What is Black Seed?
Black seed is a flowering plant which is grown in the Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries and its seeds have been used for thousand of years for the treatment of many disease. It is also known as Nigella Sativa or black cumin in English. In Urdu, Hindi and some other Asian languages it is known as Kalonji while in Arabic it is called “Haba al-Bararakah”. Apart from the healing abilities, its seeds are also used in cooking recipes and roti, naan or bread in the Middle East and Asian countries.
Nigella sativa is an indigenous plant to Mediterranean but it is also grown in other parts of the world such as Arabia, Asia and Africa. It is some times mistaken with the fennel herb plant. Fennel herb and fennel flower plants are two different plants; the latter is the black seed. It should also be not mistaken with onion seed, kitchen cumin and coriander. The flowers are bluish purple or white and the plant grows to the height between 12 to `18 inches.
Used by Romans, Muslims and non-Muslims
Black seed has been used for thousands of years both by Muslims and Non-Muslims for many diseases. It is traced to 3000 years back in the Roman empire and was found in King Tut’s tomb. Greek and Egyptian civilizations are also known to have used the seed since the ancient times.
“Narrated Abu Hurairah ” I heard Allah’s Apostle saying “Use this Black seed; it has a cure for every desiease except death.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Hippocrates, the father of medicines, also used Nigella sativa as a potential remedy for hepatic and digestive disorders. Greek physicians Dioscorides also recommended it for several ailments such as nasal congestion, toothaches, intestinal worms and headaches.
Mentioned in the Bible
Black seed has been referenced in the Bible in the Old Testament. It has been referred to as Ketzah which in Hebrew means black cumin.
“For the black cumin is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over the cumin, but the black cumin is beaten out with a stick, and the cumin with a rod.” (Isaiah 28:25, 27 NKJV)
Black Cumin Seed Used by Muslims
Abu Huraira reported that he heard Allah’s Messenger as saying (nearest meaning): The black seed is a remedy for every disease except death.
Narrated Khalid bin Sa’d :We went out and Ghalib bin Abjar was accompanying us. He fell ill on the way and when we arrived at Medina he was still sick. Ibn Abi ‘Atiq came to visit him and said to us, “Treat him with the black seed. Take five or seven seeds and crush them (mix the powder with oil) and drop the resulting mixture into both nostrils, for ‘Aisha has narrated to me that she heard the Prophet saying, ‘This black seed is healing for all diseases except As-Sam.’ ‘Aisha said, ‘What is As-Sam?’ He said, ‘Death.’ ” (Bukhari)
The Muslims believe that the Prophpet (peace be upon him) never lied. He did not speak of his own self. He spoke what Allah revealed to him or inspired him. Muslim believe in the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) more than anything else. It, therefore, became very popular among the Muslim lands. The amazing results it has shown for any diseases under than Sun, its use has spread to non-Muslims lands as well. Many people in the West use it and have found the herb to be very effective against several diseases. I have heard non-Muslims buying it from Muslim shops irrespective of their belief, BECAUSE IT WORKS!
Was the black seed known before the Prophet?
In old times, most medicine was herbal. It is said that 400 herbs were used before the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as medicines for a wide range of diseases. Galen and Hippocrates were the famous medicinal experts before the time of the prophet. Although, black seed was used as a medicine in the ancient times, it became popular only when the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised its use. As mentioned earlier, the reason for popularity is the Muslim believe in whatever the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him ) said.
Black seed and infections: Anti-bacterial
Experts at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh conducted a study in 1997 in which they compared the anti bacterial effects of black seed with the effects of 5 anti-biotics. The five antibiotics were nalidixic acid, gentamicin, cotrimoxazole, ampicillin and tetracycline. The researchers concluded, the black seed was more effective than the anti-biotics against bacteria such as V.Cholera and E.Coli. The German scientists also confirmed the antibacterial properties of black seed.
A List of 50 Conditions that Black Seed Can Help With
I have listed here the most common conditions that research and people report that black seed can help. You may be wondering how can it help in all these different diseases and conditions? This list is not exhaustive. It can cure any disease under the sun. The principle is simple. It makes the immune system stronger. The stronger the immune system, better is the health because a stronger immune system enables the body to fight against diseases and maintain the body in good working condition. Please note this list is for information purposes only and you must consult your qualified and licensed health professional before taking a remedy.
- Joint Pains
- Muscle Pains
- Aching Limbs
- Back Ache
- Nasal Congestion
- Chest Congestion
- Weak Hair
- General Pains
- Sore Throat
- Gum infections
- Gum Bleeding
- Bladder infection
- Weight Loss
- Blood Pressure
- Heart Burn
- Intestinal Parasites
- Hypertension & depression
- Lack of concentration
- Hay Fever
- Sexual Weakness
Which should be Taken, Oil or Seeds?
Some people recommend oil while others recommend seeds. Those who recommend oil view that it contains all the beneficial components without the unnecessary materials and acts faster than the whole black seed. While those who recommend the black seed argue that during the oil extraction process, some of the beneficial components are lost.
The Nutrients in Black Seed
It contains more than one hundred beneficial nutrients. It contains 35% fats or oils, 38% carbohydrates and 21% protein.
- Thymoquinine (TQ) (mainly in essential oil)
- Dithymoquinone (DTQ) (nigellone)
- Thymol (THY)
- Thymohydroquinone (THQ)
- Alpha-hederin, a triterpene saponin in the seeds
- Monosaccharides (glucose, rhamnose, xylose, arabinose)
- Unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid, oleic acids (in fixed oil)
Fatty Acid Analysis
- 56% linoleic acid
- 24.6% oleic acid
- 12% palmitic acid
- 3% stearic acid
- 2.5% eicosadienoic acid
- 0.7% linolenic acid
- 0.16% myristic acid.
There are nine essential amino acids, eight of which are present in Black seed. It is rich in linolenic acid, linoleic, potassium, sodium, iron, calcium and carotene.
The famous Muslim scholar al-Biruni composed a treatise on the early origins of Indian and Chinese drugs mentioned it in his writings. Ibni Sina (980-1037) who was the contemporary of al-Biruni also mentioned it in his landmark book called “the Canon of Medicine”.
How does black seed work?
Infections caused by micro organisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi are the major reasons of ill health. Clinical medical methods of treatment is to cure the symptoms by administering synthetic and chemically manufactured products which may contain harmful ingredients. Black seed, on the other hand, boosts the over all well being and immunity of the system. When the natural immunity is strong, it has the capability to fight against bacterial and viral infections and thus defend the body from diseases. Once this defense system becomes weaker, it is difficult for the body to cope with the attacks from various micro organisms. The consequence is frequent diseases and ailments. Black seed keeps the defense system strong on account of the micro nutrients and keeps the body ready to fight infections.
How much should it be taken?
It is always recommended to take the dose under the guidance of an expert and according to the ailment. Generally, experts advise that it should not be taken in large quantities. A maximum of two table teaspoon a day of the oil or 500 mg of black seed is considered to be the right dose. In a study which was conducted in Munich, 600 patients who suffered from allergy were given 500 mg of black seed for 3 months. The success rate was found to be 85%.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Excess of everything is bad. According to the general saying of medical practitioners a small dose of poison is medicine while a big dose of medicine is poison. What that means is that every medication should be taken in the right dose. A small dose may not benefit but it does not harm but an overdose definitely may pose a risk. It is always better to eat a small dose. A general recommendation is seven small seeds crushed or one teaspoon of black seed oil.
Generally black seed have not side effects. However, a few things must be taken into account before taking the oil or the seed. If you are taking any alternative or herbal medicine, it is always recommended to consult with your doctor especially if your condition needs medical attention. Pregnant woman should also consult their doctors before taking any black seed remedies. According to Mission Islam, Asma Rice, writes in her detailed article on black seed that many Muslim ladies take it during their pregnancy without any problem. She confirms to have taken the remedy herself during all her pregnancies without any side effects. However, it is recommended to talk to your professional medical care provider before taking black seed or its oil during pregnancy.
- Herbalist recommend not take black seed on full stomach immediately after meals. They recommend to take it half an hour before meal. However, I have seen people taking it after meal for digestive purposes.
- Do not overdose. Eating in large quantities does not mean healing faster. The maximum recommended by most herbalist is 2 teaspoon a day.
- If you unsure above the right dose and the right time, talk to a qualified herbalist about your condition. This may help in prescribing the right dose according to your condition.
- As a general course of prudence, discuss with your doctor before taking any home remedies.