Plants that Heal: Nigella Sativa and how to grow it


I have been experiencing symptoms of pollen allergies since early childhood. I find my springs in the mountains to be cursed by the fatigue, aches, and general malaise. Rand Carter who is a Quantum AG graduate suggested that I try Black Seed Oil. I love the stuff. When traveling back to Australia, I was unable to carry the oil. My body craves it. I feel so much better and while in Georgia my general well being improved even with the trees flowering..

Known for thousands of years as the seed that cures everything but death, used as spice, as healing oil, and as seeds made into a paste with honey..

Pan roasting the nigella seed for just a minute releases the oil. I then Ninja them to dry flour which I mix half/half with honey. I eat two tablespoons a day and receive the salubruious effects. Hoping you try this, ancient medicines and bitter medicines always work. Enjoy.

Shabari Bird Wiangareee, NSW, Australia

Nigella sativa, a flowering plant more commonly called fennel flower or Roman coriander, is an Asian spice often used as a medicinal plant. In ancient times, it was used in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to improve kidney and liver function, promote intestinal health, and enhance immune system function.

Purported Uses




Asthma, bronchitis




According to several studies, nigella sativa contains antioxidant activity, which can prevent the free radical damage that can injure cells. Increased cell damage can lead to tumors and cancer, according to experts. Some studies say it may also increase the risk for heart disease.

According to one animal study, nigella sativa contains a constituent called thymoquinone, which has been shown to decrease the risk for stomach tumors in mice. It is not clear how this constituent reacts in humans. It may also prevent cancerous pancreatic cells from proliferating and inducing cell death, called apoptosis. This may help prevent or reduce the severity of pancreatic cancer.

Nigella sativa also contains a constituent called beta-sitosterol, which may inhibit tumor growth in the stomach, liver, and eyes. It has also been clinically shown to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the intestinal tract, decreasing bad LDL cholesterol levels. In Europe, beta-sitosterol is used to reduce urinary symptoms caused by a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).

Nigella sativa

Common Names

Black cumin

Black caraway

Black onion seed


Animal studies have shown that black cumin seed can stop the growth of tumor cells and reduce the incidence of tumors. However, the effects in humans are unclear.

To protect the body from the adverse effect of radiation therapy

Animal studies have shown that black cumin seed oil, when injected, may protect against tissue damage caused by radiation. However, the effects in humans are unknown.

To decrease hypertension

In one study in humans, daily use of black cumin seed extract for 2 months may have help to lower blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension.

To decrease symptoms of asthma

An early phase study suggests black cumin seed may help to prevent the asthmatic symptoms. More research is warranted.

To treatment rheumatoid arthritis

One study shows black cumin seed oil when taken orally, can help reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Do Not Take If

You are taking cytochrome P450 substrate drugs: Nigella sativa may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs.

Side Effects

High doses of Nigella sativa caused liver and kidney damage in rats.

Topical use of Nigella sativa caused allergic reactions.

Nigella sativa

Clinical Summary

Nigella sativa is a flowering plant found throughout India, Arabia, and Europe. The seeds, commonly known as black seeds or black cumin, are used in cooking and in traditional medicine for inflammation, infection, and cancer.


Evidence also suggests that N. sativa has anticancer properties. Thymoquinone and other constituents of the seeds reduced the growth and size of tumors in rats (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9). Thymoquinone also enhanced the anticancer effects of doxorubicin in certain cancer cell lines (25). N. sativa oil, when injected, demonstrated a protective effect against tissue damage caused by radiation in rats  (15). Human studies are lacking.


Adverse effects are rare, but high doses of N. sativa oil caused liver and kidney damage in rats (7).

Mechanism of Action

Thymoquinone, one of the chief constituents of Nigella sativa oil has antioxidant effects and restored the levels of lactate dehydrogenase, glutathione, and SOD in animal models (6) (7) (9). This may also explain N. sativa’s hepatoprotective effects (3) (4). Studies have also shown that N. sativa oil has anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase (18). An in vitro study demonstrated that nigellone, a constituent of the crude extract of N. sativa seeds, inhibited histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells (10) and may reduce allergy symptoms in humans (12). N. sativa decreased hypertension in rats possibly due to its diuretic effects (5). It was also shown to decrease uterine smooth muscle contractions (14).

The antioxidant effect is thought to protect tissues from radiation injury (15). However, it is not clear if this would also make radiation therapy less effective. Thymoquinone administered to mice reduced the incidence of stomach tumors (7). Possible mechanisms include inhibition of DNA synthesis (7), and promotion of apoptosis by inhibiting cell growth in G1 phase (8).


Common Names: Black Cumin, Fennel Flower, Devil in a Bush, Love in a Mist.

Scientifc names: Nigella Sativa, N. damascena.

Life Cycle: Half hardy annual, hardy annual.

Height: 8 to 20 inches (20 to 50 cm).

Native: Europe, Southwest Asia, North Africa.

Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10.

Flowers: Summer.

Flower Details: Pale blue, white, pink. At least five petals. Lacy bracts.

Sow Outside: Cover seed. Sow every three weeks from just before the last frost until the start of summer; and again in autumn (in warm areas). Spacing 10 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm).

Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: two to three weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost or in autumn.

Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Soil pH 6 to 7. Average soil. Can survive in dry soils. Regular feed. Regular watering during prolonged dry periods. Deadhead.

Miscellaneous: The seeds from Bunium persicum (synonymous with Carum bulbocastanum) are also known as black cumin. In addition to black cumin some other names for the seeds of Nigella sativa include Nutmeg flower; Blackseed; Black caraway; Fennel flower; and Roman coriander.