Researchers have found that black seed oil slows down and even stops the activity of cancer cells, and that it effectively kills some types of cancer cells.
There are a number of active compounds in black Nigella sativa seeds (see above) and the oil that is extracted from them. In particular, thymoquinone (TQ) has been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-cancer properties, and alpha-hederin has been identified as a possible anticancer agent.
Results of a study on colon cancer undertaken at Tanta University in Egypt using rats was published by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) on the PubMed web site in 2003. The findings showed that black seed oil could inhibit colon cancer without adverse side effects.
n the same year, PubMed published the findings of a US human study that used extracts from Nigella sativa as an oxidative stressor against breast cancer cells and found it to be effective in “inactivating” these cells.
US researchers from the University of Texas considered the potential of a number of phytochemicals from various spices to prevent cancer and other diseases. Specifically:
They found that phytochemicals derived from spices can mediate cancer. In terms of Nigella sativa, they found that TQ inhibits both tumor growth and tumor angiogenesis (when new blood vessels are formed) and could therefore be a “potential drug candidate” for treating cancer.
A Saudi Arabian human study published in The Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology in 2010 looked at the efficacy of Nigella sativa in eradicating Helicobacter pylori infection that leads to a number of disorders including gastric cancer. Whilst the group of patients given triple therapy (TT) that comprised three drugs, amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and Omeprazole (OM) had 82.6 percent success, the other groups treated with Nigella sativa and varying quantities of OM experienced eradication rates from 47.6 to 66.7 percent. This indicated that the black seeds have “clinically useful” activity against H. pylori infection that is comparable to accepted triple therapy that is currently used.
One of the reasons for this particular research study was that H. pylori had become more and more resistant to antibiotics. The researchers concluded that used with a single antibiotic Nigella sativa could provide a less expensive, relatively safer therapy for this widespread infection that leads to so many diseases.
Since Nigella sativa is known to have very potent antioxidant effects, and some drugs used to fight cancer (cyclophosphamide CTX for example) are highly toxic, researchers from King Saud University in Saudi Arabia used rats to see how effective black seed oil and TQ were in reducing toxicity from CTX. They concluded that there was potential for it to be used clinically to minimize the toxic effects of anticancer drug therapy.
Results of yet another Saudi Arabian study, this time published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine in 2013, called Nigella sativa a “miracle herb” and found it to have amazing medicinal effects in fighting a number of diseases, including cancer. They studied the effects of the plant, specifically the TQ on a number of different types of cancer including cervical, breast and pancreatic cancer, and stated that its use with chemotherapeutic agents currently in use could result in safer drugs for the treatment of cancer.
Award winning researcher from the University of Macau in China, biochemist Md. Asaduzzaman Khan sums up the case for Nigella sativa and black seed oil in an article published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines (AJTCAM.) Titled Anticancer Activities of Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin), he lists 57 references published between 1991 and 2010, and explains its role as an anticancer treatment. These include therapy used to fight:
While the fact that black seed oil has been recognized by traditional medicine as an anticancer therapy for thousands of years, scientific research, he says is only relatively recent. Further, there is not yet adequate understanding on how it works and the chemical composition of the seeds and oils has not been adequately authenticated. The molecular mechanism of TQ has also not been fully investigated.
Backing a broad believe that traditional medicine offers a “promising source” for new therapy against cancer, Khan believes that extensive research is needed and that this might contribute to “the discovery of new anticancer strategies.” This would be good news indeed.
Benefits for the skin
Black seed oil may be beneficial for people with the following skin conditions:
- Eczema: According to a small-scale 2013 study comparing the therapeutic benefits of N. sativawith those of prescription medications, black seed oil can reduce the severity of hand eczema.
- Acne: Research suggests that the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of black seed oil can improve acne. In one study, 58 percent of participants rated their response to this treatment as good, while 35 percent felt their results were moderate.
- Psoriasis: A 2012 study on mice suggests that the oil may also have antipsoriatic benefits.
Black seed oil may also hydrate hair, soften skin, and act as a moisturizer, although there is a lack of scientific evidence to confirm these benefits.