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Nigella sativa: a lot of names, a lot of flavor and a lot curative properties.

Nigella sativa aka Roman coriander, aka black cumin, aka black seed aka love-in-a-mist. So many names for what is generally recognized as a pretty, rapidly spreading flower. Aside from being a pretty plant, the seeds of this flower are both delicious and have incredible health benefits. Slightly floral and a bit cumin-y I have used this seed to top salads, as an ingredient in herbal beer, and sprinkled atop roasted vegetables. I haven't yet tried it on meat, although I think it would pair nicely. I love using herbs and spices not only because they impart a greater depth of flavor to food- but because they often pack incredible health benefits, and Nigella sativa is the perfect example of this.

Nigella sativa has long been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments.

The Prophet Mohammad had described the healing powers of the Black Seeds against a variety of diseases. According to common Islamic and Arabic belief, black cumin is a remedy for all ailments (universal healer). Black Seed is also mentioned as the curative “black cumin” in the Holy Bible and is described as Melanthion by Hippocrates and Dioscorides and as Gith by Pliny.12

The list of ailments that black seed was used as a treatment for is long and there have been numerous scientific studies done to test these claims. Just a few of these clinical trials have shown black seed to be effective in treating the following conditions:

  • Contains the compound thymoquinone which has been shown to be anti-inflammatory,1

  • just two grams daily of black seed could result in reduced fasting blood sugar levels, along with decreased insulin resistance, and increased beta-cell function in the pancreas.2,3

  • an extract from black seed has been shown to possess heart-protective qualities, dampening damages associated with heart attacks and boosting overall heart health.2,4

  • was able to dampen and reverse damage to the brain sparked by lead toxicity.2,5

  • has been shown to reduce cell growth and induce apoptosis (cell death) in breast, brain, oral and colon cancers as well as in leukemia. 2,6,7,8,9,10

  • has been shown to be effective in the treatment of pediatric epilepsy. 2, 11

I was able to find it in the bulk herb section at my local natural food grocery store- but you can also buy it online. It is also extremely easy to grow and readily re-seeds. I am eager to hear how you like to use black cumin!


1. Burits M, Bucar F. Antioxidant activity of Nigella sativa essential oil. Phytother Res Phytotherapy Research. 2000;14(5):323-328. doi:10.1002/1099-1573(200008)14:5<323::aid-ptr621>;2-q.

2. 10 Benefits of Black Seed (Nigella Sativa) - Part 1. Natural Society. Published October 2013. Accessed August 19, 2016.

3. Kim JH, Chang SA. Effect of Diabetes Education Program on Glycemic Control and Self Management for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Korean Diabetes J Korean Diabetes Journal. 2009;33(6):518. doi:10.4093/kdj.2009.33.6.518.

4. Linjawi SAA, Khalil WKB, M.hassanane M, Ahmed ES. Evaluation of the protective effect of Nigella sativa extract and its primary active component thymoquinone against DMBA-induced breast cancer in female rats. Archives of Medical Science aoms. 2015;1:220-229. doi:10.5114/aoms.2013.33329.

5. Radad K, Hassanein K, Al-Shraim M, Moldzio R, Rausch W-D. Thymoquinone ameliorates lead-induced brain damage in Sprague Dawley rats. Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology. 2014;66(1):13-17. doi:10.1016/j.etp.2013.07.002.

6. Woo CC, Hsu A, Kumar AP, Sethi G, Tan KHB. Thymoquinone Inhibits Tumor Growth and Induces Apoptosis in a Breast Cancer Xenograft Mouse Model: The Role of p38 MAPK and ROS. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(10). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075356.

7. Racoma IO, Meisen WH, Wang Q-E, Kaur B, Wani AA. Thymoquinone Inhibits Autophagy and Induces Cathepsin-Mediated, Caspase-Independent Cell Death in Glioblastoma Cells. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(9). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072882.

8. Abdelfadil E, Cheng Y-H, Bau D-T, et al. Thymoquinone Induces Apoptosis in Oral Cancer Cells Through P38β Inhibition. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine Am J Chin Med. 2013;41(03):683-696. doi:10.1142/s0192415x1350047x.

9. Salim EI, Fukushima S. Chemopreventive Potential of Volatile Oil From Black Cumin (Nigella sativa L.) Seeds Against Rat Colon Carcinogenesis. Nutrition and Cancer. 2003;45(2):195-202. doi:10.1207/s15327914nc4502_09.

10. Salim L, Mohan S, Othman R, et al. Thymoquinone Induces Mitochondria-Mediated Apoptosis in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in Vitro. Molecules. 2013;18(9):11219-11240. doi:10.3390/molecules180911219.

11.Akhondian J, Parsa A, Rakhshande H. The effect of Nigella sativa L. (black cumin seed) on intractable pediatric seizures. Med Sci Monit 2007;13:CR555-9.

12. Tariq M. Nigella sativa seeds: Folklore treatment in modern day medicine. Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2008;14(3):105. doi:10.4103/1319-3767.41725.

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