Black seed

Last Updated: September 28 2022

Nigella sativa (black cumin or black seed) is a medicinal spice that appears to be active in the dose used to season food products. It has a potent bioactive known as thymoquinone which shows promise in treating epilepsy, allergies, and boosting immunity.

Black seed is most often used for


When looking at the human evidence in particular, nigella sativa appears to have a general health protective effect of a very small magnitude. It is able to reduce triglycerides and glucose when elevated and can normalize cholesterol metabolism (although not HDL-C) as well, but the amount of benefit it confers is too small for it to be considered a good intervention. It's also modestly effective as a general anti-inflammatory agent and may be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Nigella sativa shows more promise as an immune booster (no evidence on rates of sickness, but it seems to increase the ability of macrophages to attack invaders) and an anti-allergic compound (with efficacy against allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema). One study that used nigella sativa alongside a proton pump inhibitor noted that the seed extract was potently anti-bacterial against helicobacter pylori with a comparable potency to the reference drugs used.

Lastly, in men with central obesity, the seeds were noted to greatly improve symptoms of obesity, such as loss of libido, forgetfulness, high appetite, aches and arthalgia, sleeplessness, and laziness. But further evidence is needed to confirm these effects.

What else is Black seed known as?
Note that Black seed is also known as:
  • Nigella Cretica
  • Black Cumin
  • Black Seeds
  • Roman Coriander
  • Nutmeg Flower
  • Fennel Flower
  • Ajaji
  • Nigella Sativa
Black seed should not be confused with:
Dosage information

Studies generally have the participants supplement with the seeds of nigella sativa, either a seed extract (a crushed powder of the seeds with no further processing or concentration) or seed oil, in the form of a capsule. The most common dosage is 1–3 grams per day.

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3.^Ahmad A, Husain A, Mujeeb M, Khan SA, Najmi AK, Siddique NA, Damanhouri ZA, Anwar F, Kishore KA review on therapeutic potential of Nigella sativa: A miracle herbAsian Pac J Trop Biomed.(2013 May)
4.^Ali BH, Blunden GPharmacological and toxicological properties of Nigella sativaPhytother Res.(2003 Apr)
5.^Işik H, Cevikbaş A, Gürer US, Kiran B, Uresin Y, Rayaman P, Rayaman E, Gürbüz B, Büyüköztürk SPotential adjuvant effects of Nigella sativa seeds to improve specific immunotherapy in allergic rhinitis patientsMed Princ Pract.(2010)
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14.^Keyhanmanesh R, Bagban H, Nazemieh H, Mirzaei Bavil F, Alipour MRThe main relaxant constituents of nigella sativa methanolic fraction on Guinea pig tracheal chainsIran J Allergy Asthma Immunol.(2013 May 15)
16.^Ali Z, Ferreira D, Carvalho P, Avery MA, Khan IANigellidine-4-O-sulfite, the first sulfated indazole-type alkaloid from the seeds of Nigella sativaJ Nat Prod.(2008 Jun)
17.^Morikawa T, Xu F, Kashima Y, Matsuda H, Ninomiya K, Yoshikawa MNovel dolabellane-type diterpene alkaloids with lipid metabolism promoting activities from the seeds of Nigella sativaOrg Lett.(2004 Mar 18)
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23.^Gali-Muhtasib H, Roessner A, Schneider-Stock RThymoquinone: a promising anti-cancer drug from natural sourcesInt J Biochem Cell Biol.(2006)
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30.^Al-Jenoobi FI, Al-Thukair AA, Abbas FA, Ansari MJ, Alkharfy KM, Al-Mohizea AM, Al-Suwayeh SA, Jamil SEffect of black seed on dextromethorphan O- and N-demethylation in human liver microsomes and healthy human subjectsDrug Metab Lett.(2010 Jan)
31.^Alkharfy KM, Al-Jenoobi FI, Alam MA, Al-Mohizea AM, Al-Suwayeh SA, Korashy HM, Khan RM, Muzaffar ILepidium Sativum but not Nigella sativa Affects Carbamazepine Disposition in an Animal ModelDrug Metab Lett.(2013 Aug 16)
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42.^Benhaddou-Andaloussi A, Martineau L, Vuong T, Meddah B, Madiraju P, Settaf A, Haddad PSThe In Vivo Antidiabetic Activity of Nigella sativa Is Mediated through Activation of the AMPK Pathway and Increased Muscle Glut4 ContentEvid Based Complement Alternat Med.(2011)
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57.^Al-Ghamdi MSThe an