Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Jennifer E. Engen

Black seed oil is an herbal ingredient derived from the plant Nigella sativa, which is native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia (1).

Known for its powerful medicinal properties, black seed oil is a natural remedy that people use to treat a wide range of conditions, including (2):

  • headaches
  • back pain
  • high blood pressure
  • infections
  • inflammation

It also offers a long list of science-backed health and beauty benefits, thanks to its content of antioxidants and other bioactive compounds (2).

This article will take a closer look at 10 of the best evidence-based benefits of black seed oil.

Some research shows that black seed oil could be beneficial for skin conditions, such as acne.

This may be due to the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties associated with black seed oil (3).

According to one review article, when people applied a lotion made with black seed oil to a skin area with acne, they had significantly fewer acne lesions after 2 months (3).

Similarly, one study in 60 people had participants apply a topical gel made with black seed oil to the skin twice daily for 60 days.

Those who did this treatment had a 78% reduction in acne severity along with a significant improvement in the number of acne lesions compared with a control group (4).

Summary

Some studies show that black seed oil may improve acne. Researchers have suggested this may be due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.

Interestingly, some studies have found that black seed oil could aid in the treatment of psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by scaly red patches on the skin (5).

One animal study found that applying black seed oil to the skin decreased inflammation and reduced symptoms of psoriasis in rats (6).

There’s not much research currently available about the effects of black seed oil on psoriasis in people.

However, one small study in 12 people evaluated the effects of an herbal cream containing black seed oil, along with other ingredients, like olive oil, tea tree oil, cocoa butter, and vitamins A and B12 (7).

They found that 83% of participants experienced at least a 75% reduction in their psoriasis severity after applying the herbal cream to the affected area daily for 12 weeks (7).

It’s important to note that this study used black seed oil combined with other ingredients, so there’s no way to know in this case whether black seed oil was behind the beneficial effects.

More research is needed to investigate how black seed oil may affect psoriasis in people.

Summary

Some studies in humans and animals suggest that black seed oil could reduce the severity of psoriasis, but more research is needed.

Black seed oil contains a compound called thymoquinone, which has been studied for its ability to stimulate tissue growth and promote wound healing (8).

Studies in animals have found that thymoquinone may help treat burns, excisions, and diabetic wounds due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial effects (8).

For example, one animal study found that black seed extract significantly enhanced wound healing in rats with diabetes compared with a control group (9).

Another animal study showed that applying black seed oil alone or combined with honey helped improve and accelerate wound healing in rats (10).

Still, additional studies are needed to understand whether black seed oil and thymoquinone could also promote wound healing in humans.

Summary

Black seed oil contains thymoquinone, a compound that has been shown to support wound healing in some animal studies.

Thanks to its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, black seed oil is often added to hair care products, including hair masks and shampoos (11).

Though many of these products claim to improve the shine, strength, volume, and texture of hair, there is very little research on the benefits of black seed oil for hair health.

However, one very small study from 2014 found that mixing coconut oil with black seed oil increased hair growth when people applied it to their scalp three times per day (12).

Similarly, a study in 90 people showed that a hair oil containing a blend of black seed oil and other herbal ingredients significantly reduced hair loss after 90 days (13).

It’s important to note that these study treatments combined black seed oil with other ingredients, so we can’t know for sure whether black seed oil was causing the improvements in these cases.

Therefore, despite these promising results, more large, high quality studies are necessary to investigate how black seed oil could affect hair health when used on its own.

Summary

Black seed oil is often added to hair products. Some small studies show that it could increase hair growth and reduce hair loss when combined with other ingredients, but more research is needed.

Some research suggests that black seed oil could be beneficial for the treatment of vitiligo, a disorder that causes loss of pigmentation in the skin (14).

One study in 33 people with vitiligo found that applying a cream made with black seed oil to the skin twice daily improved pigmentation in the hands, face, and genital region after 6 months (15).

Another 2014 study in 52 people showed that applying black seed oil topically for 6 months significantly reduced the size of vitiligo lesions, particularly on the arms, trunk, head, and neck (16).

Researchers have suggested that the benefits of black seed oil may be due to its ability to spread melanin within the skin. Melanin is a type of natural pigment found in your hair, skin, and eyes (11).

Summary

Some research shows that black seed oil could improve symptoms of vitiligo by increasing pigmentation in the skin.

Studies have shown that black seed oil has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

This could be beneficial for multiple aspects of health, as some research suggests that inflammation could contribute to the development of many chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (17).

According to a review of 10 studies, consuming black seed oil may reduce multiple markers of inflammation while also increasing blood levels of antioxidants (18).

Not only that, but the review concluded that black seed oil may be more effective at reducing inflammation than other forms of black seed (18).

Another review of 12 studies had similar findings, noting that black seed supplements could decrease blood levels of C-reactive protein and malondialdehyde, both of which are indicators of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body (19).

Summary

Some research shows that black seed and black seed oil could decrease several markers of inflammation, which could help protect against chronic disease.

Though the exact way it works is unclear, black seed oil appears to promote weight loss and decrease body fat.

One study looked at the effects of black seed oil in 84 women with obesity.

Those who consumed 3 grams of black seed oil per day for 8 weeks and followed a low calorie diet experienced greater reductions in body weight and belly fat than those who followed a low calorie diet alone (20).

Another study in 45 women with overweight or obesity showed that taking 2,000 mg of black seed oil daily for 8 weeks decreased appetite and reduced body mass index, body weight, waist circumference, and body fat (21).

What’s more, one review of 11 studies concluded that black seed supplements could moderately reduce body weight, body mass index, and belly fat, but noted that more high quality research is still needed (22).

Summary

Black seed oil may help reduce appetite and decrease body weight and body fat, but more research is needed.

Some research shows that black seed oil could be beneficial for stabilizing blood sugar levels.

In fact, one review of 7 studies showed that black seed could help improve multiple markers of blood sugar control, including insulin levels and blood sugar levels during fasting and after a meal (23).

Another review of 23 studies had similar findings, noting that black seed was effective at reducing fasting blood sugar and decreasing levels of hemoglobin A1C, a measure of long-term blood sugar control (24).

Furthermore, a review of 17 studies even concluded that black seed oil was more effective than black seed powder at lowering fasting blood sugar levels (25).

Summary

Several studies have shown that black seed oil may improve blood sugar control and reduce fasting blood sugar levels.

Several studies have found that black seed oil could alleviate symptoms of eczema, a skin condition characterized by dry, itchy skin (26).

One small 2012 study found that black seed oil was as effective as betamethasone cream, a type of corticosteroid, at improving quality of life and reducing the severity of hand eczema when applied topically twice daily for 4 weeks (27).

An animal study also showed that oral and topical administration of thymoquinone, a compound found in black seed oil, decreased inflammation and improved symptoms of eczema in mice (28).

Black seed oil can also promote wound healing and protect against harmful bacteria. This could potentially help prevent skin infections associated with eczema (11).

However, more recent, high quality studies in humans are still needed.

Summary

Black seed oil may help improve certain symptoms of eczema and protect against skin infections, but more human studies are needed.

Research suggests that black seed oil could help prevent metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes (29, 30).

One study in 55 people with high blood pressure had participants take 2.5 mL of black seed oil twice daily for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, those who received this treatment had several positive outcomes.

They experienced reduced levels of diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and fasting blood sugar, all of which are components of metabolic syndrome (31).

Multiple other studies have found that black seed oil may reduce risk factors for metabolic syndrome by decreasing belly fat, lowering blood sugar, and improving cholesterol and blood pressure levels (22, 23, 32, 33).

However, keep in mind that a well-rounded, whole food diet and an active lifestyle are the best prevention against metabolic syndrome. Supplements like black seed oil work best as an addition to a healthy lifestyle.

Summary

Studies show that black seed oil could reduce several risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome.

Black seed oil is a powerful herbal ingredient associated with a variety of health and beauty benefits.

In particular, it may ease inflammation, lower blood sugar levels, improve skin and hair health, and help you manage your weight.

It’s also versatile, affordable, and widely available at most pharmacies and health stores, making it a great ingredient to have on hand.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/black-seed-oil-benefits

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