Every now and then, I come across something that is so amazing that I just have to share it.
With all the bad news out there I feel that we all need to look for the good (thank God there is plenty of it), and focus on it to expand it!
Medical research sometimes discovers extraordinary health benefits of a plant. Herbal medicine was after all what everyone used for eons before Western medicine and synthetic drugs slowly replaced it. When you start learning about plants, or what some may call weeds, you will discover that every single one has potent therapeutic benefits but some have many. Often the smallest seed can pack the most amazing healing compounds, like sesame seeds and black seeds!
When it comes to COVID, a number of plants extracts have shown to be helpful in reducing infection, inflammation and speeding recovery. Some are well known and found in most kitchens like garlic (antioxidant), and ginger (anti-tumor), others, like ginseng, and echinacea (anti-microbial) may already be in your pharmacy.
A relatively newcomer to our naturopathic pharmacy is Nigella sativa, black seed oil, also known as Kalonji. This extraordinary plant is native to Mediterranean countries, Northern Africa, Southern Asia, Pakistan, and India. It has been used for centuries to treat respiratory illnesses like shortness of breath, bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia. No wonder it is being used to help prevent or reduce COVID symptoms.
Is black seeds different from black cumin seeds?
Yes. Black cumin seeds can be either Bunium bulbocastanum or Nigella sativa. You can tell the difference by looking at them. Black seeds (Nigella sativa) have a dark matte black color and are the size of caraway seeds and only they deliver all the amazing health benefits. Black cumin seeds on the other hand are thinner and longer and are mostly used as a condiment in Indian food. They have health benefits but way less than black seeds.
Black seeds contain a potent volatile compounds called thymoquinone (TQ) which according to the National Institute of Health is known to be a “natural antidiabetic, anticancer, immunomodulatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, renal and gastro-protective, and antioxidant properties.” Just that! Not bad for a tiny seed, right?
Studies from the National Institute of Health, show that “Thymoquinone (TQ) was successful in “blocking the introduction of the virus to pneumocytes; providing ionophores to improve zinc intake, thereby improving the host immune response to SARS-CoV-2; decreasing viral replication and loads in cells infected with corona viruses and preventing the virus from replicating”. This is great news as the flu season approaches and we are all looking for ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
Other Health Benefits of Black Seeds
The therapeutic benefits of black seeds don’t end with preventing and relieving COVID symptoms, there are so many others, namely:
- Lowers bad LDL cholesterol.
- Anti-cancer “THQ exhibits anti-proliferative effects specifically on various malignant cells (human breast adenocarcinoma, glioblastoma, leukemia, lung cancer, colorectal carcinoma, pancreatic cancer, osteosarcoma, and prostate cancer), but showed little effect on non-cancerous cells”.
- Can be used as standard antibiotic to treat bacterial infections such as staphyloccocal skin infections.
- Effectively treats Staphylococcus aureus (a.k.a. MRSA), a type of bacteria that is resistant to most antibiotics.
- Potent anti-inflammatory for rheumatoid arthritis patients.
- Protects against liver and kidney damage when exposed to toxic chemicals (animal study).
- Prevent ulcers from forming by protecting the lining of the stomach.
Culinary Uses of Black Cumin Seeds
Caveat emptor! Don’t try to eat raw Nigella seeds because they taste like pungent bird seeds! Believe me you only make that mistake once! I had some in an un-labelled spice jar and thought it was black sesame seeds! Also to get the health benefits, you must dry toast the seeds for less than a minute and grind them to a powder. These two quick steps will also bring out the wonderful smoky and nutty flavors. Sprinkle on salads, stir fries, curries, oatmeal, smoothies, soups, add to breads etc.
Black Seed Weight-loss morning drink
We have all heard about drinking apple cider vinegar with water to improve digestion and maybe loose a few pounds. Well, move over ACV to make place to black seed morning cleanser. It is really simple: Dry toast and grind 1/4 teaspoon of black seeds, mix it with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of agave syrup and fill with filtered warm water. Stir well and drink every morning on an empty stomach. That’s it!
Black Seed Supplements
Black seed oil is available in liquid form, and capsules. The liquid is quite strong tasting so it is often used topically while the capsules or soft gels can be ingested with food.
Note: As with all aromatic or essential oils, it is best to apply a small amount at first to make sure your skin reacts well to it.
Best time to take it is on an empty stomach, right before a meal or at bedtime. In terms of dosage: for adults, take 1 to 2.5 grams by mouth daily for four to 12 weeks.
Is Black Seed oil for everyone?
For the most part, yes. Some studies have shown that it decreases blood coagulation so patients that are treated for blood clots should consult their doctor first. It is also recommended to stop using it 2-3 weeks prior to getting a surgery.
Pregnant women could take the supplement in moderation but should consult their doctor as it could slow down uterine contractions.
Children and lactating women should abstain from using it.
If you have a very sensitive stomach, you could experience some mild nausea.