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Black Seed - Nigella Sativa

October 2018, posted by Isabelle

Black Cumin seed oil is extracted from the seeds of Nigella sativa, a member of the ranunculus family (Ranunculaceae) which also include among many others, 2 well-known plants to British culture – Buttercup and Clematis. It originates from Southern Europe – Mediterranean countries, North Africa and South west Asia.


It is an annual plant that grows to a height of 20 to 60 cm. It is characterised by finely divided leaves, a tap root (long thick root like dandelion or carrot), light blue or white flowers, tiny black seeds. The plant is undemanding and grows in various types of soil. It reseeds readily and is viewed as weed in some areas.


Black cumin has attracted many common names and is also known as black caraway, Roman coriander, fennel flower or just black seed. None of these are random as the seeds do have an aroma reminiscent to fennel and a taste close to nutmeg although the plant is not related to either.
It is not to be confused with true cumin (cuninum cyminum), black sesame or black pepper, that are seeds from totally different plants.

The seeds and the oil extracted from them have a rich and long history as a successful and highly prized therapeutic aid in the healing of many ailments. It has been viewed for centuries as one of the top remedy in Indian medicine. Islamic traditions consider the seeds as the cure for all ailments except death.

Nigella sativa has been used for the treatment of a variety of disorders, diseases and conditions pertaining to respiratory system, digestive tract, kidney and liver function, cardio vascular system and immune system support, as well as for general well-being.


The oil is called pressed from the tiny black seeds and is greenish in colour.
It is one of the lightest oil, goes very well and quickly into the skin, leaving it smooth very quickly. It does have a light aroma, one that can be described as spicy and warm. The taste is characteristic, reminiscent of cumin with a slight anisidic undertone.

The oil can be used neat, especially on topical application although one would more commonly blend it with either cheaper or other therapeutically specific base oils.


The cold-pressed oil of nigella sativacontains typically myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, proteins and vitamins B1, B2,B3, calcium, folate, iron, copper, zinc and phosphorous.
The oil also contains specific chemical compounds that have been proven deadly to fungus, moulds, bacteria such as MRSA and h pylori.

Most of the pharmacological properties of N. sativa are mainly attributed to quinine constituents, of which thymolquinone and thymolhydroquinone are the most important. These have the subject of intensive research since the 1960s for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Thymol: The active ingredient that gives thyme essential oil its medicinal properties, thymol is a natural monoterpene that holds a number of useful qualities. For example:


The complex synergy of all the compounds found in the cold-pressed oil, extract or essential oil of nigella sativa has been the subject of numerous studies and has proven useful in the treatment of many auto-immune diseases, cancers and super bug infections.

As Aromatherapists we are especially focused on the use of the oil on the skin and the benefits it can bring to soothe, heal or just protect on a daily care routine.
Studies have shown that due to its anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties, nigella sativa is a useful aid and potential healer in cases of eczema, psoriasis, cuts and wounds.

Is a complex inflammatory condition that causes itchy or non-itchy patches on the skin, either dry or oozy. Triggers may come from various reasons including allergens contained in foods, pets, air, chemical irritants, clothing, stress and life style, genetic, micro-organisms or parasites. It is often difficult to isolate the exact reason(s) leaving the sufferer with a condition that can be distressing and cause severe discomfort and pain.
Use neat or add a blend of anti-inflammatory essential oils if desired (1% dilution)
In 100ml bottle
Nigella – 25ml
Jojoba – 20ml
Rosehip – 20 ml
Tamanu – 20 ml
Evening Primrose – 9 ml
Pomegranate – 5 ml

Add if desired
Bergamot – 10 drops
Roman Chamomile – 10 drops
Geranium – 6 drops
Lavender – 4 drops
If normal bergamot is used, please insure that all areas of the bodies where the blend has been applied are covered and not left exposed to sunlight.

There are many oils available that can help reduce the typical signs of aging, oils valuable for their anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties.
Rosehip – 13 ml
Nigella – 12 ml
Tamanu – 10 ml
Evening Primrose – 5 ml
Camelia – 5 ml
Pomegranate – 2 ml
Seabuckthorne – 2 ml

Use neat or add a touch of rose essential oil or absolute.

Protecting the skin against the marks of time starts early in life. It is a lot more difficult to reduce the signs of aging once they have already settled in. It is never too early to start feeding the skin the appropriate fatty acids and anti-oxidants. These will nourish and reinforce the lipid barrier residing in the epidermis. It is this lipid barrier that protects the collagen and helps retain its moisture content, the elasticity and plumpness of the skin.
Below is a blend that can be used as a moisturiser every morning before applying make up and every evening. How much to use depends on personal tastes and the age and type of the skin. The skin should absorb it within minutes. I tend to put a lot more at night as I find that the skin will absorb it all whilst I sleep. It is a time of day when it does not matter if the face looks unaesthetically oily.

In a 50 ml bottles
Jojoba - 15ml
Sesame -10ml
Rosehip -10ml
Avocado – 5ml
Nigella – 5ml
Carrot – 5ml

Use uncented or add the following essential oils (1% dilution)
Frankincense – 5 drops
Neroli – 3 drops
Grapefruit – 5 drops
Jasmine – 2 drops

In a 50 ml bottle
25 ml nigella
24 ml tamanu
Add 6 drops cypress, 6 drops eucalyptus citriadora, 3 drops peppermint


This is not truly the purpose of this article, but it would not be complete without mentioning the potential of this unique plant
Due to the type of anti-oxidants, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory agents it contains, the seeds either as a cold -pressed oil or in various forms of extracts have attracted the interests of many researchers either students or professionals. 100s of studies have been carried out and have exposed the potential of Nigella seeds as a therapeutic aid for many diseases
The research is easily available in many forms and formats. We will only list the areas of activity with the relevant reference links to guide further interests

Asthma & Allergies

Anti fungal & anti bacterial
Studies have also shown that Nigella Sativa was effective against MRSA. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19610522)
A study conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College researchers set out to determine the antimicrobial activity against some of the most challenging superbugs. Out of 144 stains tested, most of which were resistant to various antibiotics, 97 were inhibited by nigella oil.

Eczema, Psoriasis, Cuts and Wounds

Nigella Sativa seeds are carminative, meaning they aid in digestion and may decrease gas, bloating and stomach pain. Black seed oil is often sometimes used in remedies for intestinal parasites.
In preliminary studies, it was also shown to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells with no negative side effects.

Other studies have shown that Thymoquinone, compound found in nigella helps induce the death of cancer cells in patients with many types of cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30087792
leukemia http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/18/9/11219
breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24044882
brain tumor https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767730/
pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, and even oral cancer cells and cavity forming bacteria, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19610522

Due to the thymoquinone content, nigella has also been shown to have a protective effect on the heart https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24191329)
promote healthy cholesterol levels and help normalize blood pressure https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18705755)


Although the seeds in their various forms of extraction have shown incredible potential, please bear in mind that the research referenced here is more often than not developed and based either on laboratory animals (unfortunately) or on isolated chemical trials, where for instance cancer cells have been isolated and exposed directly to the extract being studied.
It does not reflect the action and success rate of nigella sativa on complex human beings, each with a different history and each with his/her own specific needs.
The studies are meant to show the potential and the possibility of using the extract or oil as part of a life style or as a support of an ongoing treatment for a particular condition.
This article does not aim to present nigella sativa as a miracle cure and does not advise to adopt the intake of the oil as a treatment and a replacement for any ongoing therapy.
Check with your health specialist before making any decision as often the compounds in a natural remedy may interfere with the drugs that the patient has been prescribed.