Black cumin seed - benefits, doseage, side-effects

Black cumin seed - benefits, doseage, side-effects

Black cumin seed has a wealth of therapeutic benefits in research; it comes from two different plants; Nigella sativa is the more common, also called caraway, and its black seeds possess three powerful ingredients, especially Thymoquinone.

Black Cumin Seed is one of the three most important Ayurvedic herbs, and its use is common throughout India and Asia. Unfortunately, just to confuse things, there is a second plant with very similar properties also found in the Middle East, but the growth regions of the two overlap:

  • Nigella sativa, with small black seeds and also known as caraway, is more common in the Far East, Mideast, Bangladesh, India and Africa.

  • Elwendia persica, is also called black cumin but the seeds resemble tiny caterpillars. This is more common in the Middle East and this cumin is mentioned in the bible, and as long ago as use by the Pharaohs. 


Both are similar spices. The former is more usually the Black Cumin seed that people refer to. It has three principal active ingredients:


   i) Thymoquinone - antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

   ii) Thymohydroquinone - inhibits acetylcholinesterase - helpful in neurological


   iii) Thymol - antibacterial and antifungal


Black cumin seed contains other active chemicals, including alkaloids and saponins, (carvone, limonine, nigellidine, nigellicine, nigellicimine and others) and fatty acids (linoleic acid and oleic acid), as well as nutrients like folate, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, proteins, and essential amino acids.


Nigella sativa is sometimes called cinnamon flower or nutmeg flower; It belongs to the family Ranunculaceae and is an annual herbaceous flowering plant, growing to a height of 20–30 cm having fruit with small black seeds. Black cumin, also called Haba al-Barakah or miracle herb, was viewed by ancient herbalists as “The herb from heaven” and the Prophet Mohammad once stated, “This black cumin is healing for all diseases except death”. 


Black cumin seed is used for a variety of illnesses and has a great deal of research to support it. 


General Health Benefits of Black Cumin Seed


Let’s try to keep this simple! Black cumin seed …


  1. Has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and auto-immune benefits (1)

  2. Can kill certain pathogens, like Helicobacter pylori, microbes and yeasts. Research results on H. pylori were comparable with the orthodox triple drug route (2) 

  3. Can regulate LDL cholesterol and promote HDL levels (3).

  4. Can reduce Hypertension (4)

  5. Can regulate blood sugar and improve conditions for Diabetics (5)

  6. Is an immune booster and can stop the growth of cancer tumours (6)

  7. Can decelerate effects of Covid-19 (7)

  8. Can help lower liver toxicity, ALT, AST, GSSG and MDA during chemotherapy (8)


It can be an effective yeast killer in the body and can be mixed with raw honey and used as an antiviral.


Health benefits in cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and Fatty Liver Disease


As an example of the wealth of research, in a 2021 Study (8), it states that BCS contains β-sitosterol along with stigmasterol, and that the high levels of sterol make it excellent at lowering cholesterol and heart diseases.


Nineteen polyphenols were identified in BCS, including kaempferol, known to be linked to lowered atherosclerosis through prevention of oxidative damage; and quercetin, which can protect against osteoporosis. 


Several research studies show black cumin and its bioactive ingredient can protect the integrity of the liver and prevent and reduce fatty liver disease - thymoquinone, thymol, and α-hederin were shown to inhibit lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress, producing a protective increase in antioxidant enzymes and total thiol and GSH levels, with a reduction in fat accumulation and lowered inflammation of the liver.


Anti-cancer effects of Black Cumin Seed oil


There is a 2014 overview of Thymoquinone effects with cancer (9). Two studies in 1997 and 1998, one by Medenica in South Carolina, Immuno-Biology Research Laboratory and the other by Worthen, both showed that the seeds inhibited tumour growth and the blood supply growth necessary for a tumour to form.


Thymoquinone has multiple anticancer properties. Research in 1991 by Nair showed extracts from the seeds to be toxic to cancer cells and there are several studies in vitro and in vivo on its multiple ways of fighting breast cancer. For example, the antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects of thymoquinone were shown in breast tumour xenograft mice where TQ reduced tumour size; and this active ingredient increased the antitumor effect of doxorubicin (10). TQ also degrades tubulin in cancer cells; it has a strong beneficial effect in metastatic melanoma, and it induced caspase-dependent apoptosis and inhibited autophagy of glioblastoma cells.


Beyond breast cancer and GBM, there are also multiple research studies with each of leukaemia, pancreatic, colorectal, prostate, cervical and lung cancers. For example with the prostate, BCS can reduce swelling and the PSA level


A 2018 review of research (11)  on the anticancer power of thymoquinone showed benefits including promotion of apoptosis, arrest of cell cycle and ROS generation. It has also been shown to control angiogenesis and cancer metastasis.  


To quote: “Thymoquinone induces apoptosis, regulates the levels of pro- and anti- apoptotic genes. It also has been known to lower the phosphorylation of NF-κB and IKKα/β and reduce the metastasis as well as also lowering the ERK1/2 and PI3K activities. Thymoquinone inhibits metastasis through activation of JNK and p38. The use of this compound as diet-based therapy has shown it to be a new pharmacological agent against several types of cancers”.


Recommended dosage Black Cumin Seed


People with cancer tend to take 3 teaspoons per day. OR … 2 teaspoons  of Black Cumin seed powder and 1teasppon of raw honey.


Side-effects - Black Cumin Seed


You should really not take this if you are pregnant (it can promote contractions); if you take too much it can cause drowsiness, light-headedness, and it does have helpful gastro-intestinal effects, but you might have short-term diarrhoea or constipation.


Go to: 10 ways to reduce your PSA






  1. Review on Clinical Trials of Black Seed (Nigella sativa ) and Its Active Constituent, Thymoquinone; J Pharmacopuncture; 2017 Sep;20(3):179-193.  doi: 10.3831/KPI.2017.20.021. Epub 2017 Sep 30. 

  2. Comparative Study of Nigella sativa and Triple Therapy in Eradication of Helicobacter pylori in Patients with Non-Ulcer Dyspepsia; Saudi J Gastroenterol; 2010 Jul; 16(3): 207–214; 

  3. Effect of Nigella sativa (kalonji) on serum cholesterol of albino rats; J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad; Apr-Jun 2005;17(2):72-4. 

  4. Antihypertensive effect of Nigella sativa seed extract in patients with mild hypertension; Fundam Clin Pharmacol; 2008 Aug;22(4):447-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-8206.2008.00607; . 

  5. Antidiabetic Activity of Nigella Sativa (Black Seeds) and Its Active Constituent (Thymoquinone): A Review of Human and Experimental Animal Studies; Chonnam Med J, 2021 Sep; 57(3): 169–175 - 

  6. Antitumor and anti-angiogenesis effects of thymoquinone on osteosarcoma through the NF-κB pathway; Oncol reports; 2013 Feb;29(2):571-8.  doi: 10.3892/or.2012.2165.  Epub 2012 Dec 4. 

  7. Potential influence of Nagella sativa (Black cumin) in reinforcing immune system: A hope to decelerate the COVID-19 pandemic; Phytomedicine 2021;

  8. Black Cumin (Nigella sativa L.): A Comprehensive Review on Phytochemistry, Health Benefits, Molecular Pharmacology, and Safety; Nutrients,  2021 Jun; 13(6): 1784; 

  9. Thymoquinone: an emerging natural drug with a wide range of medical applications;

  10. Woo CC, Hsu A, Kumar AP, Sethi G, Tan KH. Thymoquinone inhibits tumor growth and induces apoptosis in a breast cancer xenograft mouse model: the role of p38 MAPK and ROS. PLoS One. 2013;8:e75356  

  11. Thymoquinone: A novel strategy to combat cancer: Biomed Pharmacother; A review; 2018 Oct;106:390-402.  doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.06.159. Epub 2018 Jul 11.



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