KALONJI (CUMIN OR BLACK SEED)
For centuries, the Black Seed herb and oil have been used by millions of people in Asia, Middle East, parts of Europe and Africa to support their health. An aromatic spice, small and similar in size to sesame seed, it has been traditionally used for a variety of conditions and treatments related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal health, kidney and liver function, circulatory and immune system support, and for general overall well-being. Deeper research suggest that it was used as early as the 5th century B.C. by Hippocrates and by Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides.
The first known study on Black Seed was published in 1959 and since then, hundreds of studies at international universities and articles published in various journals have shown remarkable results supporting the benefits and uses of Black Seed alone or combined with other complimentary herbs.
Another important ancient reference to Black Seed's use is from Prophet Muhammad. Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) saying, "There is healing in black cumin for all diseases except death." Sahih al-Bukhari 5688( Vol7: 592) and Sahih al-Bukhari 5687
Arabic:Habba Souda, Habbat al-Barakah;
Other Name: Fennel Flower, Black Cumin Nigella sativa; Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
Black Seed is grown in various countries and therefore known by many names such as Black Cumin(Egypt), Black Caraway(Turkey), Kalonji(India and surrounding countries), Habbatul Baraka or the Blessed Seed(Middle East), among others. Its botanical name is Nigella Sativa. Ever since its introduction to the United States in the late 1980's, it has been commonly referred to as 'Black Seed' or 'Black Cumin' and often used as a spice in traditional Indian and Middle Eastern and Persian cuisines.
Native to the Mediterranean and grown throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia, Nigella sativa is cultivated for its seeds, which are known as the “seeds of blessing.” For the Arabs, black seed is not only a food but also a valued traditional medicine that has long been used to treat such ailments as asthma, flatulence, polio, kidney stones, abdominal pain and so on. It has served as an important health and beauty aid for thousands of years.
Since 1959, there have been over 200 studies at international universities and articles published in various journals showing remarkable results supporting some of its traditional uses. In 1960, Egyptian researchers isolated that Nigellone, which is only found in Black Seed and responsible for its broncho-dialating effect. Recently scientists in Europe studied the anti-bacterial and anti-mycotic effects of black seed oil. Scientists at the Cancer and Immuno-Biological Laboratory reported in a study that Black Seed may stimulate bone marrow and immune cells and may raise the interferon production, protect normal cells against cell destroying effects of viruses, and raise the number of anti-bodies producing B cells.
Effects of Black Seed and Prostaglandin E1 on the Immune System
Through the formation of Protaglandin E1, the complete immune system is harmonized and the body’s over-reactive allergic reactions are stabilized. By also inhibiting infection, the immune system is able to prevent and control chronic illnesses. Healthy cells are protected from the damaging effects of viruses, inhibiting tumors. As a result Interferon cell protein is formed, inhibiting growth of damaging micro-organisms. Recently independent clinical studies in the Archives of Aids described the possible effects of Black Seed on the defense system by improving the ratio between helper T-cells and suppressor T-cells by a significant amount while also enhancing the natural killer cell activity.
Black Seed herb contains over 100 components, many of which still remain to be discovered. It is a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids and contains about 35% oil, 21% protein, and 38% carbohydrates. More than 50% of the oil are essential fatty acids.
Amazingly Black Seed's chemical composition is very rich and diverse. Aside from its primary ingredient, crystalline nigellone, Black Seed contains 15 amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, both fixed oils (84% fatty acids, including linolenic, and oleic), and volatile oils, alkaloids, saponin, and crude fiber, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium and potassium. There are still many components in Black Seed that haven't been identified. But research is going on around the world. *
How to use
According to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad(S) described black seed as a cure for every disease except death. The great physician Ibn Sina (980 - 1037), better known as Avicenna, stated that black seed works as an expectorant, stimulates the body’s energy and helps overcome fatigue and dispiritedness.
- Eat black seeds plain;
- Eat a teaspoon of black seed mixed with honey;
- Boil black seed with water. Strain and drink;
- Heat black seed and warm milk until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat. Cool, then drink;
- Grind black seed and swallow it with water or milk;
- Sprinkle on bread and pastries;
- Burn black seed with bukhoor (incense) for a pleasant scent.
In the kitchen:Black seed is aromatic with a slight peppery flavor. It is one of the distinct flavors of Arab pastries. It is often sprinkled on breads and cheese. It is heated with milk for flavor. It is eaten ground with honey or with cakes and pastries.
Remedies across Arabia:In Arabia, black seed remains a traditional remedy for asthma, coughs, stomach aches, abdominal pain, colic, general fatigue, rheumatism, mouth and larynx diseases, skin diseases and cancer. It is also believed to strengthen a mother after childbirth; stimulate menstruation, urination and liver functions; aid digestion; dissolve kidney stones; and increase intelligence. Black seed is used to beautify skin, nourish hair and stimulate hair growth.
Black seed oil
Both are equally effective, but Black Seed oil is more concentrated and contains greater amounts of essential fatty acids. Caution should be taken when using low quality imported black seed oil because many oil products are imported and be adulterated or mixed with carrier oils. Some oils coming from the Middle East are extracted with heat and hexane, a petroleum by-product. Always use a product that is labeled as 100%, cold-pressed, solvent free, and packed and sealed by machine.
Black Seed's medicinal use has a very rich traditional history that goes beyond ancient Eygptian and Biblical times. Some sources suggest that a bottle containing Black Seed was found in Tutankhamen's tomb and a biblical reference to it is noted in the Old Testament. (Isaiah 28: 25, 27)
Honey; Olive; Dates; Ajwa Dates; Health care in Islam; Healthy eating; Fruits in Quran;