The prophet Mohammad reportedly said that seeds of the black cumin plant could cure anything but death itself. While that may seem to be quite the tall order, black cumin (Nigella sativa) does in fact have remarkable healing and health properties that make it one of the most powerful medicinal plants known to man.
Black cumin is a part of the buttercup family and the seeds are dark, thin, and crescent-shaped when whole. The seeds have been used for many centuries in the Middle East, the Mediterranean and India. Today, black cumin seeds are used as a seasoning spice in different cuisines across the world due to their nutty flavor. Besides their culinary uses, black cumin seeds also have a wealth of important health benefits and are one of the most cherished medicinal seeds in history.
The seeds of the black cumin plant contain over 100 chemical compounds, including some yet to be identified. In addition to what is believed to be the primary active ingredient, crystalline nigellone, black cumin seeds contain: thymoquinone, beta sitosterol. myristic acid, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, arachidonic acid, protein, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, folic acid, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and phosphorous.
Black cumin seeds have a particularly long and strong history use in Egypt. When archaeologists found and examined the tomb of Egyptian boy-king Tutankhamen (King Tut), they found a bottle of black cumin oil, which suggested that it was believed to be needed in the afterlife.
Physicians to the Egyptian pharaohs frequently used the seeds after extravagant feasts to calm upset stomachs. They also used the seeds to treat headaches, toothaches, colds, and infections. Queen Nefertiti, renowned for her stunning beauty, used black seed oil, likely due to its abilities to strengthen and bring luster to hair and nails.
Hundreds of studies have been conducted on black cumin which have shown that compounds from the seeds help fight diseases by boosting the production of bone marrow, natural interferon, and immune cells.
Several of the studies have shown that black cumin seed extract could assist individuals with autoimmune disorders, and could possibly help to fight cancer. One recent study on black cumin seed oil demonstrated that it was effective against pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest and most difficult to treat cancers.
Black cumin is one of the very few botanicals that have shown such effectiveness (the other most notable one is oleander extract).
One of black cumin's most popular and effective uses is the treatment of diseases related to the respiratory system, including asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism and cold symptoms. The seeds help increase body tone, stimulate menstrual period, and increasing the flow of breast milk in nursing mothers.
Black cumin seed oil helps calm the nervous system, quells colic pain, stimulates urine production, helps treat pertussis, improves digestion and helps prevent and lower high blood pressure.
The seeds are very effective in curing abscesses and tumors of the eye, abdomen and liver, probably due in great part to the anti-tumor compound beta-sitosterol found in the seeds.