Medicinal plants remain a great source of both edible and therapeutic means of livelihood for us since time immemorial. Most of these plants are used as herbal traditional medicines and even as allopathic medicines for treating various diseases and certain health-related conditions.
Some of these plants are equally used as spices for flavouring and spicing up food for good taste. One of such valuable plants is the black seed (Nigella sativa Linn), therefore deliberating further on this nutritive plant is highly essential.
Let me quickly reiterate that black seed is another special gift from nature that is definitely worth enjoying by everyone. Black seed which is also known as black cumin, jeraka, Kreuzkümmel, jira, jeera, zeera, zira, comino, sufaid, cumin, safed, kemouyn, kala, kalonji, kammun, Romische Kümmel, cumino, jinten, Tamil cheeregum, Malay jintan puteh, Sinhalese cheeregum, jeera, Cuminum cyminum or su(du)duru, belongs to the family of rananculacea.
It is a small beautiful annual herb cultivated and distributed all over the world especially in the Eastern countries and Mediterranean regions. Black cumin plant measures about 50 to 60 cm in height while the leaves measure approximately 2 to 3 cm long dividing into linear segments.
The upper leaves and petiolate are long while the lower leaves are small with whitish-pale bluish flowers. Black seed reproduces with itself forming a fruity sort of capsules that comprise of several white trigonal seeds which once matured, rupture to release seeds that usually turn black once exposed to air. Black seed have a characteristic triangular shape and do emit powerful smell.
The seeds are bitter in taste but yet very aromatic and flavourful. The black cumin seeds, black seed oil and black cumin flowers are mainly used as a natural remedy for treating ailments. However the mostly used part of this plant for pharmacological purposes is the oil followed by the seeds due to the complex chemical composition of both the oil and the seeds. Studies reveal that the black cumin seeds contain more than one hundred types of chemical components and essential fatty acids.
Moreover, the black seed is very distinctive from other plants seeds due to its numerous nutritive constituents and having such a long history of medicinal benefits. The peppery aroma of the black seed makes it a perfect alternative for black pepper.
Black seed is a rich source of minerals such as selenium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B-6, copper, calcium, zinc, niacin, lutein, carotenes, potassium, vitamin C, zeaxanthin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin E, riboflavin and manganese.
Studies reveal that black cumin contains anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, anti-microbial, antihypertensive, anti-cancer, anti-oxidizing, anti-flatulent, anti-nociceptive, anti-histaminic, anti-ulcer, antidiabetic, anthelmintic, acrid, emmenagogue, thermogenic, anodyne, deodorizing, digestive, carminative and analgesic properties.
Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil contains essential compounds namely; 2-methoxy-3-sec-butylpyrazine, cuminaldehyde (4-isopropylbenzaldehyde), 4-benzenediol, 2-(2-methoxypropyl)-5-methyl-1, ethoxy-3-isopropylpyrazine, 2-methoxy-3-methylpyrazine and pyrazines. The black cumin seed oil also contains (+)-limonene, cholesterol, p-cymene, campesterol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, carvone 18, linolenic, stearic acids, nigellone, α-spinasterol, (+)-citronellol, palmitoleic acid, linoleic acid, citronellyl acetate, arachidic, carvacrol 26, limonene, linoleic, myristic, oleic, carvone, trans-anethole, oleic acid, p-cymene, palmitic acid and thymol. Some researchers strongly agree that the black seed oil is highly essential for treating and alleviating several diseases and certain health-related conditions.
Benefits of Black Cumin
1. Dermatological Uses of Black Seeds
Black seed oil is an excellent source of vitamin E thus can be applied externally on the skin for treating skin diseases like dry skin, burn marks, rashes, wrinkles, pimples, psoriasis, boils, eczema, acne and black spots.
Black cumin seeds can be crushed and mixed with water which is then applied to the affected skin areas. Besides, black cumin oil can also be mixed and heated together for few minutes with jojoba, beeswax or shea butter before using for various purposes such as; clearing wrinkles and as a skin moisturizer.
2. Carminative Purposes
Black seed (Nigella sativa) is carminative in nature thus can be used in preparing herbal medicines for boosting easy digestion of food. The seed also has a soothing effects on the intestines and stomach thus helps to expel unwanted gas from the stomach. Black cumin also aids peristalsis while the black cumin oil is essential for eradicating worms from the intestines.
3. Effects on cardiovascular system
Researchers reveal that consuming black seed or in combination with garlic or honey is effective for treating hypertension. This is attributed to the presence of thymoquinone which was found to reduce the arterial blood processor and heart rates. Another study found out that an oral intake of black cumin extracts produced a significant hypotensive effect in hypertensive rats.
4. Culinary Uses
The spicy black cumin seeds are used for flavouring and spicing up food. Black cumin seeds can also be used for preparing herbal tea by pouring hot water over the seeds, allowing the tea to brew for some minutes before drinking. Black cumin seeds can also be used for preparing soups, casseroles, snacks, salads, breads etc.
5. Anti-diabetic activity
Researchers reveal that cumin is very useful for reducing blood glucose level and for treating diabetes mellitus. Scientific studies carried out on the effect of plant mixture containing cumin proved a glucose reducing effect in rats due to the inhibition of hepatic gluconeogenesis.
6. Anti-cancer Properties
The anticancer properties of cumin seed is due to its ability to change carcinogenic metabolism. Clinical findings reveal that the cumin seeds reduce the risk of liver and stomach tumors in animals. Moreover the antioxidants present in cumin such as limonene and eugenol contain strong anti-tumor properties thus effective against cancerous cells found in colon and breast cancer.
7. Immunomodulatory Properties
Cumin helps to stimulate the antibody formation in the body as well as helps to inhibit white blood cell activities. The presence of all the essential minerals and nutrients in cumin helps to boost our immune system.
8. Treatment of Gastrointestinal Problems
Black cumin can be used for treating several stomach disorders such as flatulence, ascites, diarrhoea and dysentery. It also maintains healthy digestive system.
9. Treatment of Fatigue
Black cumin seed is very good for treating individuals suffering from extreme fatigue. The herbal medicine is made by blending some black cumin seeds and then mixing with some royal jelly before usage.
10. Treatment of Laryngitis
Black cumin is very useful for treating laryngitis which is a health condition caused as a result of the inflammation of the larynx. Laryngitis causes loss of voice and difficulty in breathing.
11. Anti-epileptic activity
Scientific studies reveal that cumin oil reduces seizures caused by maximal electroshock and PTZ in mice. A clinical trial carried out showed that extracellular application of the essential oil of C. cyminum in garden snails greatly reduced epileptic activity incited by pentylenetetrazol.
12. Antihyperlipidemic Properties
Black cumin seed extracts have been proven effective for lowering the lipid level when administered orally. It significantly lowers the lipoprotein level and serum cholesterol. Oral intake of black cumin seeds powder before breakfast between two to three months was found effective in lowering the LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
13. Anti-ulcer Properties
Studies reveal that the aqueous solution of black cumin seed is effective for minimizing the ulcer index caused by Aspirin. The oil also protects against the formation of stress gastritis in hypothyroidal rats.
14. Treatment of Cough
Black cumin seeds can be crushed and mixed with garlic and honey and taken for treating cough, nasal congestion, fever, cold, chest congestion and asthma.
15. Antinociceptive Properties
Oral administration of black cumin oil obtained from Egyptian black cumin seeds has been proven effective against nociceptive responses caused as a result of both chemical, thermal and mechanical nociceptive stimuli in mice. The antinociceptive properties of black cumin seeds oil are attributive to its constituent of thymoquinone.
16. Effects of Cumin on the Reproductive System
Black cumin seeds showed an increase in sperm motility, increased weight of reproductive organs and increased spermatogenesis at primary and secondary spermatocyte within 60 days of clinical trial. Moreover, in terms of fertility, an increased number of female pregnant rats were recorded by the researchers during the experimental trials.
17. Anti-histaminic Properties
Black cumin has a protective effect against histamine due to its carbonyl and thymoquinone content. This suggests why it is widely used in traditional medicines for treating asthma, eczema, spider stings, scorpion stings cat and dog bites.
18. Suitable for Women
Cumin is an excellent source of iron and calcium thus highly recommended for lactating mothers, pregnant women and menstruating women because of their high need for iron and calcium. Cumin also boosts breast milk secretion in newborn women because of its high constituent of Thymol that increases mammary glands secretions. It is preferably taken together with honey.
19. Anti-oxidizing Properties
Black cumin oil contains anti-oxidizing properties due to its possession of polyphenolic compounds, monoterpene alcohols and flavonoids.
20. Appetite Stimulant
Black cumin can be taken to stimulate appetite for individuals with loss of appetite.
21. Menstruation Stimulation
Black cumin stimulates menstruation for women with irregular menstruation.
22. Remedy for Hiccups
The black cumin seeds can be crushed and mixed with butter milk which is then taken as a remedy for hiccups.
23. Antimicrobial Properties
Black cumin contains fatty oil especially petroselic acid, which possesses antimicrobial effects.
24. Relief from Aches
Black cumin seeds are very useful for treating toothaches, joint aches, body aches and headaches.
Studies reveal that cumin seeds are estrogenic in nature and the presence of phytoestrogens in cumin suggests its anti-osteoporotic effects.
26. Stimulating Properties of Cumin
Cumin contains caffeine thus acts as a stimulating agent.
Black cumin extracts possess antiplasmodial activity against plasmodia infections thus effective for inhibiting the parasitic growth of Plasmodium falciparum.
28. Other Uses of Black Cumin
Black cumin can be used for treating jaundice, dropsy, hydrophobia, vomiting, body weight management, piles, amenorrhea, paralysis, conjunctivitis, anorexia, dyspepsia and hemorrhage.
Having read this post, I encourage you to share your views about black cumin in the comment section. Every opinion counts!!!
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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