Nigella sativa—more commonly known as black cumin, but also referred to as habbatus sauda, black seed or kalonji—comes from the fennel plants of Southeast Asia. This seed has been used as a natural remedy by traditional Asian healers and herbalists for generations to treat inflammation, infections and more.
And while this seed has been used medicinally for centuries throughout Asia and other parts of the world, it's just beginning to pick up steam in the wellness community for its healing powers.
What is Nigella Sativa?
Nigella sativa is the scientific name for the habbatus sauda plant, or black cumin seed, which comes from fennel flowers native to Asia. Archaeological evidence shows nigella sativa was used for both culinary purposes—especially in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines—as well as medicinally. In fact, the medicinal benefits of nigella sativa were recorded as early as the year 980 by the Persian Muslim physician, Avicenna, who stated that ingesting the seeds of the habbatus sauda plant was a treatment for dyspnea—shortness of breath.
Today, nigella sativa seeds are used as an alternative healing method for a variety of ailments, including headaches, arthritis, congestion, digestive problems and more.
Nigella Sativa BenefitsOver the last few decades, the scientific community has developed a particular interest in studying this plant because of its ability to adapt itself into biological pathways—one of the reasons the seeds are thought to be so incredibly curative.
Anti-inflammatory benefits of nigella seed
Perhaps the most notable benefit of nigella sativa is its anti-inflammatory properties. Considering a number of diseases and conditions develop from chronic inflammation in the system—ulcerative colitis, asthma, ulcers, diabetes, heart disease, and in some cases even cancer—it’s important to take steps to reduce chronic inflammation when possible.
While human studies are limited to participants with specific conditions, several institutions have found that kalonji (nigella sativa) oil is effective at reducing inflammation within the body. One study comprised of 42 participants suffering from rheumatoid arthritis showed that taking 1,000mg of kalonji oil a day for eight weeks reduced inflammation and oxidative stress (the imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals within the body).
Additionally, nigella seeds are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which reduce inflammation in the body by neutralising free radicals and cell damage and protect against chronic diseases and obesity.
Brain boosting benefits of nigella seeds
Due to nigella sativa’s anti-inflammatory properties and rich antioxidants, research has seen some major brain benefits from this seed, including improved memory and cognitive function.
Nigella sativa is also an incredibly promising herb for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease as it’s been shown to help protect neuron degeneration in several parts of the brain.
Antimicrobial benefits of nigella seed
Nigella sativa has been found to have antimicrobial properties for fighting off bacteria and certain infections, from ear infections to pneumonia to staph.
Research studies in Pakistan have shown nigella sativa to be effective at curbing the growth of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a fatal and notoriously difficult-to-treat staph infection, as well as other bacteria strains.
And while more research is needed, the existing data on antimicrobial and antibiotic properties of nigella sativa seeds is promising!
Beauty benefits of nigella seeds
Problematic skin? Nigella seed oil can also be used for a variety of skin conditions to improve skin health.
A study by the Journal of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery found that adding black seed oil to participants’ skin routines helped to reduce acne within eight weeks. It’s also been shown to reduce psoriasis flare ups and support accelerated wound healing due to its antibacterial properties.
How to take nigella sativaThese seeds can be eaten raw, toasted, ground and added to dishes, applied as topical oil treatment, or taken as a supplement in powdered form (like in Pegaga by PurelyB!) or soft gel capsule.