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The Benefits and Uses of Black Seed Oil

May 10, 2021

Black seed oil, from the plant Nigella sativa, has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years. Its myriad benefits are still trusted — and proven — today.

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What Is Black Seed Oil?

Black seed oil comes from a plant called Nigella sativa and is known by many different names, including black cumin, nigella and kalojeera, just to name a few. Its reputed health benefits are myriad and its usage as a remedy for wounds and illnesses dates back to ancient times, says Dr. Jenelle Kim, a doctor of Chinese medicine and founder of JBK Wellness Labs, which makes the formulas for hair and skincare products you can find at Whole Foods and in some luxury hotels. The benefits of this incredible herb are astonishing, she says. She’s seen a resurgence in black seed oil’s popularity over the past year as people have started paying much closer attention to their health and seeking more herbal remedies.

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How Should You Use Black Seed Oil?

Before you go slathering it all over your skin, know that it’s often best used as an ingredient rather than on its own says Dr. Kim. She says she comes from a long lineage of Korean herbalists and has seen a boom in the popularity of black seed oil over the past year as people have started paying much closer attention to their health. “A lot of these ingredients that might seem new to us have actually been [used] in history for so long,” she says, “and to me that just gives that much more certainty and understanding of why it’s lasted, is because it’s so effective.” The ancient physician Hippocrates recorded therapeutic benefits of Nigella sativa more than 2,000 years ago, according to a paper published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal in 2017. Dr. Kim says she takes black seed oil capsules as a supplement and she also recommends seeking it out as an ingredient in haircare and skincare products. Just be aware that supplements are regulated by the FDA as food, not drugs, so check with your doctor before taking black seed oil supplements.

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Black Seed Oil May Relieve Inflammation Caused by Asthma

The anti-inflammatory properties of black seed oil may help reduce inflammation in the airway caused by asthma, according to Dr. Kim, the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal paper and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website. Nigella sativa has been a documented remedy for shortness of breath since at least the 1200s, according to the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal paper, though its authors concluded more studies are necessary to prove the degree of its usefulness.

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Black Seed Oil Can Help Reduce Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

“Traditionally, it is used to treat a variety of diseases or disorders that are associated with the respiratory system, digestive tract, kidney and liver function, cardiovascular system and immune system support,” says Dr. Jerry Bailey, an acupuncturist, chiropractic and functional medicine physician. Thanks to being packed with fatty acids, it can help reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol, he and Dr. Kim say.

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