Updated: Feb 17
For a person who is chronically sick, there is nothing they wouldn't give to be well again. I know because I was that person. I suffered for years and years thinking my autoimmune condition was a life sentence of agony, pain, suffering and a dismal future.
When you have your health, food is fun and in a world of decadent food blogs, drool-worthy Instagram pictures and indulgent YouTube videos it is rather easy to forget that food can be either nature's healing medicine or a slow poison.
My Superfoods Series is dedicated to sharing valuable information that can MAKE A DIFFERENCE to your quality of life and health. These are foods and supplements I have tried and tested with beneficial results to help me gain control of my life again and I hope in turn this blog can help you find the answers to healing your body and living your best life as well.
Please note this post is NOT sponsored but may include some affiliate links which pay me a small commission at not cost to you should you wish to discover the health benefits for yourself. This article is purely informational. Please consult with your health care professional and I encourage you to do your own research to find out if this product is right for you. Always talk to your health care professional if you are not sure about making changes to your diet. This information in no way substitutes for medical/professional advice.
I KNOW THE SUFFERING OF POOR HEALTH AND THE JOY OF OVERCOMING IT
As some of you may know, I have lived with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of IBD, (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), an autoimmune condition for over 20 years. Over years of trial and error, I have gone from being bed-ridden, sick and with no quality of life to being able to create my own business, run two blogs, follow my passion for music, fulfil my duties as a wife, overzealous dog mum and doting Aunty, discover I'm a YouTube yoga lover and I'm happy to say the list goes on!
I will always need to be careful and do things a little differently but there was a time I could not leave my house without fear instantly gripping over me, petrified that I would need a bathroom and wouldn't get there in time. I was in my bathroom 15-20 times a day. I couldn't put a morsel of food in my mouth without an INSTANT need to run to the bathroom. I would starve myself if I was going out so there would be nothing in my gut to digest (although this often did not work either thanks to the bloody mucus that continued to build up in my sickly gut). Fast forward to now and I am so grateful to be able to enjoy my life once again.
It is my personal passion to continue to learn and share more about food, nutrition, health, bio-hacking and longevity. I look forward to sharing what I have learned and practice through my blogs - because everyone should have access to information and be able to live in good health.
LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE
Black Cumin Seed also known as Nigella Seeds, Nigella Sativa and Kalonji is truly a superfood with an illustrious history.
These modest looking seeds have been prized for their endless health and beauty benefits since the times of the Ancient Egyptians and are regarded by many cultures as a literal "cure all" food. While it's history for healing in natural health circles in well known, science is beginning to catch up and recently there has been a huge surge in beauty products containing black cumin seed thanks to it's powerful anti-aging and beauty enhancing capabilities. It's been claimed that black cumin seeds were the beauty secret of both famous Egyptian Queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra and were found within the tomb of King Tutankhamen - a testament to the value of this small yet highly prized wonder of nature.
I stumbled across this mysterious superfood one sleepless night as I returned to my bed from another painful, bloody trip to the bathroom. In desperation I began poring through a Google search looking for anything new that would calm my ulcerative colitis.
My medications weren't enough and I was scared of what lay ahead in my future. I could not bear the thought of another day, yet alone a life of pain and suffering. My specialist had made it clear that it was likely I would need to have my entire colon removed at some point and that I had an increased risk for bowel cancer with my condition not under control, so when I stumbled across glowing reviews for Black Seed Oil, I took notice real quick!
While I was mainly interested in it's anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antibacterial benefits I quickly learned that black cumin seeds have limitless benefits to general health and for me it has been an vital part of my healing journey.
WHAT MAKES BLACK CUMIN SEEDS SO SPECIAL?
Black Cumin Seeds contain several powerful health-promoting compounds including:
Carvacrol (prized for it's high antioxidant activity and anti-cancer properties)
T-anethole (which has antioxidative, antimicrobial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties)
4-terpineol (shown to kill certain bacteria, viruses and fungi)
As well as it's star substance Thymoquinone
Thymoquinone acts as a anti-convulsant, antimicrobial, anti-cancer, antihistaminic, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and potent antioxidant/free-radical scavenger. It also assists in raising the transcription gene responsible for the production of natural antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase (SOD, an enzyme that helps break down potentially harmful oxygen molecules in cells), catalase (CAT, a very important enzyme in protecting the cell from oxidative damage) and glutathione peroxidase an enzyme which protects the DNA in living cells. In other words, it protects and keeps the function of the cells healthy and functioning optimally.
Just some of many other beneficial elements found in Black Cumin Seeds are:
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BLACK CUMIN SEEDS
High Antioxidant Value Protects Cells from Damage and Oxidative Stress
One of the main reasons we age and fall prone to illness is that our cells lose the ability to do what they once did which opens the gateway for illness and disease. By protecting the cells and the DNA, we are supporting our body to function optimally and maintain good health. Black seed oil appears to protect and support optimal cell health.
There's a lot of interest in black cumin seed's ability to positively reduce cancer growth and offer natural protection against tumour growth. While many people have made claims to it's miraculous healing abilities, controlled scientific studies also support that black cumin seed may inhibit/reduce tumour growth in various types of cancer including blood, breast, colon, pancreatic, liver, lung, skin, kidney, prostate and cervix.
Black cumin seed also seems to decrease the side effects for people undergoing chemotherapy -particularly in children with brain tumours on chemotherapy, as well as make cancer cells more responsive to treatment.
A lot of studies are ongoing into black cumin seed's potent antimicrobial effects against different pathogens, bacteria, viruses, schistosoma (parasitic flatworms) and fungus. What's most encouraging is it's effectiveness in killing bacteria without any reported side effects. This is important as we currently are facing a huge problem with antibiotic resistance due to their over prescription and improper use however additional studies are required to evaluate and explore the specific cellular and molecular mechanisms of the antimicrobial effects of black cumin seed alone or in combination with other compounds. For example garlic oil is a another known powerful natural compound with a strong antibacterial effect.
Protect Brain Health
Black cumin seed has been shown to have positive effects on reducing inflammation and protecting the brain against degenerative conditions including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease through it's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory factors. Studies are currently ongoing to see if animal studies translate into the same results for humans but so far the results are very encouraging.
So many dangerous conditions within the body are triggered by low grade but extended internal inflammation that we don't realise is happening until we become symptomatic. I believe controlling inflammation is perhaps one of the THE MOST IMPORTANT things we can do to protect our health. Thymoquinone's powerful anti-inflammatory action modulates the immune system in both directions meaning it can suppress chronic inflammation while boosting appropriate immune functions to ensure a well balanced immune system. Since almost all conditions start with an inflammatory response, black seed oil can be a very powerful tool in modulating the body's immune system to protect against illness and disease.
Ability to Help In Autoimmune Conditions
Black cumin seed has been shown in studies to be helpful in autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis as well as asthma, sinusitis, and eczema. Given the current data, it could be surmised that other autoimmune conditions would also benefit thanks to the immune system balancing effects of black cumin seed.
Ability To Improve Blood Sugar Levels
A lot of research has gone into black cumin seed's effects on diabetes. A 2017 study concluded that consumption of black cumin seed oil over time reduced HbA1c - (average blood glucose levels) by increasing insulin production, decreasing insulin resistance, stimulating cellular activity and decreasing intestinal insulin absorption. Another 2016 paper in the British Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, indicated that the role of black cumin seeds in treating diabetes is substantially important for enhancing insulin production as well as improving glucose tolerance and beta cell proliferation in the pancreas to produce insulin. Encouragingly, the seeds seem to play a significant role in the treatment of diabetes complications such as nephropathy, neuropathy, and atherosclerosis.
More and more studies suggest that well managed blood sugar levels without huge spikes results in better health and anti-aging benefits.
Enhance Your Beauty Naturally
The powerful antioxidants within black seed oil work to synergistically eliminate harmful free radicals from skin cells which rejuvenates and revitalizes the skin by reducing fine lines and wrinkles and eliminating blemishes and dark spots. Black seed oil also contains natural polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids (including linoleic, oleic, and palmitic), as well as natural plant sterols and additional vitamins and minerals. Both ingesting black seed oil and applying skincare products made with the oil can enhance your skin naturally.
In addition to all the above, there are ongoing studies researching black seed oils ability to protect the stomach lining and reduce stomach ulcers as well as protect the liver and kidneys while other studies are looking into it's effects on weight loss.
WHO SHOULDN'T CONSUME/USE BLACK CUMIN SEEDS?
Some people may experience contact dermatitis after applying black cumin seed oil products to the skin. Always patch test first to ensure you don't have a reaction
Some studies suggest it may influence blood clotting so chat to your health care professional if you take blood thinners
If you are pregnant, consult your doctor. Animal studies have found that black cumin seeds can be can be safely consumed during pregnancy, however one study found that the oil could slow down uterine contractions when used in large amounts
It's advised to stop taking black seed oil at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery
Black seed oil may interact with some common medications such as beta-blockers, again check with your health care professional if you are unsure of how new supplements may impact you
HOW MUCH SHOULD I TAKE?
Generally you can freely add black cumin seeds into your diet however if you are looking to take black seed oil more therapeutically, remember you only need 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per day. Currently recommendations suggest it's best taken on an empty stomach. For total beginners a 1/4 teaspoon may be a good starting point.
As a side note. the flavour is intense and may take some getting used to (although I don't mind it at all). You could dilute it in a bit of warm water if you wish to. Always start cautiously and again, consult a health care professional as a precaution to ensure it is safe for you, especially if you are on prescribed medications.
A word of caution. If you have a sore throat, be very careful drinking the oil neat (i.e. not diluted), mix it in some warm water or take a break. I have made this mistake and I am sure I killed the hell out the bacteria - but man did it sting!
WHERE TO BUY BLACK CUMIN SEEDS AND OIL
You'll find black cumin seed easily at any local Indian grocery store (usually under the name nigella seeds or kalonji) and of course Amazon is a popular and convenient option too if ordering online.
Look for cold-pressed black seed oil for the best quality. I've used the brands listed below over the years and found them both to be beneficial:
International link to access via Amazon where you can choose what's best for you:
As with all things natural, you must give it time for it to work so patience and taking it diligently is key. It may take time to feel relief and see changes so give yourself at least a month or two for the benefits to really kick in.
Black cumin seeds and oil can empower your body with the ability to heal and repair many conditions within the body. From brain health, to auto-immune conditions, to diabetes and asthma, black cumin seeds have shown promise. It's powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer and immune balancing abilities make it a wonderful choice for anyone looking to enhance their overall health or for those looking for natural relief from their ailments.
While the science is catching up, black seed oil has a long history as a powerful cure all. Unfortunately drug companies don't care about making you well and can't patent natural ingredients so they are never going to put the dollars into researching natural healing alternatives. What the science can tell you is that the compounds within it make it a powerful food that's been around for thousands of years. I know it's helped me and I sincerely hope it helps you too.
HERE'S SOME RECIPE INSPIRATION
with BLACK CUMIN SEEDS
Stay happy and healthy friends!
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