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Black Seed Oil Benefits
The healing properties of black seed (Nigella sativa) oil have been known for thousands of years. It has been used both orally and topically fight disease in many different practices of medicine through-out the ages. In our modern times its actions and efficacy is increasingly backed by solid scientific understanding and an evidence base.
The use of black seed oil to beautify and improve the skin condition is well established; in fact, the famed beauty of Cleopatra is believed to be in part due to her use of black seeds. The oil of the Nigella sativa is packed with valuable components like vitamins A, B, and C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and trace elements providing the necessary nutritive factors for skin recovery and repair. Black seed oil also has a number of useful pharmacological actions which make it a fantastic natural option for treating diseases of the skin.
Black Seed and Psoriasis
Psoriasis is skin condition in which scaly pink plaques appear over the body, these can be sore and itchy and can be a source of embarrassment. The condition is caused by an abnormal immune reaction in the body causing abnormal proliferation of the epidermal layer of skin.
Black seed oil is well recognized to regulate the body's immune cells (up regulating some and down regulating others), [i] it also enhances the body's ability to deal with abnormal cell proliferation. [ii]
Traditionally, black seeds have been applied externally for psoriatic skin to manage the general pain and patches of eruption. A recent lab based study examined the effect of nigella sativa seed extract on an animal model of psoriasis, they examined the histological (cellular level) effects and found that Nigella sativa has anti-psoriatic activity and concluded that the external application is beneficial in the management of psoriasis.[iii]
Black Seed and Eczema
Eczema is a condition characterized by skin inflammation. Itchy, red, patches appear, which can weep and crust. It commonly affects around joints and the mainstay of treatment is with moisturizers and steroid creams. In severe cases systemic immunosuppression is needed.
Black seed oil has fantastic emollient properties, forming a non-greasy film and providing nutritive factors the skin needs. A clinical trial which compared the effects of Nigella sativa oil applied twice daily compared to a conventional steroid cream (Betamethasone) for hand eczema found both to be equally effective in reducing symptoms.[iv] The clear benefit of black seed oil over steroid use is its lack of side effects.
In addition to fighting bacteria that causes acne, black seed oil also fights fungus. Black seed oil has proven anti-fungal effects against the common skin fungal infectious organisms (dermatophytes) which cause conditions like fungal nail infections, athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm. [v]
Acne is a multifactorial condition which commonly affects teenagers however can persist into adulthood. It can result in disfiguring scarring. A number of factors are thought to contribute to the disease including hormonal, dietary, localized skin inflammatory response and infections.
Black seed oil has several properties which can reduce the symptoms of acne including anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects. The nutritive factors in the oil can also help in repair and regeneration of damaged skin. Black seed oil is also a natural anti-histamine ideal for treating for skin conditions related to allergy.
Black Seed and Skin Cancers
Cancer occurs when cells become abnormal and replicate in an uncontrolled way. The cells which make up the layers of skin are the most highly exposed in the body and hence skin cancer is one of the most common forms of human cancer. Globally, approximately one million new cases occur annually and this is increasing year on year. The two most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, in both of these prolonged ultraviolet light exposure is a risk major factor.
Nigella sativa has been proven to have a range of anti-cancer effects against many different abnormal cell types. [vi] Specific effects against skin cancer cells have been demonstrated.
Squamous cell carcinomas affect the epidermal layer of the skin; they can spread and invade surrounding tissues. Nigella sativa extract has been found to be effective against squamous cell carcinoma cells in vitro (using human skin cancer cells cultured cells in a lab), the study found that the active anti-cancer extract from black seeds (Thymoquinone) inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in squamous cell carcinoma. The authors conclude that Thymoquinone is a potential antineoplastic therapy in this common skin cancer.
Benefits of Black Seed Oil for Skin Complexion
The powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and nutritive properties of black seed oil can help to restore the natural health and vitality of skin. The oil can be taken orally or applied and massaged directly into the skin. The rich array of oils provides deep skin moisturization. Additionally vitamin A, amino acids and fatty acids work together to help skin regeneration.
It is difficult to fully describe the way black seed oil works in a single article; Nigella sativa is a truly magical plant with complex properties we are just beginning to understand.
[i] Alshatwi AA. Bioactivity-guided identification to delineate the immunomodulatory effects of methanolic extract of Nigella sativa seed on human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Chin J Integr Med. 2014 Mar 2. [Epub ahead of print]
[ii] Majdalawieh AF, Hmaidan R, Carr RI. Nigella sativa modulates splenocyte proliferation, Th1/Th2 cytokine profile, macrophage function and NK anti-tumor activity. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Sep 15;131(2):268-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.06.030. Epub 2010 Jun 30.
[iii] Dwarampudi LP, Palaniswamy D, Nithyanantham M et al. Antipsoriatic activity and cytotoxicity of ethanolic extract of Nigella sativa seeds. Pharmacogn Mag. 2012 Oct;8(32):268-72. doi: 10.4103/0973-1296.103650.
[iv] Yousefi M, Barikbin B, Kamalinejad M et al. Comparison of therapeutic effect of topical Nigella with Betamethasone and Eucerin in hand eczema. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Dec;27(12):1498-504. doi: 10.1111/jdv.12033. Epub 2012 Dec 1.
[v] Aljabre SH, Randhawa MA, Akhtar N, et al. Antidermatophyte activity of ether extract of Nigella sativa and its active principle, thymoquinone. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Oct 3;101(1-3):116-9.
[vi] Khan MA, Chen HC, Tania M, et al. Anticancer activities of Nigella sativa (black cumin). Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):226-32. doi: 10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.10. Epub 2011 Jul 3.