Spotlight: Black Seed Oil
Black Seed Oil (BSO). Haven't heard of it? It's cool if you haven't - you will soon, and it'll be all over the internet and will be the talk of the town. So before BSO gets popular, I've rounded up some of the research detailing what it could be beneficial for so that you can make a fair-and-balanced decision on whether to supplement it into your daily wellness ritual. Before any of the science stuff, let's do a quick into. BSO is from a plant called Nigella Sativa. N. sativa is native to southwestern Asia, where it has been used for centuries for a variety of conditions. In certain parts of that area, it appears to be a cure-all and "miracle herb", which heightens my suspicion about this potentially trendy natural remedy. Cool, let's slide into the health and wellness benefits of N. sativa by talking about what science shows.
Animal studies show that black seed oil and extracts of N. sativa can be effective against non-lethal staphylococcal infections; have synergistic effects with antibiotics (gentamicin, streptomycin, doxycycline, ampicillin, terbinafine) against E. coli; and have strong anti-fungal effects on candidiasis, especially with methanol extracts of N. sativa.
Anti-oxidant & Anti-inflammatory properties
The most potent antioxidant found in N. sativa is thymoquinone (TQ). Literature indicates that TQ improved enzymatic and non-enzymatic anti-oxidants in animal models and reduced fat oxidation in healthy human models. Why care especially about fat oxidation? When fat oxidizes, it has the potential to lead to cellular dysfunction & inflammatory response and has the potential to cause plaques in arteries. With this, N. sativa/BSO could be paired with dietary antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione and its precursors, and SOD) to reduce free radicals in the body.
Heart health properties
One study showed that N. sativa reduced total cholesterol, LDL-c, and triglycerides in menopausal women when taking 2 grams of N. sativa per day for 2 months. This same study revealed that N. sativa increased HDL-c and that when N. sativa was discontinued for 1 month, lipid levels returned to pretreatment levels. This study also indicated that increasing N. sativa supplementation to 3 grams did not provide any further therapeutic effect in terms of significantly changing lipid profiles. Further research shows the potential of N. sativa for reducing blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension. One study revealed that supplementation with N. sativa extract for 2 months significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure values when compared to baseline levels.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Alongside reducing serum lipid levels, one study reveals that BSO has the potential to reduce fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c levels in healthy individuals. Researchers postulate that essential oils found in N. sativa activates biochemical signaling pathways (via adenosine monophosphate kinase) that basically activate cellular proteins that reduce lipids and blood sugar (such as insulin). Studies also show that N. sativa extracts cause regeneration and proliferation of beta cells in animal models, which means that more insulin can be produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar.
Animal models show that aqueous suspension of N. sativa inhibits induced gastric ulcers and that it can reduce the severity of gastric ulcers. Researchers postulate that this effect might be due to the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of N. sativa.
In one study, healthy human volunteers were treated with 1 gram of N. sativa twice a day for 4 weeks to observe the effect on cellular immune response. This study revealed an increased in function for T-cell and natural killer cells. Other studies show that BSO reduced allergy response in patients with allergic rhinitis, eczema, and bronchial asthma.
One study investigating the effects of BSO on male infertility showed that 5 mL of BSO taken twice a day for 2 months lead to improved sperm count, motility, morphology, and semen volume. At this dosage, researchers found no adverse effects with and of the 68 infertile men.
Literature reveals that N. sativa and BSO are safe and well-tolerated in animal models treated with an oral dose of 2 mL/kg for 12 weeks. No adverse effects to liver or kidney functions are found. Also, there is literature indicating that N. sativa extracts inhibit proteins associated with drug metabolism, which means that it can interact with certain prescribed pharmaceuticals. If you choose to supplement with this herb, please refer to your healthcare practitioner for proper dosage to ensure optimum dosing for specific health goals.
So, what do you think about Black Seed Oil? Are you impressed or are you suspicious about it? I find the literature to be impressive about the benefits of N. sativa, but it would be great to have more human trials done. For those of you out there who've tried it, how did you like it? Comment below and let me know.
- Dr. B
Ahmad, Aftab, et al. “A Review on Therapeutic Potential of Nigella Sativa: A Miracle Herb.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, vol. 3, no. 5, 2013, pp. 337–352., doi:10.1016/s2221-1691(13)60075-1.
Gholamnezhad, Zahra, et al. “Preclinical and Clinical Effects of Nigella Sativa and Its Constituent, Thymoquinone: A Review.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 190, 2016, pp. 372–386., doi:10.1016/j.jep.2016.06.061.
Kooti, Wesam, et al. “Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, and Therapeutic Uses of Black Seed ( Nigella Sativa ).” Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, vol. 14, no. 10, 2016, pp. 732–745., doi:10.1016/s1875-5364(16)30088-7.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. There are no financial ties to any supplement companies, pharmaceutical companies, or to any of the products mentioned in this post. This post is not meant to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose conditions or diseases and is meant for educational purposes. As always, please consult your doctor before trying any new treatments or supplements.