Kalonji Oil (Black Seed): What Is It & Why You Need It
Our planet provides so many wonderful resources for us to use in many ways, from food to medicines and even for cosmetic purposes. Of course, with so many resources, we’re always learning new things about substances we previously thought we knew everything about, and we’re discovering new substances that have been long forgotten since ancient and traditional practices.
With every new discovery we make and every new piece of information we gain, we open the door to new treatments and a healthier lifestyle for all of us to embrace.
What is Black Seed Oil?
Black seed oil is also known as Kalonji oil or black cumin seed oil and is derived from the Nigella Sativa plant which is native to Asia. The extracted oil of the black seeds has been used as a remedy for thousands of years, particularly in the Middle East.
The Nigella sativa shrub is small, with purple, blue, or slightly white flowers. The fruits produced by the shrub have small, black seeds in them that have been used in traditional medicinal and cosmetic practices for several thousand years. The shrub can be found growing in Eastern Europe, western Asia, and the Middle East.
The black seeds produced by the fruit of the Nigella sativa have had significant importance since ancient times, as proven by their presence in King Tut’s tomb. It is thought that the seeds were used for methods of healing and protection. They may also have been used in cooking as a flavoring agent similar to oregano or cumin, added in various recipes for things like bread, curry, or even pickles.
Other than kalonji or black seed oil, the oil may also be referred to as other names, including black caraway, black cumin, or black onion seed. Regardless of the name, however, they all refer to the same oil that has been used throughout history and is only now beginning to regain some of its traditional popularity.
The oil is popularly known for its antioxidant properties and ability to reduce inflammation, both internally and externally. It is also great for treating allergies and common cold or flu-like symptoms.
Most of the traditional popularity of kalonji oil likely actually came from its presence in both Islamic and Christian scriptures. Both of these religious texts have mentioned the use of Kalonji and its many healing or protective benefits.
It seems that Islamic texts have mentioned it more frequently, however, and even the Muslim Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.) once said that the oil could be used as “a cure for everything except death.”
Recent modern research has started to catch on to the old texts and is revealing just how beneficial black cumin seed oil can be to our health.
Up to now, there have been well over 600 peer-reviewed scientific articles related to the benefits of black seed oil ranging from its potential as a cancer treatment to its ability to reduce blood pressure and the symptoms of rheumatism.
Black seed oil is not that well known in the west but simply, it has huge medicinal potential and might well be a healthy, natural and safe alternative to commercial pharmaceutical drugs. As is often the case when looking at natural alternatives, more human clinical trials would be welcome to confirm the promise of animal and laboratory research.
Certain compounds contained in black seed oil have been the subject of most of the studies. Black seed oil’s most active compounds and probably those with the most significant curative potential are thymoquinone and crystalline nigellone but it also contains a number of other useful nutrients and compounds.
Black seed oil has demonstrated an enormous potential to deal with a number of medical complaints, certainly far too many to discuss in a single article; the following are some of its most significant applications.
Nutritional Composition of Kalonji or Black Seed Oil
Nigella sativa and the very useful seeds that the plant provides are filled with healthy and essential nutrients. The medicinal or chemical composition of the seeds of Nigella sativa are as follows: 1.5% volatile oil, 37.5% nonvolatile oil, albumen sugar, organic acids, and glucoside.
Essentially, it is made up of organic acids, sugars, and oils. The term “volatile” refers to “the tendency of a substance to vaporize,” which means that the seeds of Nigella sativa are composed mostly of oils that are unlikely to vaporize.
Nutritionally speaking, the seeds and the oil derived from them contain many essential minerals and other important nutrients, as well. Primarily, the seeds of Nigella sativa are most rich in iron, calcium, potassium, and sodium.
The oil derived from the seeds is also rich in dietary fiber, provided by monosaccharides and non-starch polysaccharides. The monosaccharides in the seeds are glucose, xylose, arabinose, and rhamnose.
Kalonji, or black seed, oil also has a very high concentration of essential and unsaturated fatty acids. There are also fifteen total amino acids found in the oil, and each of those amino acids are essential as the foundations of protein. Arginine and carotene are also found in kalonji oil; arginine helps support and stimulate healthy growth in infants, and carotene helps aid in the creation of vitamin A.
Other essential nutrients found in the oil include crystalline nigellone, thymoquinone, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, myristic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, various proteins, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, iron, calcium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, and folate.
A comedogenic is a score given to any natural substance that is expected to be applied topically to the skin. This score is determined based on a scale that ranges from zero to five, with zero being the least likely to irritate any skin and five being the most likely.
Low-rated substances are dubbed as “non-comedogenic” because they are unlikely to irritate any person’s skin, clog pores, or worsen skin conditions such as acne. With that said, a person who is prone to having irritated skin may still not experience a reaction to a high-rated substance, just as a person who is not prone to irritation might still react poorly to even a low-rated substance.
Kalonji oil, also known as black seed oil, has been given a comedogenic rating of two. This means that it is unlikely to cause any skin irritations or clog your pores, but there is a chance that you may still experience these effects, especially if you are typically prone to having irritated skin or clogged pores.
The low rating given to this oil is likely due to its high amount of linoleic acid (53%), compared to its lower concentration of oleic acid (21%), which typically results in lower comedogenic ratings.
Kalonji or Black Seed Oil Health Benefits
The health benefits of kalonji, or black seed, oil have been well-documented throughout its history, tracing back to its ancient and traditional origins. Out of all of the herbs and oils mentioned in Ayurvedic medicine, kalonji oil was, by far, one of the most important ones.
The seeds of the Nigella sativa plant contain more than one hundred medicinal components, making it one of the most beneficial natural oils in history. Throughout its traditional uses, kalonji oil has been praised for its role as a terrific healer for seemingly all diseases and conditions; in fact, it has since been included in hundreds of research studies for modern medicine.
As a Cancer Treatment
Black seed oil has been extensively researched as a possible cancer treatment. Studies have revealed that one of its main active compounds, thymoquinone, has great potential in cancer treatments.
Many studies have also shown that the oil could have positive effects on fighting the growth of cancerous cells in the colon. Thymoquinone, a compound found in kalonji oil, is similarly beneficial in killing many different types of cancerous cells, including those caused by leukemia, breast cancer, brain tumors, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, or oral cancers. (1) (2) (3)
These studies show that thymoquinone can help to induce cell death or apoptosis in a number of cancerous cells including leukemia, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and cervical cancer. There is a growing body of research that shows thymoquinone reduces the size and the growth of tumors in rats.
To Protect against Adverse effects of Radiotherapy
There is evidence that black seed oil can work as a natural protective guard against the dangers caused by radiation treatment in cancer patients.
For a Healthy Heart
We all want one of these and anything that we can do to achieve good heart health is worth exploring. Black seed oil can benefit your heart in a variety of ways. First of all, black seed oil is a rich source of omega acids which help strengthen the blood vessels and protect against arterial damage.
Research has also demonstrated that black seed oil can significantly reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Thymoquinone has been shown to help protect the heart and assist in normalizing cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
A study conducted in 2008 concluded that over a period of 2 months, black seed oil taken daily had significantly positive effects on both cholesterol and blood pressure levels in patients with mild hypertension. (4)
To treat Type 2 Diabetes
Nigella sativa has traditionally been used in Morocco and Jordan to treat diabetes as well as hypertension. Several pieces of research have confirmed that black seed oil helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels in diabetics while also stimulating pancreatic function.
Both animal and human trials have discovered its potential in treating type 2 diabetes. (5) Results however have been mixed with some trials not demonstrating that black seed oil has any significant effect.
However, the results of one study published in 2011 were very promising. The research was conducted to examine the anti-diabetic effects of black seed oil. The researchers found that the oil had significant positive effects. According to the researchers :
Black seed oil …. “Causes gradual partial regeneration of pancreatic beta-cells, increases the lowered serum insulin concentrations and decreases the elevated serum glucose.”
The study also concluded that black seed oil improved glucose tolerance just as effectively as metformin – a common prescription medication for diabetes. However, unlike metformin, black seed oil is not associated with any adverse side effects. (6)
Thanks to the many essential nutrients contained within the oil, kalonji oil provides many significant health benefits. Many studies have shown that the oil has antiasthmatic properties that could help treat the condition, depending on how it was caused.
This beneficial property could also help relieve symptoms for those who suffer from allergies. There is potentially good news for the millions of worldwide asthmatics. The incidence of asthma is rising and it is a difficult complaint to treat. Certain African and Asian cultures have been using black cumin seed oil to ease respiratory complaints for many centuries.
One of the main constituents of black seed oil is nigellone which helps relieve the breathing difficulties of asthmatics by dilating the bronchial tubes. Many asthmatics claim that they can either stop using their inhalers or at least reduce their use after being treated with black seed oil.
Researchers discovered the anti-inflammatory properties of black seed oil as long ago as the 1960s and immediately recognized its potential to treat rheumatism and similar conditions. In 1995, researchers at Kings College London confirmed that black seed oil could be an effective treatment in the battle against the painful symptoms of rheumatism.
Several studies since that time have confirmed its anti-inflammatory properties making black seed oil a potentially safe and healthy alternative to conventional rheumatism drugs. (7)
For the Immune System
Your immune system can be weakened by a number of factors including age, diet, stress, and alcohol. A weak immune system means that we are more prone to illness and attack from unwanted foreign invaders.
There is ample evidence that black cumin seed oil helps to boost our immune system keeping us fit and healthy. One study concluded that black seed oil taken daily could play a significant role in protecting us against diseases linked to the immune system such as cancer and HIV.
The antioxidants, B vitamins, and healthy acids found in the oil work to support the immune system. With that said, it doesn’t compromise or overstimulate the system like many oils do; instead, it balances out the immune system to support healthy functioning.
Because the seeds are carminative, kalonji oil can also improve digestion and help relieve gas, bloating, or other stomach issues. The oil is also sometimes used when treating parasites that have been found in the intestines.
For Liver Health
By now, we are all aware of the importance of a healthy liver. Besides the heart, it is considered to be the most important organ in our bodies. And rightly so, the liver is involved in nearly every bodily function and is vital in keeping our bodies free from hazardous toxins.
A healthy liver means a healthy body which means a healthy mind. A poorly functioning liver will have widespread detrimental effects on your well-being and researchers have recently revealed that black seed oil improves liver function and also helps to prevent damage and disease. The research carried out on rats in 2013 demonstrated that both liver and kidney disease could be treated with black seed oil and that it warranted further, more extensive trials in the future. (8)
Black cumin seed oil exhibits potent antibacterial qualities which might help in the battle against superbugs which are increasingly unresponsive to antibiotic treatment. Scientists in Pakistan discovered that several strains of the MRSA superbug exhibited a sensitivity to black seed oil which makes it a promising candidate to prevent future outbreaks of the disease. (9)
Research conducted in Germany found that black cumin seed was more effective against certain bacteria such as E.Coli and V.Cholera than many popular antibiotics. Studies have also proven the oil as effective in treating patients who had Helicobacter pylori or MRSA.
Similarly, the oil has also been proven to have positive results in fighting candida and other fungal infections that are found either on the skin or inside the body.
For the Skin
There is some evidence that black seed oil can even have a positive cosmetic effect on your body. Possibly due to its antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities, black seed oil is said to restore follicle strength and prevent hair damage and loss. Researchers have also discovered that black seed oil could be beneficial to your skin in general as well as used to treat certain skin complaints such as eczema. (10)
As many oils typically do, kalonji oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that could be what helps treat irritated skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. The oil could also help encourage quick and efficient healing of the skin from these conditions, as well as from things like wounds, scars, or other blemishes.
As well as boosting your skin’s health and appearance, black seed oil can also benefit your hair. It contains a substance called nigellone which studies have found can help prevent hair loss. It may be especially useful for people suffering with alopecia.
It is also a great source of antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which can help boost the scalp’s health and protect against common scalp trouble like dandruff and irritation.
The claims that black seed oil can also help people to lose some weight is gaining some scientific backing. A study published in 2013 reviewed all the available literature on plants with anti obesity properties and found that black seed oil was one of the very best natural remedies for obesity in the natural world. (11)
Another review published very recently in 2018 looked at the findings of 11 placebo controlled trials. The review concluded that black seed oil could indeed help reduce body weight. Supplementing with black seed oil also decreased BMI and helped reduce waist circumference. No adverse effects of supplementation was reported in any of the studies. (12)
Black seed oil may also help boost fertility in men with fertility issues. One study looked at the effects of black seed oil supplements on infertile men with abnormal sperm. The subjects tool 2.5 ml of the oil twice each day for a two-month period. The results of the study were very promising with the group who took the oil having an increased sperm count as well as improved sperm motility and volume of semen. (13)
The bottom line is that black seed oil is a wonderful healthy product with a massive range of health applications deserving of several more articles.
How Should I take it?
If you have been convinced to go out and purchase a bottle of this wonderful oil, you might be wondering how and in what dose to use it. Make sure that you buy real black cumin oil. It should be organic and completely free of additives.
- Taking black seed oil daily will help your general health.
- Many experts recommend taking a teaspoon of black seed oil twice a day for its medicinal benefits.
- You can eat it raw, add a teaspoon to your salad or mix it with a good quality honey such as manuka honey for additional health benefits.
- It can be added to other products like face and body creams for skin health.
Advice and Potential Side Effects when Using Kalonji Oil
If you plan on using kalonji oil, otherwise known as black seed oil, it’s important for you to keep a few things in mind. While the oil itself is not known to have many negative side effects, oils that have not been processed correctly could cause problems, especially if you are prone to sensitivity. Because of this, it’s important that you always be careful and only purchase your oils from reliable sources.
Always make sure you purchase organic oils that have not been through any chemical processing. The oils you purchase should be pure and not mixed in with any additives or diluting substances. Often, additives will be included to make the oil last longer, but this isn’t necessary.
To keep your pure, organic oils from going rancid before you have a chance to use them, keep them stored in a cool, dark place in between uses.
If you are attempting to use kalonji oil to treat any serious health condition, you should seek advice from your doctor first. There may be a chance that the health benefits provided by this oil could interfere with the benefits of a medication you may have already been prescribed to take.
A doctor would be able to better advise you on whether or not it is suitable for you to use the oil. A holistic health practitioner may also be able to help you determine the proper dosage and application methods to experience the best results.