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As the evidence
presented in this section will show, it is quite probable that
as medical science increasingly learns more about black seed,
one or more of its more active ingredients may become combined
into a pharmacy prescription for specific conditions. In the
event that this does occur, it is also likely that this
particular extract of black seed will be chemically compounded
and thus become a more potent medicine.
While it may be argued that chemical additives may increase
black seed's effectiveness in treating specific conditions,
the healing principles of black seed in its pure, natural form
should also be taken into account
||Black seed, in its complete,
natural form, acts on the principle of assisting the body's
own natural healing process in overcoming illness or
maintaining health. It works on the part or system of the body
affected without disturbing its natural balance elsewhere.
||The effect of black seed's
combined nutritional and medicinal value is that not only does
it help relieve the current condition at hand, but also helps
the body build further resistance against future ailments or
disease. While historical evidence suggests black seed's
potential use for a wide variety of ailments, we have limited
our descriptions of its primary healing properties here to the
most recent research findings on black se
Black seed is rich in nutritional values.
||Monosaccharides (single molecule sugars)
in the form of glucose, rhamnose, xylose, and arabinose
are found in the black seed.
||The black seed contains a non-starch
polysaccharide component which is a useful source of
||It is rich in fatty acids, particularly
the unsaturated and essential fatty acids (Linoleic and
Linoleic acid). Essential fatty acids cannot be
manufactured by the body alone, and therefore we acquire
these from food.
||Fifteen amino acids make up the protein
content of the black seed, including eight of the nine
essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be
synthesized within our body in sufficient quantities and
are thus required from our diet.
||Black seed contains Arginine which is
essential for infant growth.
||Chemical analysis has further revealed
that the black seed contains carotene, which is
converted by the liver into vitamin A, the vitamin known
for its anti-cancer activity.
|The black seed is also a source of
calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium. Required only in
small amounts by the body, these elements' main function
is to act as essential cofactors in various enzyme
2. Immune system
Studies begun just over a decade ago suggest that if used on
an ongoing basis, black seed can play an important role to
enhance human immunity, particularly in immunocompromise
In 1986, Drs. El-Kadi and Kandil conducted a study with human
volunteers to test the efficiency of black seed as a natural
immune enhancer. The first group of volunteers received black
seed capsules (1 gram twice daily) for four weeks and the
second group were given a placebo. A complete lymphocyte count
carried out in all volunteers before and four weeks after
administration of black seed and the placebo revealed that the
majority of subjects who took black seed displayed a 72%
increase in helper to suppresser T-cells ratio, as well as an
increase in natural killer cell functional activity. The
control group who received the placebo experienced a net
decline in ratio of 7%. They reported, "These findings may be
of great practical significance since a natural immune
enhancer like the black seed could play an important role in
the treatment of cancer, AIDS, and other disease conditions
associated with immune deficiency states."
These results were confirmed by a study published in the Saudi
Pharmaceutical Journal in 1993 by Dr. Basil Ali and his
colleagues from the College of Medicine at Kin Faisal
In the field of AIDS research specifically, tests carried out
by Dr. Haq on human volunteers at the Department of Biological
and Medical Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (1997)
showed that black seed enhanced the ratio between helper
T-cells and suppresser T-cells by 55% with a 30% average
enhancement of the natural killer (NK) cell activity.
Histamine is a substance released by bodily tissues, sometimes
creating allergic reactions and is associated with conditions
such as bronchial asthma.
In 1960, scientists Badr-El-Din and Mahfouz found that dimer
dithymoquinone isolated from black seed's volatile oil, under
the name of "Nigellone," and given by mouth to some patients
suffering from bronchial asthma, suppressed the symptoms of
the condition in the majority of patients.
Following the results of this early study, crystalline
nigellone was administered to children and adults in the
treatment of bronchial asthma with effective results and no
sign of toxicity. It was observed, however, that although
effective, crystalline nigellone displayed a delayed reaction.
In 1993, Nirmal Chakravarty, M.D., conducted a study to see if
this delay could be attributed to the possibility of
crystalline nigellone being an inhibitory agent on histamine.
His hypothesis proved correct. Dr. Chakravarty's study found
that the actual mechanism behind the suppressive effect of
crystalline nigellone on histamine is that crystalline
nigellone inhibits protein kinase C, a substance known to
trigger the release of histamine. In addition, his study
showed that crystalline nigellone decreased the uptake of
calcium in mast cells, which also inhibits histamine release.
The importance of these results are that people who suffer
from bronchial asthma and other allergic diseases may benefit
from taking crystalline nigellone.
A study of black seed's potential anti-tumor principles by the
Amala Research Center in Amala Nagar, Kerala (India) in 1991
lent further impetus to Dr. Chakravarty's suggestion for the
possible use of black seed in the treatment of cancer.
Using an active principle of fatty acids derived from black
seed, studies with Swiss albino mice showed that this active
principle could completely inhibit the development of a common
type of cancer cells called Ehrlich ascites carcinoma (EAC). A
second common type of cancer cells, Dalton's lymphoma ascites
(DLA) cells were also used.
Mice which had received the EAC cells and black seed remained
normal without any tumor formation, illustrating that the
active principle was 100% effective in preventing EAC tumor
Results in mice who received DLA cells and black seed showed
that the active principle had inhibited tumor development by
50% less compared to mice not given the active principle.
The study concluded, "It is evident that the active principle
isolated from nigella sativa seeds is a potent anti-tumor
agent, and the constituent long chain fatty acid may be the
main active component."
In 1989, a report appeared in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmacy
about anti-fungal properties of the volatile oil of black
seed. 1992 saw researchers at the Department of Pharmacy,
University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, conducting a study in which
the antibacterial activity of the volatile oil of black seed
was compared with five antibiotics: ampicillin, tetracycline,
cotrimoxazole, gentamicin, and nalidixic acid.
The oil proved to be more effective against many strains of
bacteria, including those known to be highly resistant to
drugs: V. cholera, E. coli (a common infectious agent found in
undercooked meats), and all strains of Shigella spp., except
Shigella dysentriae. Most strains of Shigella have been shown
to rapidly become resistant to commonly used antibiotics and
In light of the above research findings, it is of interest
that homeopaths have long been known to make a tincture from
the black seed for digestive and bowel complaints.
Traditionally, the black seed is still used to help relieve
vomiting and diarrhea, as well as flatulent colic, and to help
counteract the griping action of purgatives (e.g. certain
laxatives, fruits such as apricots when over consumed).
||As early as 1960, Professor
El-Dakhakny reported that black seed oil has an
anti-inflammatory effect and that it could be useful for
relieving the effects of arthritis.
||1995, a group of scientists
at the Pharmacology Research Laboratories, Department of
Pharmacy, Kings College, Lond, decided to test the
effectiveness of the fixed oil of Nigella sativa and its
derivative, thymoquinine, as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Their study found that the oil inhibited eicosanoid
generation and demonstrated anti-oxidant activity in
||The inhibition of eicasanoid
generation, however, was higher than could be expected
from thymoquinone alone. Their study suggested that
other compounds within the oil might also be responsible
for the enhanced anti-inflammatory reactions in cells.
||The scientists speculated
that the unusual C20:2 unsaturated fatty acids contained
in black seed were possibly responsible for boosting the
||In 1997, studies conducted
at the Microbiological Unit of the Research Center,
College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi
Arabia, found that externally in an ointment form, the
anti-inflammatory activity of the black seed was found
to be in the same range as that of other similar
commercial products. The tests also demonstrated that
the black seed is non-allergenic.
||A study by Agarwhal (1979)
showed that black seed oil increases the milk output of
||A literature search by the
University of Potchefstroom (1989), including biological
abstracts, revealed that black seed's capacity to
increase the milk flow of nursing mothers could be
attributed to a combination of lipid portion and
hormonal structures found in the black seed