Wellness is at the forefront of everybody’s minds, and whether you choose to sip on a turmeric latte or you’ve stocked up on activated charcoal, more of us than ever are turning to a natural approach for our health. Now a new superfood is trending in the wellbeing world, with experts claiming that it can relieve allergies, soothe eczema, aid digestion and bolster the immune system.
It’s called black seed oil (or black coriander oil) and it comes from the Nigella sativa plant that’s native to Asia, but also grown in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Technically part of the buttercup family, it’s known for its aromatic seeds that can be used as a spice or ground to create a ‘cure-all’ oil.
It’s recorded use dates back to ancient Egyptian times – rumour has it that Cleopatra used it on her face and hair to achieve her flawless complexion. Black seed oil is even said to have been found in the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb, but it’s also gained some fans with serious trend-driving clout in modern times too. In 2015, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian launched their own collection of haircare products featuring black seed as the hero ingredient.
So what’s so great about these powerful little seeds? Well, numerous scientific articles have been published on Nigella sativa, linking the seeds with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, and immune-enhancing properties.
They’re an abundant source of all the essential fatty acids, proteins and vitamins B1, B2,B3, calcium, folate, iron, copper, zinc and phosphorus, as well as the antioxidants thymoquinone, carvacrol, thymol, p-cymene, anethole, and 4-terpineol – which provide strong anti-pathogenic and antifungal properties.
Throughout history, black seed oil has been used to treat an array of medical conditions, including asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammation, cough, headache, eczema, fever, dizziness and the flu.
While not all of the health benefits attributed to black seed oil have been conclusively proven, in recent years, scientists have researched its potential to treat various diseases, with positive results – and it’s been linked to improved liver function and prevention of liver damage, liver disease, as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Some studies on this potent seed oil show it may also be helpful in combating super bugs like MRSA or h.pylori.
Pure black seed oil comes in the form of a dark liquid which experts recommend that you ingest orally – one teaspoon per day – and it has a slightly bitter taste that won’t be for everyone. If you find it completely unpalatable, Holland and Barratt have Black Seed Oil capsules that can be taken with water (£16.99 for 60, hollandandbarrett.com).
There are beauty benefits too. Because of its strong antioxidant properties, you can find black seed oil in a whole host of topical products designed to nourish dry skin and clear blemishes, such as Sunday Riley’s U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil, (£34, cultbeauty.co.uk), and Bodhi & Birch’s Super25 Botanical Serum (£75, bodhiandbirch.com).
Whether you slather it on your face or spoon it onto your lunch, one thing’s for certain: you’ll be hearing a whole lot more about this ‘miracle’ oil over the coming months.