Nigella sativa grows in Southwest Asia, the Middle East and Southern Europe. It produces fruit with black seeds, which, although called black seeds, are also called black cumin, black cumin, niello, fennel flower, and Roman coriander. The oil obtained from these seeds has been used in traditional medicine for over 2000 years. Black cumin oil is believed to have a number of properties that may provide health benefits, as detailed in Health Promotion Activities with Nigella sativa Fixed Oil (2). Best of them: anti-inflammatory effects. According to the authors, the oil contains thymoquinone, a compound that plays a vital role in the anti-inflammatory process. It prevents inflammation by inhibiting the COX pathway, decreasing NF-kB translocation, and suppressing the expression of TNF-a as well as IL-5 and IL-13 mRNA.
To figure it out: COX stands for cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that forms the compounds responsible for the inflammatory response (3Trusted). COX-1 maintains normal gastric and intestinal mucosa and is involved in kidney and platelet function; COX-2, however, is mainly found in inflammatory foci. For example, NSAIDs work by inhibiting both COX-1 and COX-2. Specific COX-2 inhibitors have largely been removed from the market due to the increased risk of heart attack and stroke (3). NF-kB stands for nuclear factor that enhances the kappa light chain of activated B cells and is found in almost all types of animal cells. It is involved in cellular responses to stress, cytokines, free radicals, heavy metals and more and plays a role in regulating the immune response, but when not properly regulated, NF-kB is associated with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and viral infections. TNF-a, or tumor necrosis factor, coordinates the inflammatory process. Excess TNF, which healthy bodies block, can lead to unnecessary inflammation (5). Both IL-5 and IL-13 are interleukins that regulate different parts of the immune response. So, to summarize: Thymoquinone directly suppresses inflammation in a variety of ways.
Research in this area is minimal, but one study from 2011 yielded statistically significant results. Researchers divided 70 healthy subjects into two groups: one group received 2.5 mg of black seed oil twice a day, and the other received 2.5 ml of mineral oil twice a day (7). Fasting blood glucose, liver and kidney function, and HbA1C (a form of hemoglobin chemically linked to sugar that allows healthcare providers to measure average blood sugar) were tested at baseline and three months later. Blood samples were taken after 12 hours of fasting. The mean fasting blood glucose in the study group at the start of the study was 102.4 +/- 20.8 mg / dL; at the end of the study it had dropped to 91/5 +/- 12.5 mg / dL. On the other hand, in the placebo group, blood sugar levels increased slightly. The difference between the two groups was statistically significant (p = 0.006). HbA1c levels in the black seed oil group also decreased statistically significantly. In terms of safety, some subjects in the black seed oil group reported transient nausea; no other reactions were noted, and liver and kidney function were not affected.
The effect of Nigella sativa on plasma lipid concentration is controversial, says a 2016 meta-analysis published in Pharmacological Research. To this end, the researchers reviewed 17 randomized controlled trials examining the effects of black cumin powder and black cumin oil on plasma lipid concentration, a measure of cholesterol. They found significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, with black seed oil having a greater effect than the powder. Although further randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are needed, the results have been promising, the researchers said.
Research in this area is minimal, but promising. In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 40 elderly participants were randomly divided into a treatment group that received 500 mg of black seed twice daily for nine weeks and a control group that received a placebo (10). Neuropsychological tests were performed in all volunteers twice before treatment and after nine weeks, including a memory test, an attention test, and a visual attention / task switching test. The test group saw significant improvement in all tests compared to the control group and did not see any adverse reactions.