Nigella sativa or black cumin is a flowering plant and believed to be originated from Southeast Asia. It had been used for medicinal purposes in Africa, Middle East, Greece and Europe and has been known by different names in different cultures. For instance the Arabs called it ”Habbat el Baraka” (seeds of blessing), the Indians called it ”Kalonji” and the Chinese called it ”Hak Jung Chou”. In Islam, the plant is believed to possess remarkable healing properties and can cure anything but death.
The effects of nigella sativa in treating cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma and kidney diseases are nothing short of miraculous. Although research into its effects against different ailments commenced only 2-3 decades earlier, it has been used as a traditional medicine for quite a long time. Over the past two decades, studies have found that it is also particularly useful against cancer. Its seeds contain a compound called Thymoquinone which fights cancer by promoting the natural killing process of the cells called apoptosis. This process gets rid of cancer cells from the body. Thymoquinone also boosts the natural defense system of the body.
Composition Of Nigella Sativa
The seeds of nigella sativa contain many active ingredients like essential oils, proteins, alkaloids and saponins. However, from a pharmacological standpoint, Thymoquinone (essential oil) is the most significant component of its seeds. In the body, Thymoquinone kills cancer cells by taking different molecular routes. It may destroy cancer cells by increasing the expression of genes which induce apoptosis or it may promote the removal of cancer cells by decreasing the expression of anti-apoptotic genes.
Its seeds or oil has been found to work against a broad array of cancers including breast cancer, blood cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer and skin cancer. A research carried out by Dr. Hwyda Arafat and colleagues in 2009 at Jefferson University, USA found that black cumin has the ability to cause cell death of approximately 80% pancreatic tumor cells.
Dosage Requirements For Nigella Sativa
Since its seeds have a harsh taste, they must be slowly heated till the flavor becomes bland. Once this has been accomplished, the seeds are grinded to a fine powder and then consumed. Alternatively, one tablespoon mixed with a teaspoon of raw honey taken approximately half an hour before breakfast may also do the trick. Needless to say that this tablespoon must be accompanied by a healthy diet and regular exercise. Consuming a large quantity in the hopes of recovering from cancer quickly is not the solution. It is best to stick with standard recommended dosage.
How To Use It In Food?
The flatbread made in parts of South Asia like India and Pakistan is frequently topped with it. Alternatively it can be added to lentils, curries, soups, stews and hummus. It is important not to overcook the meal to retain the natural goodness of black cumin.