We’re learning more and more about the health benefits of oils.
There’s a healing oil that goes back 3,000 years you may hear little about. Or you might get confused about. After all, it’s known by six or seven different names.
That shouldn’t be any surprise once you realize its reputation as a natural remedy spans the globe…
The Persian physician and scholar Avicenna praised its power in his ancient text “the Book of Healing.” And Egyptian kings and queens wouldn’t be caught dead without it (seriously — it was found in their tombs).
For them, it was known as “The Pharaoh’s oil.” But its botanical name is Nigella sativa, and in spite of its beautiful golden color, it’s more commonly known as black seed oil.
You may have gotten a small taste without ever realizing it, since the seeds are often used to flavor curries, pickles and breads. But unlike olive oil, this is one oil with health benefits that go far beyond the kitchen…
What is Nigella sativa?
Black seed oil comes from the seeds of a flowering plant, which is part of the Ranunculacea family (think buttercups) and is native to Arabia, India and even parts of Europe.
In addition to the name “black seed oil,” it’s also known as called:
- Black Caraway
- Black Cumin
- Fennel Flower
- Seed of Blessing
Because stories about its use as a natural remedy have been passed down from generation to generation, the scientific studies that first started looking into why it may possess healing properties go back decades.
Some studies point to an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound — thymoquinone — as the secret ingredients to the oil’s health-promoting qualities.
Here’s just a glimpse of what I’ve come across in reviewing some of that research…
#1 — Cholesterol lowering
Studies have found that Nigella sativa supports healthy levels of cholesterol.
In fact, one study found that just 2 grams per day could help to reduce both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in only 12 weeks in people living with diabetes.
#2 — Supports healthy lung and bronchial function
Another study reported that Nigella sativa or black seed could also help people who have been diagnosed with asthma.
In fact, the scientists found that those who took the supplement had less frequent and severe symptoms, such as wheezing, compared to those who took a placebo.
According to the scientists, the benefits are most likely due to the thymoquinone found in black seed oil — a compound that studies show helps dilate the bronchi of the lungs so that air moves more freely.
#3 — Tamps down inflammation
As you probably know, scientists have now linked chronic inflammation to the major degenerative diseases—coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Could the “golden oil” offer any protection?
Study after study has shown that Nigella sativa supports healthy levels of inflammation throughout the body.
One study found that taking 1,000 mg of the oil for a period of eight weeks resulted in reduced markers of both inflammation and oxidative stress.
And a second study found that the supplement had the power to reduce inflammation even once it was actively induced in the brain and spinal cord of rats.
#4 — Supports a healthy liver
Your liver is another place where Nigella sativa can provide big benefits.
Since your liver is responsible for processing all of the toxins that your body is exposed to on a daily basis, it makes sense that over time, it can sustain injuries.
But multiple studies have shown that black seed helps to limit toxicity to protect the liver against induced damage.
#5 — Helps fight off infection
With cold and flu season practically here, this really excites me…
One investigation found the oil to have therapeutic potential in the treatment of sinusitis due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antihistaminic, immune modulator, antimicrobial and analgesic effects.
So, clearly the pharaohs were onto something with black seed oil.
It’s possible to find high-quality black seed oil suitable for use in the kitchen, but I found very little about its smoke point, which if you’ve read enough about the health benefits of olive oil, you know using an oil at the wrong temperature can burn up its benefits.
Black seed oil is easy to take as a supplement (and some say better on the tummy that way), just like fish oil or flaxseed oil.
If you get as excited as I do about natural plant remedies, you’ll want to give it a try!