Black Seed Oil: History, Origins And Uses
– All Your Questions About This Unique Product Explained –
Black Seed Oil, Nigella Sativa, Black Cumin. Sounds exotic, doesn’t it? You’ve probably heard some people talking about it, especially if you’ve been to a health food, supplement or vitamin store. You’ve also probably seen more ads popping up for Black Seed Oil or BSO. Maybe you’ve even heard someone raving about its health benefits.
Like most people, you’ve been intrigued about Black Seed Oil (BSO), but it may be hard to figure out just what it is. In this article, we’ll give you all the background information you need to understand what it is.
Nigella Savita. That’s the scientific name for the plant that produces the seeds where the oil is drawn from. Sometimes it’s written as just N. sativa. It also goes by many other names across the world: nigella seeds, black cumin, black caraway, Roman coriander or kalonji. Of course, the most common name, Black Seed Oil or BSO, just refers to the oil from the seeds.
Let’s take a quick walk down history to learn more about Nigella sativa and the Black Seed Oil that come from it.
Like many other medicinal plants, the Nigella sativa has been known as a healing herb for centuries in many areas of the world. It’s native to:
Specific countries include:
Why these areas? Like many other plants, Nigella sativa thrives better in certain locations than others. For example, grapes can grow in just about any place in the world, but the best wines are made from grapes grown in only a few areas such as Northern California and Southern France. Over millions of years, the soil and climate in those regions developed to produce grapes that make for the best wines.
Experts have found the best Nigella sativa plants comes from Ethiopia, which in turn provide the richest and most potent Nigella seeds. BioNatal only imports Nigella seeds from a very particular region of Ethiopia. This leads to the production of natural, virgin Black Seed Oil.
While it’s not clear where the Nigella sativa plant was first cultivated for cooking and health benefits, Ethiopia is one of the places where the Kalonji is found and where the earliest modern human skeletal remains have been found. With its lush tropical regions, it is also the point from where modern humans started spreading out to the Middle East and other parts of the world. It is quite likely that these early modern humans were among the first to cultivate the plant, harvest the Nigella sativa seeds and learn how to use BSO. They were also likely the first learn about its benefits.
As early traders learned about the Black cumin seeds, it spread throughout the Eastern Mediterranean area and as far away as India and Pakistan. The Nigella sativa seeds were even found in numerous sites at archeological digs in Egypt, including the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun (King Tut), who died around 1325 B.C.
So, Black cumin seeds have been around long before humans arrived on this world and is probably one of the oldest plants used for cooking and native medicine. It’s hard to pinpoint when people first started making Black Seed Oil. But, it’s mentioned by the Prophet Muhammad and is mentioned in The Bible.
WHAT IS IT?
To look at it, you might think it’s just a very pretty flower with blue or white petals. The Nigella sativa is a sun-loving plant that grows well on hillsides where it can get the right amount of rain in rich soil in Ethiopia. As the plant matures, the petals open up to reveal a small pod with the Nigella seeds. As the name Black Seed Oil says, the seeds are black. You might even mistake the seeds for the poppy seeds you see on your morning bagel or other breads.
The Black Seed Oil is collected when the seeds are crushed in some type of press. In early cultures, it was just a matter of grinding the seeds with stones and collecting the oil. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of plants making these very small seeds to get even a small amount of oil. The seeds have to be hand-picked very gently.
A RANGE OF PRODUCTS
Other than Black Seed Oil, what products can you get from the Nigella sativa plant? It’s a long list, but among them are:
Skin Scrubs and
The Black Seed Oil can be used as directed on the product packaging.
WHAT’S IN THE OIL?
The Black Seed Oil accounts for about 30-40% of each N. sativa seeds. It’s the oil that’s the prize here. It contains a number of chemicals, but the really important ones are:
linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid and is one of two essential fatty acids for humans)
oleic acid (a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid)
trans-anethole (a naturally occurring flavoring compound) and
thymoquinone (a phytochemical compound).
The Black seeds also have various other compounds in small amounts, including proteins and alkaloids.
It’s the thymoquinone that really counts. As far as any health benefits BSO may have, it’s what scientists around the world have been studying in Black Seed Oil. The seeds and the oil extract have been used in traditional Indian medicine. It also has a great following in Muslim countries and is used extensively throughout Africa, the Mediterranean region and the Middle East.
Whatever Nigella sativa products you use, the level or percent of the thymoquinone in the product makes a huge difference. The higher the level, the more effective it is. For example, Black Seed Oil, which is the most common product from the Nigella sativa plant, can range from as little as 10% to up to 40%. It’s important to read labels when it comes to BSO.
Another thing to know about the thymoquinone is where the plant comes from. As we said earlier, some places produce the best Nigella sativa. For example, Ethiopia has perhaps the best land for cultivating the plant. As a result, it produces seeds with the highest potency of thymoquinone in the N. sativa plants.
Also important is how the seeds are processed. Some companies use large industrial presses that use tremendous amounts of energy to crush a large volume of seeds at one time. In doing so, this creates great amounts of intense heat. That heat can seriously reduce the potency of the final product. But those companies are more concerned with volume over quality.
A “cold press” process uses minimal pressure in small batches to keep the temperature from going above 78 degrees Fahrenheit. We’ve learned that keeping the press temperature as low as possible makes for the best product.
For more information about Black Seed Oil, see our other information on this website.