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Black Seed Oil: A Simple Guide

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Black seed oil, also known as black cumin or kalonji oil, is cold-pressed from the seeds of a flowering shrub called Nigella sativa. This oil has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb  for the treatment of all kinds of different health conditions from viruses, to respiratory illness, to general pain and inflammation. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once stated, “The black seed can heal every disease, except death”. This powerful oil is recognized by health experts today for its wide range of potential therapeutic benefits for overall health. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of black seed oil, its health benefits, nutrition data, and how best to use it.


                  • Black Seed Oil: An Overview
                  • A Short History
                  • Where Do Nigella Sativa Plants Grow?
                  • How Do People Use Black Seed Oil?
                  • Main Highlights & Potential Benefits
                  • Black Seed Oil Chemical Constituents & Nutritional Composition
                  • Conclusion

Black Seed Oil: An Overview

Scientific Name: Nigella sativa.


Other Names: Black Caraway, Black Cumin, Kalonji and Black Onion Seeds, Nigella sativa, Roman Coriander, Fennel Flower.


Appearance: Small shrub. 20-30 cm tall, with lacey, finely divided, linear leaves. Flowers are usually pale blue and white with 5-10 petals.


Shape: Oval, circular, or oblong bush.


Size: 20-30 centimeters tall, up to a foot wide.


Taste: Slightly bitter, pungent, nutty, tart. Like a mix of pepper, poppy seeds, and oregano.


Texture: Smooth, liquid, oil.


Potential Benefits: High in omega-3, -6, & -9, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties, anti-parasitic, rich in antioxidants.

black seed oil, black seeds, and blue nigella sativa flower on white background

A Short History

Black seed oil is cold-pressed from the seeds of Nigella sativa – an annually flowering shrub native to southwest Asia. It goes by quite a few different names including black cumin oil, black caraway oil, kalonji oil, or Nigella sativa oil. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat various health conditions and to reap its purported health benefits. In fact, historians believe that even King Tut, Cleopatra, and Hippocrates used black seed all those many years ago.


The powerful compound known as Thymoquinone, is what makes black seed oil good for so many things. An article published in the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences calls this naturally occurring compound “an emerging natural drug with a wide range of medical applications” that possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective (preventing damage to the liver) properties.

Where Do Nigella Sativa Plants Grow?

While this genus of shrub likely originated somewhere in the east Mediterranean, northeast Africa, and southwest Asian, it has now been found growing wild and thriving in north Africa, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. It is important to note that different growing regions will yield different colors and taste of the oil.


Typically, black seed oil users think that a darker color and stronger taste mean that their oil is more potent. This is a myth. Color and taste are not indicative of potency and regions like Turkey, actually product a much lighter, golden colored oil with a lighter taste that offers a higher occurrence of important natural compounds such as Thymoquinone.

How Do People Use Black Seed Oil?

There are two main ways to use black seed oil: orally and topically. Black seed oil is typically consumed orally 1-2x per day, (morning and night). There are plenty of choices when it comes to choosing how you would like to consume the oil. You can find it available in liquid, capsules, gummies and tinctures or droppers.


There is no one way that is greater than the other and the choice on how to consume the oil really comes down to personal preference. Because the oil has such a distinct, peppery taste, many users prefer to take capsules or gummies instead to avoid its natural flavor. For others, they choose the oil because it may be absorbed more quickly and they would also like the opportunity to use it topically on the skin. For more detailed information on how and when to take black seed oil, refer to the article linked below:

The Best Time To Take Black Seed Oil

Main Highlights & Potential Benefits*

  • Anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic properties

  • Rich in healthy omegas 3, 6 & 9

  • Can reduce allergy symptoms

  • May help with treatment of acne vulgaris

  • Great for improving hair, skin, and nails

  • May reduce insomnia symptoms and promote deeper sleep

  • May boost fertility

  • May aid in respiratory symptoms including asthma

  • Boost immunity

  • May improve gut health and symptoms of constipation

  • May help with pain associate with swelling from arthritis

  • May improve joints

  • May aid in relieving symptoms of stress and anxiety

  • May aid in weight loss and improve metabolism

  • May aid in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar

Black Seed Oil Chemical Constituents & Nutritional Composition

According to the a comprehensive review on black seed oil published in the Irani Journal of Basic Med Science, (please see link for the publication with all included citations) the chemical constituents of black seed oil include: fixed oil, proteins, alkaloid, saponin and essential oil.


“The fixed oil (32-40 %) contains: unsaturated fatty acids which includes: arachidonic, eicosadienoic, linoleic, linolenic, oleic, almitoleic, palmitic, stearic and myristic acid as well as beta-sitosterol, cycloeucalenol, cycloartenol, sterol esters and sterol glucosides.


The volatile oil (0.4-0.45 %) contains saturated fatty acids which includes: nigellone that is the only component of the carbonyl fraction of the oil, Thymoquinone (TQ), thymohydroquinone (THQ), dithymoquinone, thymol, carvacrol, α and β-pinene, d-limonene, d-citronellol, p-cymene volatile oil of the seed also contains: p-cymene, carvacrol, t-anethole, 4-terpineol and longifoline.


Two different forms of alkaloids: isoquinoline alkaloid that includes: nigellicimine, nigellicimine n-oxide and pyrazol alkaloid that includes: nigellidine and nigellicine.


The nutritional compositions of N. sativa are vitamins, carbohydrates, mineral elements, fats and proteins that include eight or nine essential amino acids.


Black cumin seeds also have saponin and alpha hederine and in trace amount has carvone, limonene and citronellol, as well as provide relatively good amounts of different vitamins and minerals such as Fe, Ca, K, Zn, P, Cu.”


1 teaspoon or 5 ml black seed oil contains the following:


Calories 45


Total fat 5 gm (8%)


Saturated fat 1 gm (5%)


In conclusion, black seed oil is a highly nutritious and versatile oil that has been used for thousands of years for its many potential health benefits. Its rich nutritional profile, which includes healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, makes it a valuable addition to any diet. Its potential health benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved heart health, and enhanced immune function, make it a popular potential natural remedy for a variety of ailments. Whether used topically or ingested, black seed oil has many different uses and is worth considering as a part of your journey to better health. However, it is important to keep in mind that more research is needed to fully understand the extent of its benefits and potential side effects. As with any supplement, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before adding black seed oil to your routine.

Medical Disclaimer

Please speak with your doctor or other licensed healthcare professional before beginning any new supplement including Black Seed Oil. None of the content on this site is or should be considered medical advice. The purpose of this article is simply to highlight relevant research for those curious about the potential benefits of consuming Black Seed Oil.

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