Black Seeds (Nigella sativa) Medical Application and Pharmaceutical Perspectives : Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences

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Review Article

Black Seeds (Nigella sativa) Medical Application and Pharmaceutical Perspectives

Ferizi, Rrahman1; Ramadan, Mohamed F.2; Maxhuni, Qenan3

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Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences 15(2):p 63-67, Apr–Jun 2023. | DOI: 10.4103/jpbs.jpbs_364_22
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Among the various medicinal plants, the black seed is emerging as a miracle herb with a rich historical background, as much research has revealed its wide spectrum of pharmacological potential. In this collection of literature, we have encountered and presented the preclinical treatment, as alternative medicine of Nigella sativa in the prevention and treatment of various diseases, as well as those that continue to be discovered by contemporary actual scientific data. Research to date has confirmed the pharmacological potential of the seed of Nigella sativa, its oil and extracts of some of its bioactive constituents, which possess remarkable pharmacological activity, in vitro and in vivo against a large spectrum of diseases, and it has been found that the use of black seed is relatively safe. Black Seed has been extensively studied for its biological activity and therapeutic potential and has been found to possess a broad spectrum of activities. Clinical trial investigations into the therapeutic effects of Nigella sativa affect the hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, and bronchodilator effects and have passed clinical trials and received the green light to allow the next stage of clinical trials toward therapeutic drug design. However, there is still room and multidimensional research needed for prospective clinical trials in certain groups of animals before they can be applied to humans as pharmaceutical therapies.


Medicinal herbs have been used to cure diseases for many centuries in various forms of folk medicine application. Furthermore, medicinal herbs are used in the preparation of herbal medicines as they are considered to be safer than modern medicines. Many researchers have focused on medicinal plants as only a few plant species have been thoroughly researched for potential medicinal properties, potential, mechanism of action, efficacy assessment, and toxicological studies.

Among the various medicinal plants, the black seed (Family Ranunculaceae) is emerging as a miracle herb with a rich historical and religious background, as much research has revealed its wide spectrum of pharmacological potential.

Black Seed and its oil have been used for centuries in the treatment of various diseases worldwide. It is an important plant in traditional fields of medicine known as Unani and Ayurveda. Among Muslims, it is considered one of the greatest forms of medical healing available because it is mentioned in sayings of the Prophet Muhammad that Black Seed is a cure for all diseases.[1]

Black Seed has been extensively studied for its biological activity and therapeutic potential and has been found to possess a broad spectrum of activities such as antioxidant[1] anti-cough,[2] gastroprotective,[3] anti-anxiety,[4] anti-ulcer,[5] anti-asthmatic,[6] anti-cancer,[7] anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory,[8] antitumor,[9] hepatoprotective,[10] cures gastric ulcers,[11] slows tumor growth,[12] improves memory,[13] stimulates milk production,[14] has antibacterial activity,[15] etc.

The use of herbal medicines as alternative medicine is spreading and gaining wide popularity worldwide. Many medicines are extracted directly from plants, while others are naturally occurring chemically modified (synthetic) products.

Research date has confirmed the pharmacological potential of the seed of Nigella sativa, its oil and extracts of some of its bioactive constituents, particularly thymoquinone and alpha-hederine, which possess remarkable pharmacological activity, in vitro and in vivo against a large spectrum of diseases, and it has been found that the use of Black Seed is relatively safe.[16]

The anatomy of the plant

The black seed is an annual herbaceous plant from the Ranunculaceae family, is indigenous to southern Europe, North Africa, and Southwest Asia, and is cultivated in many countries around the world such as India, Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.

It is a common plant whose stalk grows from 20 to 90 cm. This plant has well-separated leaves and flowers usually white, yellow, pink, pale blue, or pale purple, with five–ten petals.

The flowers grow at the ends of the branches, while the leaves grow in pairs against each other on the other side of the stalk. When its flower dries, the Black Seed ripens. Black Seed is a plant that reproduces itself and forms a fruit capsule with three–seven fused follicles composed of many white seeds. When the fruit capsule is ripe, it opens and the seeds inside are exposed to the air, turning black. Seeds are angular, generally small, size (1–3 mm), and gray or dark black. The seeds have a slightly bitter and sour taste.


The use of black seed has its origins more than 2500 years ago. It is mentioned in the Greek medical literature, adding to the fact that it played an important role in ancient practices in the field of medicine applied even by the Egyptians themselves.

The black seed was discovered in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun leaving it to be understood that it played an important role in the ancient practices of Egypt.[17] The earliest past references to the Black Seed are found in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament.[18] Easston’s Bible Dictionary explains that the Hebrew word “ketsah” undoubtedly refers to the plant Nigella sativa.

It is referred to as “Melanthion” by Hippocrates and Dioscorides[17] who have recorded that this seed has been used to treat headaches, flu, toothaches, and intestinal parasites. They have also been used as a urinary stimulant, stimulant, and milk supplement in breastfeeding mothers. The scientist Ibn Sina-AVICENA (980-1037), in his well-known book “The Encyclopedia of Medicine” (considered the most famous book in the history of medicine, is considered to have been used as the basic literature in medicine European until the seventeenth century) said: “Black seed acts as a means of extracting phlegm, stimulates bodily energy and helps in rehabilitation after fatigue and lethargy.”[18]

Arabic medicine

As narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said: “There is no disease for which Nigella seed does not provide remedy” and “in black seed there is healing for every disease,” then, “Use this black seed. For indeed it contains a cure for every disease.”[19]

Muslims all over the world have used historically and promoted the use of the Black Seed for hundreds of years, and a lot of articles have been written about it. However, many Muslims, today, do not know that Black Seed is not only a medicinal plant, but it also holds a special place in the medicine of the Prophet Muhammad. Although, many natural herbs and cures in the Qur’an and Prophet sayings are mentioned briefly leaving scholars to explore their benefits. The Black Seed is a unique relic that is said to have “a cure for all diseases except death” and is also said to “Abstain.” which means continuity. Its peculiarity is that it was not used extensively before the Prophet Muhammad and he made it very popular, and it is one of the few plants that is described in detail with recipes and instructions.

Although, there were more than 400 plants in use before the Prophet Muhammad recorded by Galen and Hipokrat. Black seed was not one of the most popular cures of the time. Due to the spread of Islam in various countries, the use and popularity of the Black Seed have spread and it is known worldwide as the “Medicine of the Muhammad Messenger.”

In fact, since it became popular in the seventh century, there has never been a period in Islamic history when its use was ever banned. All the while, the Black Seed has been used for healing but also with the belief in the benefits that will flow from the traditional practice of the Prophet Muhammad. In addition to the above sayings, there are records in the history books of the Prophet Muhammad that show that the Prophet Muhammad used the Black Seed with honey regularly.

Chemical composition

Numerous studies have been done to identify the composition of Black Seed (Nigella sativa). Ingredients of Nigella sativa seeds include oils, proteins, carbohydrates, alkaloids, saponins, and essential oils.

Fixed oil [non-volatile] (32–40%) contains unsaturated fatty acids which include arachidonic acid, eicosadienoic, linoleic, oleic, palmitic, stearic, and myristic acid, as well as beta-sitosterol, cycloeucalenol, cycloartenol, sterols, esters, and sterol glucosides.[20]

Volatile oil (0.4–2.45%) contains saturated fatty acids, which include Nigellone (which is the only component of the carbonyl fraction), thymoquinone (TQ), thymohydroquinone (THQ), ditimoquinone, thymol, karva-krol, α and β-pinene, d-limonene, d-citronellol, and p-cimene and also contains t-anethole, 4-terpineol, and longifoline.[21]

Black Seed has two different forms of alkaloids: isoquinoline alkaloids which include nigellicimine, nigellici-mine n-oxide, and pyrazole alkaloids which include nigellidine and nigellicine.[22] Nutritional compositions of Black Seed are vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, fats, and proteins (containing eight or nine essential amino acids).

Black Seed also has saponin and alpha hederine of course not found in traces of lemons and citronellol, just as it should be possible with vitamins and minerals that are different such as Fe, Ca, K, Zn, P, and Cu.[23] The greatest pharmacological effects are due to the component of the substance quinone, of which thymoquinone (TQ) predominates.

It was found that thymoquinone possesses these activities:

  • - anticonvulsant,[24]
  • - antioxidant,[25]
  • - anti-inflammatory,[26]
  • - anti-carcinogen,[27]
  • - antibacterial,[28] and
  • - antifungal.[29]

The benefits of Black Seed

Raw black seed, in its full form, aids in the body’s natural healing process, in overcoming disease or maintaining health. It acts on those parts of the body that are considered to be affected by the disease without disturbing the natural balance.

The effect of the combined nutritional and medicinal value of Black Seed is that it not only helps to alleviate the current condition, but also helps the body to build further resistance against future diseases (acquired immunity). Although historical evidence shows the use of Black Seed for a wide variety of diseases, we have limited the descriptions of the main healing properties in the latest scientific research findings on Black Seed.


Black seed as a daily health supplement

Most drugs work best when given the chance to perform their full function. Based on the essential nutritional components, as well as the specific medical content, the ‘body’s ability to maintain health and maintain a stable and natural balance is significantly enhanced through regular use of Black Seed.

Black Seed as a source of energy

Ibn Sina-Avicena (980-1037) Description of Black Seed: “Black seed acts as a means of extracting phlegm, stimulates bodily energy and helps in rehabilitation after fatigue and lethargy” is still successful for the practitioners of Tibb Nebevij (Medicine of the Messenger) today. The high nutritional value of Black Seed as described by scientific analysis also points to it as a great source of energy. From the perspective of Tibb Nebevij, Black Seed has the ability to store and restore the body’s energy. Western diets, made mainly from cold foods (ice in our drinks, yogurt, pizza, cheese, etc.), all reduce the body’s internal energy, which is necessary for the body to function optimally. Tibb Nebevij considers that a reduced rate of metabolism is the cause of most diseases. The body, with the loss of energy, loses the ability to fight external toxins, increasing the chances of disease.

Black Seed and medicines

Black seed can be used in combination with other medicines, whether natural or conventional. It is not recommended that black seed be used exclusively for the treatment of serious health complaints which require immediate action. For example, some cases of acute bronchitis require conventional antibiotics to prevent the condition from becoming more severe. However, Black Seed can be used as a therapeutic aid to combat the side effects from the use of antibiotics or other strong drugs that are chemically based [Table 1].

Table 1:
Scientific names of plants mentioned in the examples

Pregnancy and lactation

Black seed is not recommended during pregnancy, but is recommended during lactation. This is a great form of nutrition for the growing mother and baby, while the boosting immune system properties of Black Seed serve as a natural and safe way to build disease resistance. In addition, studies have shown that Black Seed helps increase milk production.

Babies and children

In addition to its many nutrients, black seed contains the protein keratin in our body, and this protein is converted into Vitamin A, which is one of the main nutrients of the body and helps for better health, which performs various functions related to immunity and cell proliferation of the body. Black Seed gives children all the energy they need for this active phase of life. Regular use of Black Seed, which increases its effect on strengthening immunity in the body, will reduce the length and impact of common diseases of children, especially during the winter, when children are more susceptible to colds and influenza. Children are given half the recommended dose for parents. It is not given to babies at all.

The elderly

With its rich nutritional and energy value combined with strengthening the immune system, Black Seed is an ideal health supplement for the elderly.

Soap and shampoo from Black Seed.

Black Seed soap and shampoo is an amalgam containing more than 100 valuable ingredients. It is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, so it has powerful effects on the skin and hair.

It therapeutically formulated to remove blemishes from the skin and soften irritated skin as a result of painful injuries.

It preserves the skin and cleanses it from impurities leaving a smooth appearance from hydration and ingredients and helps control sweat production by the sweat glands.

Its antiseptic and antibiotic properties make it necessary as a means of treating small cuts, treats minor skin problems, and helps prevent scar formation.

How to use

In the morning and evening, cleanse the face with soap and lukewarm water for a few minutes, while the hair is foamed and then rinsed as usually.

Examples of the use of Black Seed and its oil for various diseases


Black seed is not a medicine or substitute.

Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should consult a pharmacist, physician, or other healthcare professional before applying any of the examples.

Examples of the use of Black Seed and its oil for various diseases and problems that we have brought are taken from books or websites that deal with folk medicine and as such do not possess references—science, so we have not brought references to them either.

It is not recommended for use by pregnant women (can only be used for external use).

It is not used by persons with transplanted organs (can only be used externally).

For children, half is the recommended dose to increase, while babies are not given at all.

The use of Black Seed or oil in larger quantities does not increase the effect, the maximum daily dose for each disease is not recommended to exceed three teaspoons per day (15 g of seeds or 15 ml of oil).

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest regarding this investigation.


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Black Seed; clinical trials; disease; nigella sativa; quality

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