(Nigella sativa L.) Black cumin is an annual plant originating from the family Ranunculaceae. It is also known as black caraway, nigella, kalonji or, simply, black seeds. It is found in areas with warm climates, mainly in Europe, West Asia and North Africa. It has acquired significant popularity in India and Egypt.
Tiny grains of great power
Black cumin is a plant reaching up to 60cm in height. It has delicate sprouts and leaves and its flowers are white-blue-yellowish. The fruit of black cumin is a follicle which hides rugose seeds similar to poppy seeds, but of a deep black colour. They taste bitter at first, then spicy and peppery, while their scent is reminiscent of nutmeg. Black cumin seeds are a source of many biologically active substances. These include oil, fatty oil, saponins, tannins, proteins, sugars, and minerals and vitamins. Due to its rich composition and properties, black cumin is successfully used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.
Research on black cumin confirms the positive impact of its seeds and oil related to relieving the symptoms associated with the digestive system.
Consumption of black cumin contributes to proper functioning of the stomach, as the substances contained in the seeds coat and have a protective effect on the lining of the stomach. Black cumin also supports the intestinal, liver and pancreatic function and stimulates the secretion of digestive juices to facilitate digestion.
What active ingredients are found in black cumin seeds and oil?
Black cumin oil is rich in fatty acids and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Due to the content of, among others, unsaturated fatty acids that are essential for our body, black cumin acts as an antioxidant that protects cells against damage from free radicals. The active ingredients contained in black cumin play a very important role, strengthening the body’s immune system. Black cumin is often used as an aid in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections.
How to use black cumin so it does not lose its health-promoting properties?
Black cumin is most commonly used in two ways: as oil poured on a spoon and consumed directly, or as a spice with a variety of culinary uses. It is used as an additive to bread, meat dishes, spreads for sandwiches, soups or salads. Black cumin can be used as a successful replacement for pepper, the spice so popularly used in our homes.
Black cumin oil should be virgin and cold-pressed to retain its full value. It is also a good idea to use black cumin in the form of infusions or tinctures and, externally, as a cosmetic ingredient.
Because of its amazing properties, black cumin is widely used in cosmetology.
Due to its wealth of unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamin E, black cumin demonstrates strong care properties and prevents skin ageing. It retains the appropriate level of skin elasticity, improves the condition of mucous membranes and has a protective effect. Black cumin oil relieves the symptoms associated with skin allergies, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. It is also used as an ingredient of photoprotective cosmetics, especially for sensitive skin and skin exposed to irritation. It was also found that it protects the skin from damage caused by UV radiation, and promotes faster skin regeneration after intense sunbathing. It is recommended for mature, acne and allergic skin due to its softening, replenishing and elasticity-increasing properties. Another important news is that after the application of black cumin oil, the treated skin will be less oily and the skin will develop less inflammation.
Black cumin has been used by humans for at least 3,000 years.
The properties and applications of black cumin have been known since times long past. Archaeologists discovered black cumin seeds in ancient burial sites in Egypt and Turkey. It is said that ancient rulers wanted to have a cup of black cumin seeds placed in their sarcophagus in case they suffered health problems in the afterlife. Ancient records indicate that black cumin seeds and oil were both a valuable commodity in the economy of the ancient Middle East.