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Black Seed Essential Oil

Nigella sativa

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Essential Facts

Notes & Use

Traditional Use of Black Seed

  • Anti-inflammatory: Thymoquinone, a key active compound in black seed oil, has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Antioxidant: This oil is rich in antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Thymoquinone is the primary antioxidant compound in the oil.
  • Antimicrobial: Studies suggest that black seed oil exhibits antimicrobial activity against different types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
  • Antidiabetic: Some studies suggest that black seed oil may help regulate blood sugar levels, making it potentially useful for people with diabetes.
  • Immune-boosting: The oil has been shown to boost the immune response, which could help the body fight off illnesses.
  • Analgesic: Black seed oil has been traditionally used to alleviate pain, and some research supports its analgesic properties.
  • Anti-cancer: Early research indicates that thymoquinone in black seed oil may induce apoptosis in cancer cells, although more research is needed to fully understand this potential benefit.


Nigella sativa, commonly known as black cumin or black seed, belongs to the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. It's an annual flowering plant that is native to South and Southwest Asia, but has since been cultivated in many parts of the world.
  • Size and Form: Nigella sativa is a small plant that typically grows to be about 20-30 centimeters tall. The plant has a slender form with branching stems.
  • Leaves: The leaves are finely divided and feathery, growing in opposing pairs on the stems.
  • Flowers: The flowers of Nigella sativa are delicate and usually white, pale blue, or pale purple, with 5-10 petals. They have distinct, thread-like structures known as stamens, and are borne individually on tall, thin stalks.
  • Fruit: The fruit of Nigella sativa is a large, inflated capsule composed of 3-7 united follicles. Each follicle contains numerous seeds.
  • Seeds: The seeds are angular, black, and have a strong aroma. They are used as a spice in cooking and are the source of black seed oil.
  • Root: The plant has a taproot system.

Nigella sativa prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It's tolerant of poor soil conditions and is often found in neglected areas of cultivated land. It's an annual plant, completing its lifecycle within one growing season, and it self-seeds readily, which makes it easy to grow.


Traditional Folklore

Black seed, also known as Nigella sativa, black cumin, or black caraway, has a rich history and folklore, especially within Islamic, Ayurvedic, and traditional Middle Eastern cultures. Its use dates back thousands of years.

The essential oil derived from black seeds is traditionally believed to have healing properties and has been used in various ways:
  • Islamic Tradition: Black seed is mentioned in the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and is described as a cure for every disease except death. This belief has led to widespread use of black seed and its oil in Islamic traditional medicine.
  • Ayurvedic and Unani Medicine: In Ayurveda and Unani (traditional Indian and Persian medicine systems), black seed and its oil have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues, respiratory problems, and skin conditions.
  • Ancient Egyptian Usage: Black seed oil was reportedly found in the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, suggesting that it was considered valuable in ancient Egypt. It's also said that Cleopatra used black seed oil for beauty treatments.
  • Middle Eastern and African Folklore: In these cultures, black seed oil has been traditionally used for boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and treating respiratory conditions.
  • Biblical References: Black seed is believed to be the "melanthion" mentioned by Hippocrates, and the "cumin" cited in the Bible's Old Testament (Isaiah 28: 25, 27).

Aroma-Chemistry of Black Seed

  • Thymoquinone: This is the most prominent compound in black seed essential oil, and it's been studied extensively due to its potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.
  • Thymohydroquinone: This is a potent natural acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor. AChE inhibitors are compounds that stop the activity of the AChE enzyme, thereby increasing the level and duration of action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which can be beneficial for diseases like Alzheimer's.
  • Thymol: This compound is a phenol that's also found in thyme essential oil. It's known for its antiseptic and antifungal properties.
  • Para-cymene: This is an aromatic hydrocarbon that can be found in many essential oils and is known for its antimicrobial properties.
  • Carvacrol: This phenolic compound is known for its potent antimicrobial activity.
  • T-anethole: This compound is responsible for the licorice-like smell in many essential oils.
  • 4-terpineol: This monoterpene alcohol is known for its antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.
  • Sesquiterpenes: These compounds are known for their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities.
Recipes & Blends

Recipes and Blends

Black Seed Oil Skin Soother:

  • 4 drops black seed essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons jojoba oil or sweet almond oil
  • 1 drop lavender essential oil 
Mix all the ingredients together in a small, dark glass bottle. Apply to the skin as needed, avoiding the eyes and other sensitive areas.

Black Seed Oil Scalp Treatment:

  • 5 drops black seed essential oil
  • 5 drops Salvia rosmarinus ct verbenone essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
Mix the oils together and massage into the scalp. Leave on for 30 minutes, then wash out with a gentle shampoo.

Black Seed Oil Inhalation Blend for Respiratory Support:

  • 5 drops black seed essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops frankincense sacra essential oil
Combine these in a small, dark glass bottle. Use a few drops in a diffuser to help support clear breathing.
Safety Etc.

Safety Information for Black Seed

  1. Skin Irritation: Black seed oil may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some individuals. It's recommended to perform a patch test before using the oil extensively. If any redness, swelling, itchiness, or other signs of irritation occur, discontinue use.
  2. Ingestion: The ingestion of essential oils is generally not recommended without the supervision of a healthcare professional or a trained aromatherapist, as they are highly concentrated and can potentially cause harm if consumed improperly. Overdose can result in nausea, vomiting, or even more severe health consequences.
  3. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid using black seed essential oil unless under the guidance of a healthcare provider, due to a lack of research on its safety in these populations.
  4. Children: Essential oils, including black seed oil, should be used with caution in children. Always consult a pediatrician before using black seed oil on a child.
  5. Drug Interactions: Black seed oil may interact with certain medications, including those for diabetes and high blood pressure. If you're taking any medication, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before using black seed oil.
  6. Photosensitivity: Some essential oils can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, leading to quicker burns or rashes. Although this is not a widely reported issue with black seed oil, it's still a good idea to be cautious when applying it to skin that will be exposed to the sun.


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