatty acids, particularly unsaturated and essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids, alpha-Linolenic acid (omega-3) and Linoleic acid (omega-6), cannot be manufactured in our bodies and therefore must be included in our diets or as supplements to sustain good health.

Black Seed contains monosaccharides (single molecule sugars) in the form of glucose, rhamnose, xylose, and arabinos. Black seed contains a non-starch polysaccharide; a useful source of dietary fibre.

It contains 15 amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), including all the essential amino acids, which cannot be synthesied by our body and must therefore be provided by our diet.

It contains carotenes, which are converted by the liver into vitamin A, essential for healthy skin and hair.

Black Seed is also a source of calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium. These elements are essential for healthy bones and blood and for ensuring the optimum running of our body’s metabolic functions.

Black Seed Composition

Black SeedAlanine, arginine, ascorbic-acid, asparagine, campesterol, carotene, carvone, cymene, cystine, dehydroascorbic-acid, eicosadienoic-acid, glucose, glutamic-acid, glycine, iron, isoleucine, leucine, d-limonene, linoleic-acid, linolenic-acid, lipase, lysine, methionine, myristic-acid, nigellin, nigellone, oleic-acid, palmitic-acid, phenylalanine, phytosterols, potassium, beta-sitosterol, alpha-spinasterol, stearic-acid, stigmasterol, tannin, threonine, thymohydroquinone, thymoquinone, tryptophan, tyrosine.

Not suitable for vegetarians / vegans. capsule shell from 100% bovine sourced gelatin.

What is the history of Black Seed?

Whole Black SeedBlack Seed has a long history in many cultures throughout the world. Cultivation of Black Seed has been traced back more than 3,000 years to the kingdoms of the Assyrians and ancient Egyptians. A bottle of black cumin oil was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Black Seed is an established part of traditional Egyptian dishes. Physicians to the pharaohs used the seeds as a digestive aid after opulent feasts and as a remedy for colds, headaches, toothaches, infections, inflammatory disorders and allergies. Black Seed is also mentioned in the Bible in Isaiah 28:25-27.

Black Seed has a special place in Islamic medicine. It is regarded as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine available. It is said that prophet Mohammed said, “There is a healing in the black seed for all diseases except death.”

Hippocrates, who is the father of modern medicine, identified black seed as a cure for liver and digestion diseases. Greek philosophers used black seed to heal headache, toothache and other muscle pains.

The Romans called this seed Greek Coriander and also used it as a dietary supplement.

It has continued to find favour in treating medical ailments worldwide.

In 1959, the active ingredient in black seed was first isolated and has since been the subject of much research, exploring its many health benefits.

What are the traditional uses of Black Seed?

Black Seed has been traditionally used across Asia, Africa and in Middle and Far Eastern countries to improve health in general and fight disease. It has specifically been used to treat ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism and other inflammatory diseases, prevent and treat disorders of digestion and to reduce hair loss and delay greying of hair.

The oil has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and boils and is used topically to treat cold symptoms.

How should I take Black Seed?

Black Seed is taken in numerous different ways across the globe.

Black Seed oil is often mixed with a drink for internal use, but can be taken off a spoon.

You can, of course, use Black Seed as a culinary herb and add the whole seeds, the powdered seed or the oil to your recipes.

Black Seed oil may be applied directly to the skin. It is quite heavy and may be better mixed with virgin olive oil. It also mixes well with Aloe Vera Gel, which will help it penetrate deep into the skin. Or you can mix a little with your usual moisturiser.

Whole Black Seed has several other applications: A bag placed in a wardrobe will deter moths. Bags are also hung near fireplaces or other heat sources as a room freshener. It will need renewing about every third week.

For headaches you can wrap some seed in a handkerchief or muslin bag, bruise it between your hands and inhale the vapours. This can also be used to “lift” your spirits if you feel down.


For those just beginning to take the oil initially one should take: 1 teaspoon 3 times daily for 2-3 weeks and thereafter a teaspoon 2 times daily.

This dosage may be increased when illness falls upon us. As much as it is advisable to take it continually, it is also advisable to sometimes not take it for a couple of weeks so the body doesn't take it for granted.

For those taking capsules (some people find the oil far too pungent) the equivalent of 2 capsules amounts to one teaspoon of oil.

What is the evidence for Black Seed?

“Black cumin seed (Nigella sativa) oil extracts have been used for many centuries for the treatment of many human illnesses, and more recently the active compound found in black seed oil, thymoquinone (TQ) has been tested for its efficacy against several diseases including cancer. However, further research is needed in order to assess the full potential of TQ”.

Below is a link to an excellent scientific review of the evidence supporting Nigella Sativa’s legendary medicinal uses. It is entitled “From here to eternity - the secret of Pharaohs: Therapeutic potential of black cumin seeds and beyond”. By Subhash Padhye, Sanjeev Banerjee, Aamir Ahmad, Ramzi Mohammad, and Fazlul H (Reference: Cancer Ther. 2008; 6(b): 495–510).


The article covers:

Further Reading

Black Cumin: The Magical Egyptian Herb for Allergies, Asthma, and Immune Disorders (Inner Traditions, 2000) by Peter Schleicher, M.D., and Mohamed Saleh, M.D.

Black Seed Article from:

The Sunday Times, October 09, 2005

Susan Clark — What's the alternative?

Q. What can you tell me about the herb black seed (Nigella sativa)? Is it true that it can cure all ailments? And can I get any products that contain it in the UK?
J Jackson, by e-mail

A. Coincidentally, this is one of the herbs that I intend to investigate when I return to Morocco this month to take a closer look at some of the Arabic and traditional Berber remedies I encountered on my first visit to that part of the world earlier this year. Nigella sativa is called sanouge, or Naigella, in that part of the world, but is known as black cumin or black caraway in other regions. I was impressed by this herb because, when I was given it to get rid of an intense migraine, it quickly cleared both my congested head and my congested sinuses.

The fact that it was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun suggests it was an important plant in ancient Egypt, and there are so many medicinal claims for this plant that it has become known as “the seed of blessing”. Generally speaking — and despite the fact that I find the folklore and ethnobotany associated with specific plants the most interesting part of this job — I would steer clear of any remedies reputed to be a miracle cure for anything, never mind everything. Nevertheless, black seed is an intriguing herb, and my personal experience tells me that it has potent medicinal properties.

I brought back a large bag of these seeds in their raw state from North Africa. To use them, especially for headaches, I simply bundle a teaspoon of seeds into a small square of muslin, squash the bundle to release the vapours, and inhale.


She obviously didn’t look very far for this next bit!

In the UK, the only company I can find selling products based on black seed is Victoria Health

Traditional uses of Black Seed

(please note these are not our recommendations)

Asthma & Bronchial Problems (Far East, Middle East & Malay Peninsula)

Mix a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil in coffee. Take twice daily. Also rub Black Seed Oil into the chest 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 into the rheumatic area vigorously. Drink a teaspoon of the oil 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. Drink the mixture twice a day until symptoms are relieved.

Dry Cough (Middle East & North Africa)

Mix a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil in coffee. Take twice daily. Rub the chest and back with Black Seed Oil.

Flu, Cold & Nasal Congestion (General)

Putting three or four drops of Black Seed Oil in each nostril can relieve nasal congestion and the distress of a head cold.

Greying Hair (General)

Massaging the scalp and hair with Black Seed Oil regularly may prevent premature hair greying.

Hair Loss (India & Middle East)

Massage the scalp thoroughly with lemon and leave for about 15 minutes. Wash, rinse 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 juice should be taken twice daily until symptoms disappear.

Headaches (General)

Rub Black Seed Oil into the forehead and the sides of the face near the ears and bandage the head. Also take a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil before breakfast. (Inhaling the aromatic oils from crushing whole seeds in a muslin bag has also been found beneficial)

Healthy Wellbeing (General)

Take a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil mixed with a teaspoon of pure honey twice daily.

Healthy Complexion (General)

Mix equal amounts of Black Seed Oil and virgin olive oil. Rub the face with this mixture and leave it for at least one hour. Wash with soap and water.

Hypertension (India)

Mix a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil in a drink and also take two cloves of garlic every morning with breakfast. Rub the entire 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)

Drink a tablespoon of Black Seed Oil in 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 Impotence (Europe & Middle East)

Mix 200g of ground Black Seeds, l00g of ground olibanum, 50g of Black Seed Oil and 200g of pure honey with Virgin Olive Oil. Mix thoroughly and take a tablespoon after every meal.

Sleeping Disorder (General)

A tablespoon of Black Seed Oil mixed with honey in a 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 the camphire plant to make an ointment. Spread this over the festering ulcers. After lavation treat with vinegar.