Curious about this little pitch black, aromatic seed?
The elegant-looking Nigella sativa flowers with a mysterious air and the tiny black seeds with intricate microscopic textures have been around in use for centuries for their myriad health benefits and curative properties. Nigella sativa is an annual herb indigenous to the Mediterranean region and has been cultivated in the Middle East, North Africa and some parts of Asia. The blessed seed from the Nigella sativa flower is known by a lot of names like Black Cumin, Black Caraway, Kalonji, Gizhah, Haba’ Al-Barakah, Schwarzkummel to begin with.
This tiny seed has been in the kitchen cupboard and culinary literature for decades. But the medicinal use of the seed has been pretty much confined to the traditional systems and rural populations who use locally available herbs and natural remedies for their health problems.
Black Seed in History
King Tutenkhamen’s tomb having Black Seed among other carefully chosen items to be taken to the hereafter creates intrigue about the preciousness of the oil in ancient Egyptian traditions eras ago.
The book of Isaiah in the Old Testament has the earliest reference to the Black seed. It has been clarified in Easton’s Bible Dictionary that “ketsah,” the Hebrew word for black cumin, refers to, without doubt the Nigella sativa, “a small annual of the order Ranunculaceae which grows wild in the Mediterranean countries, and is cultivated in Egypt and Syria for its seed.”
According to the Greek physician, Dioscoredes of the 1st century, black seeds were consumed to relieve headaches, toothache, nasal congestion and intestinal worms. He also reported that it was used as a diuretic to promote menstruation and increase milk production.
The importance of black seed in the treatment of hepatic and digestive disorders has been asserted in the Greco-Arab/Unani-Tibb system of medicine, which originated from Hippocrates, his contemporary Galen and Ibn Sina. Known for his contribution to the history of medicine with his writings called “The Canon of Medicine”, Ibn Sina (980-1037), referred to black seed as the seed “that stimulates the body’s energy and helps recovery from fatigue or disspiritedness.”
Al-Tibb Al-Nabawi has included black seed in the list of natural and, according to the Hadith, “Hold onto the use of the black seed for it has a remedy for every illness except death”. Recent research proves that it is not an exaggeration. It has been found that black seed can significantly boost the human immune system on continual use. The Prophetic phrase, “hold onto the use of the seed,” also highlights the consistent intake of the seed.
Black Seed in Traditional Medicine
Black seed has been traditionally and successfully 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 mothers, 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.
Being a powerful remedy in the Prophetic Medicine, Black Seed is quoted to have “the cure for everything except death”. Recent researches are substantiating that statement now with studies conducted on a variety of diseases, from minor ailments to fatal cancers and infections.
Black Seed – The Medicine Cabinet
It could be one reason to wipe out your cluttered medicine cabinet – Black Seed has it all. Right from being a nutritional supplement rich in nutrients and omega fatty acids to being a potent antibiotic, antifungal and a lot of other things, black seed has begun giving conventional medications a run.
Thymoquinone, the active ingredient found in Nigella sativa has been found to be a powerful antimicrobial, antifungal and antioxidant compound. It is a free-radical scavenger and preserves the antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase, which aid in cellular antioxidant defense systems as liver detoxifiers. Thymoquinone and its kins, Thymohydroquinone and Thymol, team up in this incomparable seed, making them a prospective treatment for more than the common diseases of the human body.
The most common therapeutic powers of this aromatic spice seed that you would want to take note of are:
- Nutritional boost – One of the richest sources available of essential amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids which have numerous benefits and help our body function optimally.
- Immunity booster – Boosts human immunity and is of great value in helping immunocompromised individuals and in autoimmune diseases. Studies indicate that it has a remarkable effect in the prognosis of AIDS / HIV infection.
- Anti-Histamine action – Relieves allergic reactions helping with diseases like bronchial asthma, hay fever, etc.
- Anti-bacterial – Potent antibacterial, even against resistant strains that conventional antibiotics fail to fight. Found effective against MRSA infections, too.
- Anti-inflammatory – Helps to reduce inflammation and relieves symptoms of pain and swelling in diseases like arthritis.
- Anti-viral – Stimulates bone marrow and immune cells and enhances interferon production which fights viral infections.
- Anti-tumor activity – Potent anti-tumor agent against many types of cancers including intestinal cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer etc.
- Boosts Metabolism – Increases metabolism and aids proper vital functions.
- Lifestyle diseases and Metabolic syndrome – Reduces the risk of developing hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia. Also helps in preventing metabolic syndrome.
- Aids Weight Loss – Helps with obesity by aiding proper functioning of digestive system, increased metabolism, appetite curbing and burning of fat.
- Skin problems – Known for giving a clear skin. Fights all kinds of skin conditions including acne, eczema, rashes, boils, psoriasis and much more.
- Hair problems – Very effective in treating hair problems like hair fall, dandruff, greying of hair and hair texture problems.
The above are just the tip of the iceberg this miracle seed’s medicinal power is. Earlier, black seeds were eaten as such, included in recipes, taken with honey or other ingredients. While the benefits are multifold when taken in combination with other therapeutic ingredients or herbs, the most potent form of black seed is its oil. Black seed oil is more economic, easier to consume and most effective to restore your health.
You can learn more about this blessed seed, along with its various uses, recipes and other tips on natural healthcare and clean living at our blog, Naturments Living.