I have suffered from asthma in the past, and it is no surprise since asthma runs in my family. I developed asthma as an adult and was diagnosed during my first year at Graduate School about 18 years ago.
I know I am not alone, for the Global Asthma Report from 2018 stated that 339 million people are affected by asthma globally.
Asthma is caused by inflammation in our airways and respiratory system that causes one or a combination of symptoms including wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and coughing, all of which work together to limit airflow into our body (Global Asthma Network, 2018).
I am blessed that I no longer suffer from asthma. I healed it through natural means, including the use of aromatherapy, other natural remedies, and lifestyle changes.
However, I didn’t realize that black seed is something I could have used as well. Evidence shows that black seed or Nigella sativa provides great benefits for asthma sufferers.
What is Black Seed Oil?
Nigella sativa is a medicinal plant belonging to the Ranunculaceae family. It is cultivated in the Middle East, Southern Europe, and Asia, including in India, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. It has been used in Ayurveda, Tibb-e-Nabwi or Islamic Prophetic Medicine, and other traditional healing methods (Ahmad et al., 2013). It is also known as black seed, kalonji, black caraway, or black cumin.
Black seed is known for its properties to reduce blood pressure, support the liver, improve digestion, alleviate diarrhea, stimulate appetite, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, protect and strengthen hair and skin, and fight microbial infections. It is also known for its anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, and anti-diabetic abilities (Ahmad et al., 2013; Tavakkoli, Mahdian, Razavi, & Hosseinzadeh, 2017).
Its varied benefits have led people to describe black seed as “the remedy for everything but death” (Ji, 2018).
Evidence it Supports Asthma- Animal Studies
One of the various benefits of black seed is its antispasmodic effect, which means it helps to reduce spasms in muscles and tissues. Because of this, it is believed to reduce contractions within the respiratory system (Ahmad et al., 2013).
Separate studies conducted on guinea pigs and rats indicated that those animals that had received a black seed supplement or treatment had reduced pulmonary inflammation and improved respiratory performance (Ahmad et al., 2013).
Evidence it Supports Asthma- Human Studies
Studies on humans have also been effective. One of them was conducted on 80 adults suffering from asthma in which half of the group received black seed oil and the other received a placebo of olive oil. After 4 weeks, the group received the black seed oil supplement had improved performance on an Asthma Control Test (Ji, 2018).
Another study was conducted on 29 adults suffering from asthma where 15 received an extract of black seed and 14 received a placebo solution for a period of three months. All adults who received the black seed extract saw an improvement in asthma symptoms, the frequency of the symptoms, and Pulmonary Function Test. Many of these patients were able to reduce the use of rescue inhalers and other medical treatments (Ahmad et al., 2013).
An additional study conducted over a two-week period showed that 15 asthmatic patients who took a boiled extract of black seed had dilated bronchioles and improvement in Pulmonary Function Test (Tavakkoli et al., 2017).
In addition, black seed improved symptoms of allergic rhinitis that include sneezing, nasal congestion, and nasal itching. Patients who took a supplement of whole black seeds saw an improvement of these symptoms, and a separate study in which patients applied black seed oil in their nostrils did as well (Tavakkoli et al., 2017).
How to Consume Black Seed
Nigella sativa can be consumed whole in its black seed form, and thus be added into food, drinks, salads, or swallowed directly. Some recommend heating the seeds to allow the oils within to be more easily released and digested. A teaspoon of seeds can be swallowed with a glass of water or mixed with a teaspoon of honey.
Black seed is also available in powder form and consumed similarly to the seed. It is also available as an oil, a water extract, and an alcohol extract. In these forms, it can be applied directly on the skin or taken as a supplement.
Make sure to consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before consuming or using black seed in any form. Had I known of its great benefits when I was an asthma sufferer, I would have given it a try.
Ahmad, A., Husain, A., Mujeeb, M., Khan, S. A., Najmi, A. K., Siddique, N. A., Damanhouri, Z. A., & Anwar, F. (2013). A review on therapeutic potential of Nigella sativa: a miracle herb. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 3(5), 337-352. doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60075-1
Global Asthma Network. (2018). The Global Asthma Report 2018. Auckland, New Zealand: Global Asthma Network, 2018.
Ji, S. (2018). Black seed oil puts deadly asthma meds to shame. GreenMedinfo.Retrieved on October 8, 2018 from http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/black-seed-oil-puts-deadly-asthma-meds-shame
Tavakkoli, A., Mahdian, V., Razavi, B. M., & Hosseinzadeh, H. (2017). Review on clinical trials of black seed (nigella sativa) and its active constituent, thymoquinone. Journal of Pharmacopuncture, 20(3), 179-193. doi: 10.3831/KPI.2017.20.021