Nigella Sativa: The Top Health Benefits Of Black Seed Oil Extract

Nigella Sativa: The Top Health Benefits Of Black Seed Oil Extract

Nigella Sativa Extract, also known as Black Seed Extract, Black Seed Oil, Nigella Sativa Oil, Black Cumin, or Kalonji, is a seed extract that comes from a plant that is native to Southwestern Asia. Nigella Sativa seeds have been used for over 2000 years for their aroma and flavor in cuisines as well as their reported health benefit properties. In fact, archaeologists found black seeds in King Tut’s tomb and the Prophet Muhammad once touted black seed oil extract as a “cure for every disease except death.” While we now know that this statement is very much hyperbolic, many modern-day studies have since found that black seed oil extract does, in fact, contain many potential benefits for our overall health and cognition.

What are the Benefits of Black Seed Oil?

Nigella Sativa
Nigella Sativa Seeds

Traditionally, black seed oil extract has been used for pain management support, digestive health, promoting healthy levels of inflammation, and skin health to name a few. In no particular order though, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the most profound benefits of this ancient seed from the Nigella Sativa plant.

Nigella Sativa Scientific Research

1. Nigella Sativa Supports Cognitive Function & Memory

Given that Acetylcholine is an extremely important compound in the body for memory retention, brain function, muscle function, REM sleep, and endocrine system regulation, it would make sense that you would want enough available for your body to use efficiently. Thankfully, black seed extract has a powerful ability to inhibit AChE, an enzyme that breaks down Acetylcholine in the body. This effect can be attributed to it’s high Thymohydroquinone content, one of the strongest natural acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. By inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, acetylcholine is broken down at a much slower rate. This allows for more activation of cognition enhancing acetylcholine receptors such as the alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and the M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor.

Nigella Sativa
Acetylcholine Structure

What Does Acetylcholine Do For Our Bodies and Brain?

Taking a deeper look into the benefits of one of the most prominent and powerful neurotransmitter in the brain, Acetylcholine has been shown to promote neuroplasticity, which is directly correlated with learning and memory. Cholinergic neuroplasticity is likely regulated by the alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Activation of the alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor causes a release of glutamate in key areas of the brain that are important for neuroplasticity. The release of glutamate caused by activation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors leads to a higher ratio of AMPA and NMDA receptors. These receptors play a key role in neuroplasticity by driving a process called long term potentiation (LTP). During LTP, activation of NMDA receptors by glutamate causes a cellular response which leads to the insertion of an AMPA receptor onto the neuron.

Activation of AMPA receptors increases the sensitivity of NMDA receptors, and thus, the likelihood that NMDA receptors become activated increases as more AMPA receptors are inserted. This creates a loop where more and more AMPA receptors are inserted. This ultimately leads to a much stronger connection between neurons, and this process is one of the main ways by which neuroplasticity is driven. This is why, glutamate release caused by activation of alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors leads to increased neuroplasticity, as there is a higher likelihood NMDA receptors will become activated.

Thymoquinone from Black Seed Oil Extract and its Effects on Acetylcholine

A recent study also found evidence for thymoquinone being a direct activator of alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. As discussed above, this is obviously very interesting from a neuroplasticity point of view. However, it is also very interesting from an inflammation point of view. The alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor is one of the main regulators of inflammation within the brain. By activating the alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, we can promote healthy levels of inflammation in the brain. This is crucial, as inflammation has been demonstrated to adversely affect cognitive function. Furthermore, it appears that inflammation can bottleneck neuroplasticity. Anecdotally, regulating brain inflammation is believed to reduce brain fog, resulting in clearer thinking.

Nigella Sativa
Thymoquinone Structure

Furthermore, the thymoquinone content of black seed oil appears to be a non-selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. Inhibiting HDACs may promote neuroplasticity by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), as theorized. BDNF acts on a receptor called the TrkB receptor and activation of this receptor sets into motion a large neuronal cascade that ends in enhancement of neuroplasticity. To read more about the effects of BDNF in relation to neuroplasticity, it is worth reading our 7,8-DHF blog which explains this in a more in depth manner. The net result however, is that both via cholinergic mechanisms and HDAC mechanisms, black seed oil can enhance overall neuroplasticity. This is would not be surprising as black seed oil supplements appears to lead to significant memory and mood support.

Black Seed Enhances Memory

One study done on rats showed that 20 weeks of daily black seed supplement intake improved memory formation. In another human study, 40 volunteers received either 500mg of black seed extract twice daily for 9 weeks or a placebo. After 9 weeks, the scores showed a significant difference in the black seed supplement group, with their scores in a logical memory test far exceeding the placebo group.

Black seeds from the Nigella Sativa plant not only increase Acetylcholine in the body, but due to it’s very high Thymoquinone content, it also allows for higher levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter well known for its ability to help calm, and improve cognitive function in individuals. Research suggests that elevated GABA levels correlate with higher IQ levels and improved cognitive performance. The manner is which thymoquinone increases GABAergic activity is still somewhat unknown, however, there is a theory that thymoquinone suppresses inducible nitric oxide (iNOS). iNOS produces cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) which suppresses GABAA receptors.

Thus, by suppressing iNOS, black seed oil could potentially allow for more sensitive GABAA receptors. Furthermore, studies indicate that thymoquinone simply elevates GABA levels. The combined effects of all of these mechanisms lead to a very calming effect, but one that does not lead to significant lethargy.

Nigella Sativa
Nigella Sativa Flowers

If you are somebody who loses their train of thought often, has a hard time staying focused, has difficulty remembering things, frequently loses belongings or has a hard time finding the right words during speech or writing, using a Nigella Sativa extract supplement to get an increase in Acetylcholine and GABA might be just what you’re looking for.

2. Nigella Sativa Supports Weight Loss

In a recent study, researchers divided 50 higher-weight women into two groups.The first group received Nigella Sativa extract supplementation, while the other received a placebo. Those in the Nigella Sativa group lost four times more weight than the women in the placebo group, despite having the same diet and exercise regimen. A difference of 8% body fat reduction vs 2%. This study involved both women and men aged 30-45. The results were also similar, with those in the Nigella Sativa supplement group having marked improvements in body weight and waist circumference.

This is likely attributed to its phytosterols and high oleic acid levels, known to enhance fat burning in the body.

Nigella Sativa

3. Nigella Sativa Supports Digestion

As research emphasizes digestive health’s significance for overall well-being, optimizing digestion becomes crucial for enhancing wellness comprehensively. Research indicates that black seed extract can alleviate digestive issues and provide relief from intestinal discomfort.

4. Nigella Sativa Supports Liver Health

In a toxin-filled world, optimal liver function is crucial for our well-being and health. A recent study divided 70 patients with poor liver function into two groups. One group received a placebo, while the other got 1g capsules of ground black seed extract powder twice daily. Participants were monitored for 3 months, assessing weight, BMI, and liver enzymes. After those 3 months, the group that used a black seed extract supplement showed vast improvements across all indicators. Black seed supplementation exclusively led to body weight and BMI reduction.

Nigella Sativa
Body Mass Index Chart (BMI)

5. Nigella Sativa Supports Healthy Immune Function and Promotes Healthy Levels of Inflammation

A study administered black seed oil to 66 allergy sufferers for one month. All participants noticed a significant reduction of symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and nasal congestion. The study, involving 152 allergy sufferers, observed symptom reduction with 40-80mg/kg daily dose of black seed oil. As shown by the evidence, there is a strong case for black seeds as a natural approach to allergy support. Thymoquinone’s benefits could be particularly useful during peak pollen seasons when trees and flowers release pollen simultaneously in your vicinity. For a lot of people, autumn can be tough due to persistent minor allergies. Nigella Sativa extract may help alleviate some of this discomfort.

Recent research has indicated that thymoquinone is a powerful regulator of inflammation and supports healthy immune function. Mainly acting on inflammation and immune function regulators—COX, 5-LOX, PGD2, LTs, ILs, TNF-alpha—thymoquinone significantly influences health. Thymoquinone regulates factors in inflammation and immune function, promoting healthy inflammation levels and enhancing overall immune function significantly.

6. Nigella Sativa Promotes Mood and Relaxation

A 2014 study divided 48 healthy males aged 14-17 into two groups. One group received 500mg of black seed extract capsules, while the other received a placebo. Participants were instructed to take one capsule daily for four weeks. Black seed extract, used as a supplement for 4 weeks, supported mood, relaxation, and cognition in a study period. This is once again due to its effects on the GABAergic system.

The Differences Between Nigella Sativa Powder vs. Oil

Nigella Sativa
Black Seed Extract Powder

Traditionally, using a black seed oil supplement will only provide you with an average of 1% Thymoquinone content.’s powder boasts a stark contrast with 5 times the thymoquinone content at 5%. Not only is the thymoquinone content higher, but it is also available as a powder or in capsule form. This makes measuring out dosages and incorporating Nigella Sativa extract into a supplement regimen much more convenient. The high thymoquinone content in black seed oil intrigues, as it contributes to most of its benefits.

Conclusion: Nigella Sativa Extract Supports Our General Health and Brain Function

Emerging studies highlight the profound potential of the ancient Nigella sativa seed for health and well-being. Supporting cognitive, liver, digestive, and metabolic health, it emerges as a potent overall health supplement.

Nigella Sativa users report improved mood, sleep, cognitive function, and stress levels, with reduced brain fog and heightened presence.

Consuming black seed extract is generally recognized as safe, considering its consumption for over 2000 years!

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