Black seed refers to the seed capsule of an annual flowering plant in the buttercup family. The herb is also known by many other common names, such as black cumin, black caraway, nigella, nutmeg flower, fennel flower, Roman coriander and Kalonji in South Asia. Because the names black seed (blackseed), black cumin and black caraway also refer to two other herbs in the carrot family (Bunium persicum and Bunium bulbocastanum) they are used interchangeably, which leads to identification confusion. This article discusses black seed (Nigella sativa), a spice commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. According to a recent study published in Phytotherapy Research, black seed appears to help break up and/or reduce the size of kidney stones and may even prevent their formation.
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial involved 60 subjects with kidney stones that were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The treatment group was given 500 mg of black seed (capsules) twice a day, and the control group a placebo twice a day for 10 weeks. At the end of the trial, 51.8% of patients in the treatment group had a reduction in stone size and 44.4% passed their stones entirely. In comparison, only 11.5% of patients who received a placebo experienced a reduction in stone size and only 15.3% passed their stones completely.
Black seed contains a number of active compounds with broad pharmacological actions. Of particular interest is thymoquinone, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that may also have opioid tolerance-reduction effects. According to a review published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology in 2016, there is evidence to suggest that black seed may also have analgesic, anti-diabetic, antihyperlipidemic, anticonvulsant, anti-microbial, anti-ulcer, anti-hypertensive, anti-asthmatic and anti-cancer activities.
Ardakani Movaghati MR, Yousefi M, Saghebi SA, et al. "Efficacy of black seed (Nigella sativa L.) on kidney stone dissolution: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial." Phytother Res. 2019 Mar 14. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6331.
Dajani EZ, Shahwan TG, Dajani NE. "Overview of the preclinical pharmacological properties of Nigella sativa (black seeds): a complementary drug with historical and clinical significance." J Physiol Pharmacol. 2016 Dec;67(6):801-817.