If you stay up on current health trends, you may have noticed that there always seems to be a new darling supplement that gets all the buzz. The latest one to take the spotlight is blackseed oil. But what is it and what are the health benefits?

What Is Black Seed Oil?

Black seed oil is made from the seeds of black cumin (Nigella sativa), a plant with white, blue, or pale purple flowers that is native to Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and the Middle East. For thousands of years black cumin has been grown for its aromatic seeds that have been used as an herbal medicine and a spice for food, like curries, pickles, and bread.

Black seed oil contains the photochemical thymoquinone, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that can help detoxify the body of harmful chemicals known as free radicals in the body—including the potential to reduce tumors.

Black seed oil can be ingested in the form of capsules, or it can be applied topically. It can also be added to shampoos, homemade skincare products, fragrances, and added to massage oils. Food-grade black seed oil can also be utilized for cooking, baking, and even added into beverages. This oil is also commonly called black cumin seed oil. Be careful, as black seed should not be confused with true cumin (Cuminum cyminum), black pepper, black sesame or black cohosh.

So, what are the benefits of black seed oil?

Benefits of Black Seed Oil

While scientific researchers from a variety of disciplines have researched the potential health benefits of black seed oil, it is important to point out that most of the studies have been conducted on cells and animals. However, the studies on black seed oil have shown promising potential for heart and anti-cancer therapeutic potential to humans. Another promising study showed that nigella sativa has the ability to combat superbugs—which are becoming a prominent public health risk. The study, which was conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in India, concluded just how potent black seed oil is against some superbugs and paired it against several antibiotics like amoxicillin, gatifloxacin, and tetracycline. According to the study, “Out of 144 strains tested, most of which were resistant to a number of antibiotics, 97 were inhibited by the oil of black cumin.”

With that said, there is limited research currently available that definitively shows that black seed oil provides benefits to humans.

Research has shown that the thymoquinone in black seed oil can influence a process known as apoptosis that initiates a type of programmed cell death, which is one of the ways the body uses to get rid of abnormal or unneeded cells—like cancerous cells. However, most of these studies have been done on cancer cells and not on humans so researchers are not yet sure how effective black oil seed is to treat cancer in people.

Skin Benefits
Black seed oil may be beneficial to help clear up certain skin conditions like psoriasis, acne, and eczema. It can be used to moisturize the skin and hydrate the hair, although there is an insufficient amount of scientific evidence to conclude these benefits.

Kidney Health
The antioxidant properties of black seed oil show promise in protecting the health of the kidneys. A study conducted in 2019 showed that black seed oil may be helpful at reducing the size of kidney stones and removing them from the body altogether.

Weight Loss
After reviewing 11 studies with humans, it was shown that black seed oil supplements may help reduce body mass index and waist circumference in humans. None of the participants reported any severe side effects from taking black seed oil. Furthermore, a 2021 study involving rats on a high-fat diet showed that black seed oil can help to significantly decrease body weight and insulin resistance.

Wound Healing
While the exact science is not clear, researchers suggest that black seed oil may help to speed up the wound healing process. It is theorized that the inherent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of thymoquinone is the catalyst. Black seed oil seed also can help increase collagen production in the body, which is also a vital part of the body’s natural healing process.

Stomach Issues
The same anti-inflammatory properties of black seed oil that benefit the wound healing process may also alleviate a variety of stomach concerns like bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, constipations, indigestion, and abdominal distention. A few clinical studies showed that black seed oil may even have preventative effects on pancreatitis, colitis, and other gastrointestinal issues. However, more clinical research is necessary to definitively conclude why black seed oil offers these benefits.

Side Effect & Risks

Black seed oil shows some promising signs to be a supplement with great use, by no means does this herb replace medicine. Anyone currently taking prescribed medications or has existing health issues should consult their doctor before taking black seed oil. The same applies to pregnant or breast-feeding women. While serious side effects of black seed oil are rare, when consumed orally side effects such as nausea, bloating, indigestion, low blood sugar, and a burning sensation are possible.

When black seed oil is used topically can cause a severe allergic rash in some. Therefore, before it is applied to the skin, a test patch should be conducted to see if a reaction is triggered. Regardless, black seed oil should be kept away from the eyes, nose, or any other sensitive areas on the body.

Bottom Line

People have utilized black seed oil for anecdotal health benefits for thousands of years, which should not be discounted. However, with that said, more clinical studies are needed to definitively prove the benefits to humans. Black seed oil is available in both capsule form as well as formulations that can be used topically. Anyone considering taking black seed oil should first speak to their doctor to ensure there are no medical or medication interactions before taking this supplement. Furthermore, the FDA does not monitor the safety of herbs, so due diligence is required when seeking a reputable source of black seed oil.