Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nigella sativa

Nigella sativa is an annual flowering plant, native to southwest Asia. It grows to 20–30 cm (7.9–12 in) tall, with finely divided, linear (but not thread-like) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually coloured pale blue and white, with 5–10 petals. The fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of 3–7 united follicles, each containing numerous seeds. The seed is used as a spice.

In English, Nigella sativa seed is variously called fennel flower, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, blackseed, black caraway, or black onion seed. Other names used, sometimes misleadingly, are onion seed and black sesame, both of which are similar-looking but unrelated. The seeds are frequently referred to as black cumin (as in Bengali: kalo jira, kalo jeera, kali jeera), but this is also used for a different spice, Bunium persicum. The scientific name is a derivative of Latin niger "black". An older English name gith is now used for the corncockle. In English-speaking countries with large immigrant populations, it is also variously known as kalonji (Hindi कलौंजी kalaunjī or कलोंजी kalonjī), kezah Hebrew קצח), chernushka (Russian), çörek otu (Turkish), habbat albarakah (Arabic (Persian سیاه‌دانه siyâh dâne)or كلونجى in urdu. "KARIM JEERAKAM" in Malayalam. حبه البركة habbatu al-barakah "seed of blessing") or siyah daneh.

This potpourri of vernacular names for this plant reflects that its widespread use as a spice is relatively new in the English speaking world, and largely associated with immigrants from areas where it is well known. Increasing use is likely to result in one of the names winning out. It is used as part of the spice mixture Panch Puran and by itself in a great many recipes in Bengali cookery and most recognisably in Naan Bread as sold in the 90% of Indian Resturants in the UK which are in fact Bengali owned. Nigella sativa has a pungent bitter taste and smell. It is used primarily in confectionary and liquors. The variety of naan bread called Peshawari naan is as a rule topped with kalonji seeds. In herbal medicine, Nigella sativa has antihypertensive, carminative, and anthelmintic properties. They are eaten by elephants to aid digestion.


According to Zohary and Hopf, archeological evidence about the earliest cultivation of N. sativa "is still scanty", but they report that N. sativa seeds have been found in several sites from ancient Egypt, including Tutankhamun's tomb. Although its exact role in Egyptian culture is unknown, it is known that items entombed with a pharaoh were carefully selected to assist him in the after life.

The earliest written reference to N. sativa is thought to be in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament where the reaping of nigella and wheat is contrasted (Isaiah 28: 25, 27). Easton's Bible  dictionary states that the Hebrew word ketsah refers to without doubt to N. sativa (although not all translations are in agreement). According to Zohary and Hopf, N. sativa "was another traditional condiment of the Old World during classical times; and its black seeds were extensively used to flavor food." Nigella sativa has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, both as a herb and pressed into oil, in Asia, Middle East, and Africa. It has been traditionally used for a variety of conditions and  treatments related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal health, kidney and liver function, circulatory and immune system support, and for general well-being. In Islam, it is regarded as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine available. Muhammad once stated that the black seed can heal every disease—except death—as recounted in the following hadith: [Sahih Muslim : Book 26 Kitab As-Salam, Number 5489] Abu Huraira (Radi Allah Anhu) reported that he heard Allah's Messenger (sal-allahu- alleihi-wasallam ) as saying: Nigella seed is a remedy for every disease except death. Narrated Khalid bin Sa'd R.A:We went out and Ghalib bin Abjar R.A was accompanying us. He fell ill on the way and when we arrived at Medina he was still sick. Ibn Abi 'Atiq came to visit him and said to us, "Treat him with black cumin. Take five or seven seeds and crush them (mix the powder with oil) and drop the resulting mixture into both nostrils, for 'Aisha has narrated to me that she heard the Prophet saying, 'This black cumin is healing for all diseases except As-Sam.' 'Aisha said, 'What is As-Sam?' He said, 'Death.' "

رسول الله - صلى الله عليه وسلم: " إن هذه الحبة السوداء شفاء من كل

داء إلا السام، قلت: وما السام؟ قال الموت

[Sahih Muslim : Book 26

Kitab As-Salam, Number 5490] Abu Huraira (Radi Allah Anhu) reported Allah's Messenger (sal-allahu- alleihi-wasallam)  saying: There s no disease for which Nigella seed does not provide remedy. Avicenna, most famous for his volumes called The Canon of Medicine, refers to nigella as the seed that stimulates the body's energy and helps recovery from fatigue and dispiritedness. It is also included in the list of natural drugs of 'Tibb-e-Nabavi', or "Medicine of the Prophet (Muhammad)", according to the tradition "hold onto the use of the black seeds for in it is healing for all diseases except death" (Sahih Bukhari vol. 7 book 71 # 592). In the Unani Tibb system of medicine, N. sativa is regarded as a valuable remedy for a number of diseases. The seeds have been traditionally used in the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries to treat ailments including asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism and related inflammatory diseases, to increase milk production in nursing mothers, to promote digestion and to fight parasitic infections. Its oil has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and boils and to treat cold symptoms. Its many uses have earned nigella the Arabic approbation 'Habbatul barakah', meaning the seed of blessing.


The seeds contain numerous esters of structurally unusual unsaturated fatty acids with terpene alcohols (7%); furthermore, traces of alkaloids are found which belong to two different types: isochinoline alkaloids are represented by nigellimin and nigellimin-N-oxide, and pyrazol alkaloids include nigellidin and nigellicin. In the essential oil (avr. 0.5%, max. 1.5%), thymoquinone was identified as the main component (up to 50%) besides p-cymene (40%), a-pinene (up to 15%), dithymoquinone and thymohydroquinone. Other terpene derivatives were found only in trace amounts: Carvacrol, carvone, limonene, 4-terpineol, citronellol. Furthermore, the essential oil contains significant (10%) amounts of fatty acid ethyl esters. On storage, thymoquinone yields dithymoquinonene and higher oligocondensation product (nigellone). The seeds also contain a fatty oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids, mainly linoleic acid (50 – 60%), oleic acid (20%), eicodadienoic acid (3%) and dihomolinoleic acid (10%) which is characteristic for the genus. Saturated fatty acids (palmitic, stearic acid) amount to about 30% or less. Commercial nigella oil (“Black Seed Oil”, “Black Cumin Oil”) may also contain parts of the essential oil, mostly thymoquinone, by which it acquires an aromatic flavour.


1. Antimicrobial activity:

 Nigella sativa exhibited strong antimicrobial activity against Salmonella typhi, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and others. The essential oil has been shown to have activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. However, sensitivity against Gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Vibrio cholerae was found to be stronger. Bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, S. pyogenes and S. viridans are more susceptible to Nigella sativa. In an in-vitro study, volatile oil showed activity comparable to ampicillin. The activity of the volatile oil also extended to drug-resistant strains of Shigella spp, Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli and was found to have a synergistic action with streptomycin and gentamycin.

2. Hepatoprotective activity:

Thymoquinone, one of the active constituents of Nigella sativa, is reported to have hepatoprotective activity." An in-vitro study showed the protective effect against tert-butyl hydroperoxide (TBHP)-induced oxidative damage to hepatocytes. The activity was demonstrated by a decreased leakage of alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartic transaminase (AST) and decreased trypan blue uptake.

3. Antidiabetic activity:

Significant hypoglycaemic activity has been reported and is thought to be due to the essential oil present. Clinical studies have confirmed these results and suggest that the antidiabetic action of the plant extract.

4. Antiinflammatory activity:

Asthma and arthritis are chronic inflammatory disorders involving a variety of inflammatory mediators and different pathways. The fixed oil and thymoquinone from the seeds were found to inhibit eicosanoid generation in leucocytes and membrane lipid peroxidation and a significant reduction in rat paw oedema and a reduction in granuloma pouch weight were also observed. Nigellone in low concentration is effective in inhibiting the histamine release from the mast cells, which supports an antiasthmatic role for the plant.

5. Antifertility activity:

The antifertility activity of Nigella sativa in male rats has been established, shown by an inhibition of spermatogenesis and a significant reduction in sialic acid content of the testis, epididymis, seminal vesicles and prostate.

6. Antioxytocic adivity:

Preliminary reports suggest antioxytocic properties, in that a reversible inhibition of spontaneous smooth muscle contraction and inhibition of uterine smooth muscle contraction induced by oxytocin stimulation have been observed.

7. Cytotoxic adivity:
Cytotoxic and immunopotentiating ffects of Nigella sativa have been established. The long chain fatty acids are thought to contribute to the antitumour activity. The extract shows a modulatory effect in cisplatin-induced toxicity in mice and a protective effect against cisplatin-induced falls in haemoglobin levels and leucocyte counts.

8. Anthelmintic adivity:

Nigella sativa was found to have an anthelmintic activity against tapeworm comparable to that of piperazine.

9.Analgesic adivity:

The essential oil produced significant analgesic activity using chemical and thermal noxious stimuli methods such as acetic acid-induced writhing, hot plate and tail flick tests.


Other reports include hypocholesterolaemic, antihypertensive and galactagogue effects.

Black cumin (habba soda) oil is used for the treatment of diseases in the following manner:

1. NERVOUS TENSION: A teaspoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil with a cup of tea makes you cool down and eliminates all symptoms of tension.

2. COUGH AND ASTHMA: Rub the chest and back with black cumin (habba soda) oil, drink three tablespoon of the oil per day, and inhale the vapours of a mixture
of cumin (habba soda) oil and water.

3. SLUGGISHNESS AND LAZINESS : A tablespoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil with orange juice in the morning for ten days ( you will see the difference by yourself)

cumin (habba soda) oil with 100 mg of boiled mint for 10 days.

5. DIABETES: Prepare a mixture of a cup of black cumin (habba soda) seeds, a cup of water cress seeds, half a cup of pomegranate peel, and half a cup of bile. Grind the mixture to the powder point. Take half a spoon of the mixture together with a teaspoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil daily breakfast for one month.

6. KIDNEY AND BLADDER CALCULI: Grind 0.25 kg, of black cumin (habba soda) seeds thoroughly and mix with 0.25 kg of pure honey. Take two tablespoons of this mixture and mix thoroughly with half a cup of hot water. This mixture is to be taking daily before breakfast together with a teaspoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil.

7. FOR A PLEASANT APPEARANCE AND GOOD LOOKING FACE: Mix a tablespoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil with a tablespoon of olive oil. Rub the face with this mixture and leave it for one hour. Wash with soap and water (The difference will be clear )

8. NAUSEA AND VOMITTING: A teaspoonof ground carnation plus a tablespoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil in boiled mint 3 times daily.

9. FOR THE PREVENTION OF ALLDISEASES (GOD WILLING): A tablespoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil with a tablespoon of honey every morning. Keep to this regime daily and you will feel healthy and wholesome and will never visit a doctor in your life, God willing.

10. INFLAMMATION OF THE THIGHS AND GROINS: Wash the inflamed area thoroughly with soap and water. Dry thoroughly and rub with black cumin (habba soda) oil in the evening and leave till the next morning. Repeat for 3 days and you
will see the result from the first day, God willing.

11. HEART DISEASE AND BLOOD VESSEL STENOSIS: Drink black cumin (habba soda) oil continuously with any hot drink. This dissolves fats and dilates veins and arteries.

12. VITILIGO AND LEPROSY: Rub the area with apple vinegar and then with black cumin (habba soda) oil for 15days.

13. FOR THE ELIMINATION OF WARTS: Rub the wart thoroughly with purslane and than with black cumin (habba soda) oil. Repeat this process for 15 days together with a teaspoon of the oil to be drunk 3 times daily.

14. BACKACHE AND OTHER KINDS OF RHEUMATISM: Heat mildly some amount of black cumin (habba soda) oil and then stroke the rheumatism area intensely with this oil together with tablespoon of the oil to be drunk 3 times daily. Healing is expected within two weeks, God Willing.

15. HEADACHE: Rub the forehead and the sides of the face near the ears with black cumin (habba soda) oil, together with a teaspoon of the oil to be drunk 3 times daily before breakfast and the headache will entirely disappear.

16. ACIDITY AND OTHER STOMACHACHES: Drink a cup of milk with a tablespoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil 3 times a day for 5 days and all the stomach troubles will vanish.

17. GYNECOLOGY AND OBSTETRICS (TO PRESERVE THE CHILD): Drink black cumin (habba soda) seed boiled in aniseed and sweetened with 5 times a day for 40 days or a teaspoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil, boiled with aniseed
and sweetened with honey 5 times a day for 40 days.

18. SEXUAL IMPOTENCY: Mix 200 g, of ground black cumin (habba soda) with olive oil +100 g, of ground olibanum + 50 g of black cumin (habba soda) oil + 50 g of watercress oil + 200 g of pure bee honey. Mix thoroughly and take a tablespoon after every meal. This will restore vitality even late after menopause.

19. LOSS OF HAIR: Stroke the scalp thoroughly with lemon and leave for ¼ of an hour. Wash with shampoo and water and after thoroughly drying, apply black cumin (habba soda) oil to the entire scalp. Repeat for one week and the loss of hair will stop completely.

20. EYE DISEASE AND IMPAIRED VISION: Rub the eyelids and the sides of the eye orbits half an hour before going to bed with black cumin (habba soda) oil together with a tablespoon of the oil to be drunk with a cup carrot juice, repeat for about one month.

21. HYPERTENSION: Whenever you drink a hot drink, mix a teaspoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil and take also two lobes of garlic, every morning before breakfast. Rub all the body with black cumin (habba soda) oil and expose your body to sun rays for an half an hour once every three days. Repeat for about one month.

22. MENINGITIS: Inhale the vapor of black cumin (habba soda) seed; drink a tablespoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil with lemon juice in the morning and in the evening.

23.DIARRHEA: Mix a tablespoon of black cumin (habba soda) oil with a cup of yoghurt. Drink the mixture twice a day for 3 days. The diarrhea will disappear completely.


No comments: