Black seed oil is made from the seeds of the black cumin (Nigella sativa) plant which belongs to the ranunculus family (Ranunculaceae). The black cumin plant is native to southwestern Asia, the Mediterranean and Africa. It has been grown for centuries for its aromatic and flavorful seeds that can be used as a spice or as an herbal medicine. Black seed oil is also commonly called black cumin seed oil.
Quite possibly, the most promising research has been done connecting Nigella sativa to multi-drug resistant bacteria. This is a real big deal because these so-called “superbugs” are becoming a significant public health risk. According to the National Institute of Health:
- Strains of bacteria and viruses that are antimicrobial-resistant are becoming virtually impossible to treat; including HIV, staphylococcal, tuberculosis, influenza, gonorrhea, candida and malaria.
- Between 5 percent–10 percent of all hospital patients develop an infection from superbugs.
- More than 90,000 of these patients die every year, up from 13,300 patient deaths in 1992.
- People infected with superbugs typically have longer hospital stays, require more complicated treatment and don’t recover as well.
A study conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College researchers set out to determine just how potent black seed oil against some of these superbugs and paired it against several antibiotics, such as Amoxicillin, Gatifloxacin and Tetracycline. According to the study, “Out of 144 strains tested, most of which were resistant to a number of antibiotics, 97 were inhibited by the oil of black cumin.”
Next to oregano oil, few things on the planet can boast this type of potency to microbes. The study uncovered that it was especially effective against multi-drug resistant strains of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus.
The key to understanding why black seed oils benefits the body in this way is because it’s rich in three key natural chemicals: thymoquinone (TQ), thymohydroquinone (THQ) and thymol.
The Power Behind Black Seed Oil Benefits: Phytochemicals
In an effort to offer a solution to the growing antifungal resistant problem people have with yeasts and molds, a recent study was conducted with the purpose of determining if Nigella sativa seed oil could help. Published in the Egyptian Journal of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, scientists tested thymol, TQ and THQ against 30 human pathogens and were surprised to discover that:
- Each compound showed 100% inhibition for the thirty pathogens evaluated.
- Thymoquinone was the best antifungal compound against all of the tested dermatophytes and yeasts, followed by thymohydroquinone and thymol.
- Thymol was the best antifungal against molds followed by TQ and THQ.
What this study tells us is that Nigella sativa oil carries a very unique chemical constituency that is not only effective individually, but more importantly also collectively. Essentially proving that fungus and molds cannot exist in the presence of these phytochemicals, it is no wonder why researchers are seeking to solve the superbug problem with black seed oil.
Thymoquinone – An active ingredient in black seed, researchers have been investigating TQ since the 1960s. It is well known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties that have been reported to help with encephalomyelitis, diabetes, asthma and carcinogenesis.
Interestingly, thymoquinone acts as a free radical or an effective superoxide radical scavenger, in addition to preserving antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase. Both Glutathione peroxidase and S-transferase are heralded for being major detoxifiers and greatly aid in cellular antioxidant defense systems because they protect the liver from toxins.
Thymohydroquinone – Akin to thymoqinone, thymohydroquinone is one of the most potent natural acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors on the planet. AChE inhibitors are chemicals that stop enzyme activity, which increases the amount of time and the amount of the neurotransmitter acetylecholine remains active in the brain.
To give you an idea of their usefulness, pharmaceutical-grade acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are used medicinally to treat a wide range of conditions including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Myasthenia gravis
- Neurodegenerative conditions
- Postural Tachycardia Syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease