BLACK CUMIN, Nigella sativa


Latin name:  Nigella sativa

English name: Small Fennel, Black Cumin

Sanskrit name: Kalonji, Kalajira, Kalajaji, Mugrela, Upakuncika

Medicinal parts used: Seeds

Black cumin is an annual herbaceous plant and a member of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family. The fruit of the plant, the black seeds, accounts for its name. Black cumin seed (also called black seed) should not be confused with the herb, cumin (Cumunum cyminum).

Considered native to the Mediterranean region, black cumin seed is cultivated in North Africa, Asia, and south Eastern Europe. The largest producers of black cumin seed are Egypt, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.

It is one the most revered medicinal seeds in history. The seeds give on steam-distillation a yellowish brown volatile oil with an unpleasant odour. The oil contains carvone, d -limonene, and a carbonyl compound, nigellone.

Therapeutic use:

  • The alcoholic extract of the seeds is reported to prevent dental caries. It contains nourishing amino acids such as cysteine, lysine, valine and leucine.
  • The seed oil showed antibacterial, insecticidal, bronchiodilatory, hypotensive, and immunostimulant activities.
  • An infusion is used in the treatment of digestive and menstrual disorders, insufficient lactation and bronchial complaints.
  • 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.
  • The seeds are much used in India to increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers and they can also be used to treat intestinal worms, especially in children.
  • Its oil has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and boils and to treat cold symptoms.
  • The powdered seed has been used to remove lice from the hair.
  • Externally, the seed is ground into a powder, mixed with sesame oil and used to treat abscesses, haemorrhoids and orchitis.

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