For centuries, we're talking as far back as the ancient Egyptians and King Tut, people have relied on black seed oil to facilitate weight loss, treat skin afflictions, and more. Modern scientific analysis confirms that black seed oil benefits are numerous and quite impressive. Here’s what you should know about the health-promoting effects of black seed oil, as well as our favorite way to enjoy it.
What Is Black Seed Oil?
Black seed oil, also called black cumin seed oil, Kalonji Oil, Nigella sativa oil, or black caraway, comes from Nigella sativa, a small plant with pale, delicate flowers that grows indigenously in Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and parts of the Middle East.
Nigella sativa seeds have long been used as a natural medicinal for a variety of health conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and other metabolic disorders. Oh, and they also make lovely, potent additions to curries, pickles, and breads.
Black seed oil contains antioxidants, fatty acids, and several active compounds, including thymoquinone, thymohydroquinone, thymol, carvacrol, alphahederin, dithymoquinone, nigellimine, nigellicine, and nigellidine. Reports indicate it can positively influence the function of multiple organs in the human body and even help boost the immune system. Studies show that thymoquinone, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, has especially impressive properties, including spurring the death of cancer cells.
Black seed oil can be ingested in capsule or tincture form, applied topically, or added to shampoos and skincare products. High-quality black seed oil can be used for cooking, baking, and other culinary purposes too.
Exciting Black Seed Oil Benefits
Studies show black seed oil has a range of benefits. Here we’ll be focusing on benefits for weight loss and skin health, as well as touching on black seed oil for hair.
It’s important to note up front that much of the research done on the effects of Nigella sativa to date has been carried out in vitro (meaning done in test tubes or laboratory dishes) or using animals like rats and mice. Whenever possible, we highlighted research done with human participants. That said, here’s what we know so far about black seed oil for weight loss and skin health, plus a quick note about how black seed oil may hydrate your hair.
Black Seed Oil for Weight Loss
According to a study published in 2018, black seed oil can be used as a natural weight-loss aid. The authors found that supplementing with black seed oil led to significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference. They also noted that there were no indications of serious side effects.
Prior to that, a systematic review published in 2013 suggested weight-loss benefits that merited further investigation, especially since black seed oil also has antioxidant properties that can help treat the diseases that often accompany obesity. Specifically, a 2010 study on men ages 30-45 years old showed that over the course of 3 months black seed oil contributed to significant weight loss, decreased waist circumference, and a reduction in fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol.
Black Seed Oil for Skin Health
Anecdotal evidence about black seed oil health benefits for your skin are quite compelling. So far, researchers have looked at its ability to treat acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and it appears to be effective due to its antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties.
One study that looked at the benefits of black seed oil found that it can successfully treat acne vulgaris, the most common chronic inflammatory disease of the skin. Many conventional acne treatments leave much to be desired, but participants who tried black seed oil found that its anti-inflammatory effects led to a marked reduction in lesions, and most rated it as either a good or moderately good treatment option.
A 2012 study done with mice found that seed extracts of Nigella sativa can be a valuable treatment for psoriasis. Black seed oil has historically been used as a natural remedy for psoriasis, and the results of this study indicate there’s a clear scientific basis for why it works.
And according to a randomized, controlled, double-blind clinical trial published in 2013, topical use of black seed oil can treat eczema on the hands as effectively as betamethasone, a prescription medication.
Black Seed Oil for Hair Hydration
Though scientific evidence has yet to confirm this, many individuals claim that black seed essential oil can hydrate dry hair, speed hair growth, and even increase hair thickness and encourage hair to grow in bald spots.
The Facts on Black Seed Oil Side Effects
In most instances, black seed oil has been found to have either no side effects or very mild side effects. In very rare instances, it has been shown to cause an allergic reaction when used topically. Overall, black seed oil has a very low level of toxicity and can be considered safe for use by most people. If you’re taking any prescription medications, it’s best to speak with your prescribing health care professional before trying an herbal remedy like black seed oil.
Our Favorite Way to Enjoy Black Seed Oil Benefits
The seeds of the Nigella plant have a distinctive flavor that some welcome for the aromatic warmth it brings. Others, however, find it unpleasantly pungent. If you’re interested in trying black seed oil but worried about the taste, we have a wonderful solution for you: use black seed oil as a smoothie booster. While the flavor is strong, when combined with tasty fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients, you’ll find you may not even notice it. We think it would make a lovely addition to our Beet Dragon Smoothie or our Power Coffee Breakfast Shake.