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The Healing Powers Of Black Seeds
In the early twentieth century, the pharmaceutical drug industry began to form and began promoting new pills and other products as the ideal treatments for all manner of disease. Around this same time, many people (at least in industrialized countries in the Western world) began to forget about traditional folk remedies and natural treatments. In all folk medicine traditions, food was viewed as the ideal natural medicine, and one of the most widely praised of these was nigella sativa, or black seeds.
What Are Black Seeds?
Most people have probably encountered this spice before, but since it goes by so many different names, they may not be aware of it. Black seed is also referred to as Roman coriander, black cumin, fennel flower and black caraway. Whatever you choose to call black seeds, they’ve been used as a medicinal spice in many different cultures over the centuries.
These seeds come from the flower of the ranunculaceae family, which is native to the Middle East and is related to buttercups. Black seeds have a bitter taste, and are used as an ingredient in many dishes in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine.
The Health Benefits of Black Seeds
Cancer-fighting properties. In one study on lab rats with colon cancer, treatment with black seeds was able to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. What was amazing about this was that the beneficial compounds in black seeds specifically targeted the cancer cells, rather than indiscriminately targeting all fast-dividing cells the way chemotherapy does.
Other forms of cancer also appear to be treatable with thymoquinone, a compound extracted from black seed. One study found that it was able to kill breast cancer cells, and another produced similar results in glioblastoma, a particularly serious form of brain cancer. A study done in China found that thymoquinone has the ability to fight mouth cancer, as well.
Finally, research has also shown this compound’s effectiveness at combating leukemia.
While more research certainly needs to be done on the cancer-fighting abilities of black seed extracts, this is very promising news for people interested in alternative cancer treatments.
Compounds in black seeds are also effective against MRSA, or staph infections that don’t respond to standard treatment with antibiotics. A study at the University of Health Sciences in Pakistan found that strains of MRSA exposed to nigella sativa extract saw their growth inhibited. This is potentially life-saving news for patients all over the world dealing with treatment-resistant staph infections. As more and more disease strains emerge that are immune to antibiotics, traditional remedies like black seeds may see a huge comeback.
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Black Seeds and Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C, or “Hep C,” is a serious disease spread by a virus that affects the liver. It’s a treatable but incurable condition. If left untreated, Hep C can cause serious liver damage, cancer or even liver failure.
Hep C treatment can be expensive, and it obviously requires a lifelong treatment plan, so many people in developing countries who contract it are unable to get access to conventional treatment. An Egyptian medical study involving black seeds, however, offers hope to those living with Hep C who are seeking alternative treatments.
This 2013 study was published in World Journal of Gastroenterology, and the researchers sought to discover how effective black seed-based treatment would be for Hep C patients who either couldn’t afford the standard treatment or couldn’t tolerate the side effects.
Over the course of three months, the study participants were given a 450 milligram gel tablet of black seed oil three times every day after meals. The researchers found that this alternative treatment produced “significant improvement in viral load, oxidative stress and laboratory markers.” They recommended larger follow-up studies be conducted to gain more data, but the results are very promising for Hep C patients who are hoping for an alternative form of treatment.
We’re just beginning to discover the full extent of what black seeds may be capable of doing for our health. Modern science is shedding light on what our ancestors knew for thousands of years—that nature often produces the best medicine. There’s a reason that an old Arab proverb referred to black seed as “the remedy for everything but death.”