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View Full Version : Black Seed, the "Seed of Blessing"

02-02-2006, 09:27 AM
What is Black Seed?

"Use the Black Seed, because it contains a cure for every type of ailment, except for death." [At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and Ibn Hibban]

An annual herbaceous plant, black seed (Nigella sativa) is believed to be indigenous to the Mediterranean region but has been cultivated into other parts of the world including Saudi Arabia, northern Africa and parts of Asia.
Tiny and hairy, being no more than 3mm in length, black seed originates from the common fennel flower plant (Nigella sativa) of the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family. Nigella sativa is sometimes mistakenly confused with the fennel herb plant (Foeniculum vulgare).

The plant has finely divided foliage and pale bluish purple or white flowers. The flowers grow terminally on its branches while the leaves grow opposite each other in pairs, on either side of the stem. Its lower leaves are small and petiole, and the upper leaves are long (6-10cm). The stalk of the plant reaches a height of twelve to eighteen inches as its fruit, the black seed, matures.

Nigella sativa reproduces with itself and forms a fruit capsule which consists of many white trigonal seeds. Once the fruit capsule has matured, it opens up and the seeds contained within are exposed to the air, becoming black in color (black seeds).

Nigella sativa and its black seed are known by other names, varying between places. Some call it black caraway, others call it black cumin (Kalonji), or even coriander seeds. In English, the Nigella sativa plant is commonly referred to as "Love in a Mist". Nevertheless, this is Nigella sativa, which has been known and used from ancient times and is also known in Persian as Shonaiz.

The most pertinent point to be made about black seed is that it should be regarded as part of an overall holistic approach to health and ideally should be incorporated into one's everyday lifestyle. In this way, the many nutritional and healing properties contained in the seed can help build the body's immune system over time, supplying it with the optimum resources it needs to help prevent and fight illness.


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02-02-2006, 09:28 AM
History of Black Seed

Nigella sativa (Black Seed) was discovered in Tutankhamen's tomb, implying that it played an important role in ancient Egyptian practices. Although its exact role in Egyptian culture is not known, we do know that items entombed with a king were carefully selected to assist him in the afterlife. The earliest written reference to black seed is found in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. Isaiah contrasts the reaping of black cumin with wheat: For the black cumin is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over the cumin, but the black cumin is beaten out with a stick, and the cumin with a rod. (Isaiah 28:25,27 NKJV). Easton's Bible Dictionary clarifies that the Hebrew word for black cumin, "ketsah," refers to "without doubt the Nigella sativa, a small annual of the order Ranunculaceae which grows wild in the Mediterranean countries, and is cultivated in Egypt and Syria for its seed."

Dioscoredes, a Greek physician of the 1st century, recorded that black seeds were taken to treat headaches, nasal congestion, toothache, and intestinal worms. They were also used, he reported, as a diuretic to promote menstruation and increase milk production.

The Muslim scholar al-Biruni (973-1048), who composed a treatise on the early origins of Indian and Chinese drugs, mentions that the black seed is a kind of grain called alwanak in the Sigzi dialect. Later, this was confirmed by Suhar Bakht who explained it to be habb-i-Sajzi (viz. Sigzi grains). This reference to black seed as "grains" points to the seed's possible nutritional use during the tenth and eleventh centuries.

In the Greco-Arab/Unani-Tibb system of medicine, which originated from Hippocrates, his contemporary Galen and Ibn Sina, black seed has been regarded as a valuable remedy in hepatic and digestive disorders and has been described as a stimulant in a variety of conditions, ascribed to an imbalance of cold humours.

Ibn Sina (980-1037), most famous for his volumes called "The Canon of Medicine," regarded by many as the most famous book in the history of medicine, East or West, refers to black seed as the seed "that stimulates the body's energy and helps recovery from fatigue or disspiritedness."
Black seed is also included in the list of natural drugs of Al-Tibb al-Nabawi, and, according to tradition, "Hold onto the use of the black seed for it has a remedy for every illness except death." This prophetic reference in describing black seed as "having a remedy for all illnesses" may not be so exaggerated as it at first appears. Recent research has provided evidence which indicates that black seed contains an ability to significantly boost the human immune system - if taken over time. The prophetic phrase, "hold onto the use of the seed," also emphasizes consistent usage of the seed.
Black seed has been traditionally and successfully used in the Middle and Far East countries for centuries to treat ailments including bronchial asthma and bronchitis, rheumatism and related inflammatory diseases, to increase milk production in nursing mothers, to treat digestive disturbances, to support the body's immune system, to promote digestion and elimination, and to fight parasitic infestation. Its oil has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and boils and is used topically to treat cold symptoms.

The many uses of black seed has earned for this medicinal herb the Arabic approbation habbatul barakah, meaning "the seed of blessing."

02-02-2006, 09:29 AM
Primary Properties of Black Seed

As the evidence presented in this section will show, it is quite probable that as medical science increasingly learns more about black seed, one or more of its more active ingredients may become combined into a pharmacy prescription for specific conditions. In the event that this does occur, it is also likely that this particular extract of black seed will be chemically compounded and thus become a more potent medicine.
While it may be argued that chemical additives may increase black seed's effectiveness in treating specific conditions, the healing principles of black seed in its pure, natural form should also be taken into account
  • Black seed, in its complete, natural form, acts on the principle of assisting the body's own natural healing process in overcoming illness or maintaining health. It works on the part or system of the body affected without disturbing its natural balance elsewhere.
  • The effect of black seed's combined nutitrional and medicinal value is that not only does it help relieve the current condition at hand, but also helps the body build further resistance against future ailments or disease.

While historical evidence suggests black seed's potential use for a wide variety of ailments, we have limited our descriptions of its primary healing properties here to the most recent research findings on black seed.
Nutritional value
Black seed is rich in nutritional values.
  • Monosaccharides (single molecule sugars) in the form of glucose, rhamnose, xylose, and arabinose are found in the black seed.
  • The black seed contains a non-starch polysaccharide component which is a useful source of dietary fiber.
  • It is rich in fatty acids, particularly the unsaturated and essential fatty acids (Linoleic and Linoleic acid). Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the body alone, and therefore we acquire these from food.
  • Fifteen amino acids make up the protein content of the black seed, including eight of the nine essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be synthesized within our body in sufficient quantities and are thus required from our diet.
  • Black seed contains Arginine which is essential for infant growth.
  • Chemical analysis has further revealed that the black seed contains carotene, which is converted by the liver into vitamin A, the vitamin known for its anti-cancer activity.
  • The black seed is also a source of calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium. Required only in small amounts by the body, these elements' main function is to act as essential cofactors in various enzyme functions.
Immune system strengthening
Studies begun just over a decade ago suggest that if used on an ongoing basis, black seed can play an important role to enhance human immunity, particularly in immunocompromise patients. In 1986, Drs. El-Kadi and Kandil conducted a study with human volunteers to test the efficiency of black seed as a natural immune enhancer. The first group of volunteers received black seed capsules (1 gram twice daily) for four weeks and the second group were given a placebo. A complete lymphocyte count carried out in all volunteers before and four weeks after administration of black seed and the placebo revealed that the majority of subjects who took black seed displayed a 72% increase in helper to suppresser T-cells ratio, as well as an increase in natural killer cell functional activity. The control group who received the placebo experienced a net decline in ratio of 7%. They reported, "These findings may be of great practical significance since a natural immune enhancer like the black seed could play an important role in the treatment of cancer, AIDS, and other disease conditions associated with immune deficiency states."
These results were confirmed by a study published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal in 1993 by Dr. Basil Ali and his colleagues from the College of Medicine at Kin Faisal University.
In the field of AIDS research specifically, tests carried out by Dr. Haq on human volunteers at the Department of Biological and Medical Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (1997) showed that black seed enhanced the ratio between helper T-cells and suppresser T-cells by 55% with a 30% average enhancement of the natural killer (NK) cell activity.
Anti-histamine activity
Histamine is a substance released by bodily tissues, sometimes creating allergic reactions and is associated with conditions such as bronchial asthma. In 1960, scientists Badr-El-Din and Mahfouz found that dimer dithymoquinone isolated from black seed's volatile oil, under the name of "Nigellone," and given by mouth to some patients suffering from bronchial asthma, suppressed the symptoms of the condition in the majority of patients.
Following the results of this early study, crystalline nigellone was administered to children and adults in the treatment of bronchial asthma with effective results and no sign of toxicity. It was observed, however, that although effective, crystalline nigellone displayed a delayed reaction.
In 1993, Nirmal Chakravarty, M.D., conducted a study to see if this delay could be attributed to the possibility of crystalline nigellone being an inhibitory agent on histamine. His hypothesis proved correct. Dr. Chakravarty's study found that the actual mechanism behind the suppressive effect of crystalline nigellone on histamine is that crystalline nigellone inhibits protein kinase C, a substance known to trigger the release of histamine. In addition, his study showed that crystalline nigellone decreased the uptake of calcium in mast cells, which also inhibits histamine release.
The importance of these results are that people who suffer from bronchial asthma and other allergic diseases may benefit from taking crystalline nigellone.

Anti-tumor principles
A study of black seed's potential anti-tumor principles by the Amala Research Center in Amala Nagar, Kerala (India) in 1991 lent further impetus to Dr. Chakravarty's suggestion for the possible use of black seed in the treatment of cancer. Using an active principle of fatty acids derived from black seed, studies with Swiss albino mice showed that this active principle could completely inhibit the development of a common type of cancer cells called Ehrlich ascites carcinoma (EAC). A second common type of cancer cells, Dalton's lymphoma ascites (DLA) cells were also used.
  • Mice which had received the EAC cells and black seed remained normal without any tumor formation, illustrating that the active principle was 100% effective in preventing EAC tumor development.
  • Results in mice who received DLA cells and black seed showed that the active principle had inhibited tumor development by 50% less compared to mice not given the active principle.
The study concluded, "It is evident that the active principle isolated from nigella sativa seeds is a potent anti-tumor agent, and the constituent long chain fatty acid may be the main active component."
In 1989, a report appeared in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmacy about anti-fungal properties of the volatile oil of black seed. 1992 saw researchers at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, conducting a study in which the antibacterial activity of the volatile oil of black seed was compared with five antibiotics: ampicillin, tetracycline, cotrimoxazole, gentamicin, and nalidixic acid. The oil proved to be more effective against many strains of bacteria, including those known to be highly resistant to drugs: V. cholera, E. coli (a common infectious agent found in undercooked meats), and all strains of Shigella spp., except Shigella dysentriae. Most strains of Shigella have been shown to rapidly become resistant to commonly used antibiotics and chemotheraputic agents.
In light of the above research findings, it is of interest that homeopaths have long been known to make a tincture from the black seed for digestive and bowel complaints. Traditionally, the black seed is still used to help relieve vomiting and diarrhea, as well as flatulent colic, and to help counteract the griping action of purgatives (e.g. certain laxatives, fruits such as apricots when over consumed).
  • As early as 1960, Professor El-Dakhakny reported that black seed oil has an anti-inflammatory effect and that it could be useful for relieving the effects of arthritis.
  • 1995, a group of scientists at the Pharmacology Research Laboratories, Department of Pharmacy, Kings College, Lond, decided to test the effectiveness of the fixed oil of Nigella sativa and its derivative, thymoquinine, as an anti-inflammatory agent. Their study found that the oil inhibited eicosanoid generation and demonstrated anti-oxidant activity in cells.
  • The inhibition of eicasanoid generation, however, was higher than could be expected from thymoquinone alone. Their study suggested that other compounds within the oil might also be responsible for the enhanced anti-inflammatory reactions in cells.
  • The scientists speculated that the unusual C20:2 unsaturated fatty acids contained in black seed were possibly responsible for boosting the oil's effectiveness.
  • In 1997, studies conducted at the Microbiological Unit of the Research Center, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, found that externally in an ointment form, the anti-inflammatory activity of the black seed was found to be in the same range as that of other similar commercial products. The tests also demonstrated that the black seed is non-allergenic.

  1. Promotes lactation
    • A study by Agarwhal (1979) showed that black seed oil increases the milk output of breastfeeding mothers.
    • A literature search by the University of Potchefstroom (1989), including biological abstracts, revealed that black seed's capacity to increase the milk flow of nursing mothers could be attributed to a combination of lipid portion and hormonal structures found in the black seed.


02-02-2006, 09:30 AM
Black Seed Health Benefits - Published Reports

Published Scientific Reports confirm that Black Seed has an astounding array of health benefits, including:
  • Increases immune function.
    ~ U.S. Patents Sections, Antiviral Agents Bulletin #5,482,711
  • Black seed stimulates bone marrow and immune cells and raises the interferon production, protects normal cells against cell destroying effects of viruses, destroys tumor cells and raises the number of anti-bodies producing B cells.
    ~ Cancer Immuno-biology Laboratory ,South Carolina
  • Black seed contains valuable unsaturated fatty acids, for example Linoleic and Gammalinolen acids get into the organism. By that it possible to reach a synthesis of important immune regulating substances derived as from Prostaglandin E1. Linoleic acid stabilizes the cell membranes and Prostaglandin has the effect of inhibiting inflammation. By that the immune reactions are stopped which cause the illnesses and which otherwise could be the start of many chronic illnesses like acne and hayfever right up to cancer.
    ~ Dr. Peter Schleicher Immunologist, Munich, Germany
  • Black seed proves to have an ant histamine, ant-oxidant, anti-biotic, anti-mycotic and broncho-dilating effect.
    ~ Study of Black seed oil on humans, American Scientists
  • Black seed is truly a remarkable herb that has been used for over 3000 years. It contains over 100 valuable components. It is a significant source of essential fatty acids, proteins, carbohydrates and other vitamins and minerals. " The seeds are also rich in sterols, especially beta-sitosterol, which is known to have anticarcinogenic activity".
    ~ Dr. Michael Tierra L.AC. O.M.D
  • Black seed tests prove to be genuine universal remedy.
    ~ Pharmaceutical newspaper, Wissenschaftlicher Text
  • Black seed is a valuable source of protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, C and niacin as well as minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
    ~ Phytochemicals of Nigella sativa seeds. Food Chemistry
The above was taken from www.sweetsunnah.com

Other Benefits Include:
  • Improves kidney function
  • Promotes regulation of blood pressure
  • Promotes detoxification of the liver
  • Promotes the secretion or expulsion of phlegm, mucus, or other matter from the respiratory tract, including the treatment of bronchial asthma (expectorant)
  • Stimulates the production of perspiration
  • Promotes meses in women
  • Promotes the increase of milk production in nursing mothers
  • Induces the expulsion of gas from the stomach and intestines (carminative)
  • Has been found to increase sperm count in men
  • Promotes the expulsion of intestinal parasites
  • Promotes digestion and elimination

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02-02-2006, 09:30 AM
Black Seed Uses & Remedies

Commonly known as the "seed of blessing," black seed (Nigella sativa) has been used as a natural remedy in the Middle and Far East for more than 2000 years. Black seed provides nutritional support for the body's defense system. In 1959, the active ingredient in black seed, crystalline Nigellone, was first isolated and identified as providing many health benefits. Clinical trials have validated the efficacy of black seed in promoting health and wellness.
The most pertinent point to be made about black seed is that it should be regarded as part of an overall holistic approach to health and ideally should be incorporated into one's everyday lifestyle. In this way, the many nutritional and healing properties contained in the seed can help build the body's immune system over time, supplying it with the optimum resources it needs to help prevent and fight illness.

  1. Black seed as a daily health supplement
    Most medicines work best when given a chance to run their full course, and this too, is the case with black seed. In cognizance of its substantial nutritional components, as well as its specific medicinal properties, the body's ability to maintain health and promote healing of a lasting nature is best increased through regular use of black seed.
  2. Black seed as an energy source
    Ibn Sina (980-1037), in describing the black seed as that which "stimulates the body's energy and helps recovery from fatigue or disspiritedness," still holds true for Tibb (Islamic Medicine) health practitioners today. The rich nutritional value contained in black seed as outlined by scientific analysis of black seed, also points to it as a great source of energy. From the Tibb health perspective, the black seed has an ability to maintain and restore body heat. Our Western diet, predominantly made up of cold foods -- ice in our drinks, yogurt, pizza, cheese -- all deplete the innate heat our body requires in order to optimally function. Tibb holds the view that a reduced metabolic rate (innate heat) is the cause of most illnesses. The body, in losing energy, also loses its ability to fight off toxins, resulting in a greater chance of contracting illness.
  3. Black seed and other medication
    Black seed may be used in conjunction with conventional or other forms of natural medicine. It is not recommended that black seed be used exclusively in the treatment of serious medical complaints which may require more immediate action. For example, conditions like bronchitis sometimes require conventional antibiotics to prevent the condition from becoming more severe. However, black seed may be used as a therapeutic aid together with this and other forms of treatment to help counteract any side effects experienced from the use of antibiotics or other potent, chemically based medicines.
  4. Pregnancy and lactation
    The black seed is not recommended during pregnancy, however during lactation. It is an excellent form of added nutrition for both mother and the growing child while its immune system boosting properties serve as a natural, safe way to build resistance against illness. In addition, as studies have shown, black seed helps increase milk production during breastfeeding. Initial trials have shown that black seed may have an ability to increase the male sperm count.
  5. Babies and toddlers
    In addition to its many nutritional components, black seed contains carotene, which is essential for infant growth. During the toddler years, black seed provides children with all the energy they require for this active stage of life. Regular usage of black seed, which increases its immune system strengthening effect on the body, will decrease the length and severity of natural childhood illnesses, particularly during winter when children are most susceptible to contracting colds and flu.
  6. Black seed for the elderly person
    With its rich nutritional, energy-giving value, in combination with immune system strengthening properties, black seed is an ideal health supplement for the elderly person.

02-02-2006, 07:30 PM
MashaAllah bro very benefiiiiiiicial.
And for sisters, black seed oil on your face before you sleep works wonders. :D

02-02-2006, 07:52 PM
That's brilliant info Sonz bro. Thank you for sharing.

Wow nawal sis. I didn't know that. Gonna have to get some now : )

02-04-2006, 01:49 AM
i am DEFINATELY buying black seed oil!!!! I want to see wonders on ma face wen i wake up!!! But bro sonz is this oil good 4 massage, ma dad has been complaining abt pain on his legs, n no matter how much i massage he still feels pain, Does black seed oil help this problem?

02-04-2006, 02:32 AM
More on blackseed
Black Seed

Nigella sativa

Ranunculaceae - Buttercup Family

Arabic: habba souda, habbat al-barakah

Nigella sativa is native to western Asia and the Mediterranean region of the Middle East. It is cultivated for its seeds, which are known as the "seeds of blessings." It has been used as a health and beauty aid for thousands of years. According to tradition, the Prophet Mohammad described black seed as a cure for every disease except death! Ibn Sina (980-1037) stated that black seed stimulated body energy and helped overcome fatigue.

In Arabia, black seed remains a traditional remedy for asthma, coughs, stomachaches, abdominal pain, colic, general fatigue, rheumatism, mouth and larynx diseases, skin diseases, and cancer. It is also believed to strengthen a mother after childbirth, stimulate urination, menstruation, and liver functions, aid digestion, and dissolve kidney stones.

How to Use

Boil black seed with water. Strain and drink.
Bring black seed and warm milk to a boil for a short while. Cool, then drink.
Eat a teaspoon of honey mixed with black seed.
Eat black seeds plain.

Remedies Across Arabia

Following are descriptions of remedies used throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

For colic: Boil anise, cumin, and peppermint in equal quantities. Add some crystalline sugar or honey. Add 7 drops of black seed oil and drink while hot.
For colds: Grind black seed and wrap it in a cloth to snuff.
For stomach pain: Swallow seeds without cooking.
For toothaches, tonsil, and larynx pain: Boil black seed and use as a gargle. Also, swallow a spoonful of black seed with warm water on an empty stomach every day. Rub the larynx with black seed oil.
For relief from coughs and to strengthen the body: Mix ground black seed with honey and take a spoonful every morning. Alternatively, take three times a day.
To treat diseases: Grind black seed and swallow it with water or milk.
To treat rheumatism and pain in the joints: Add black seed to olive oil and fennel. (Apply externally)
For general fatigue: Use honey and black seed.
During labor: Drink milk with a tablespoon of ground black seeds.

Traditional Cosmetics

Black seed is used to beautify skin, nourish hair, and stimulate hair growth.

For healthy hair, use black seeds with shampoo, honey and yogurt. Use black seed with sesame oil. Use black seed oil on your hair.

Use a mixture of ground black seed and honey as a paste. Apply it on the face and expose it to the sun for a short time during the day. Then wash.

Mix a little powdered black seed with a little natural olive oil. Then, cover the face and neck and expose to cool sun rays for 20 minutes. Then, wash it off. This keeps your skin beautiful.

Apply black seed oil on the eyelashes and eyebrows every night before going to bed. It helps nourish the hair and helps it grow.

Use blackseed with "bukhoor shehry" (frankincense).

In the Kitchen

Black seed is aromatic with a slight peppery flavor. It is one of the distinct flavors of Arabic pastries. It is often sprinkled on breads and cheese. It is heated with milk for flavor. It is eaten ground with honey or with cakes and pastries.

Did you Know…?

In Arabia, black seed is used as protection from "the evil eye." It is burned to produce a strong smell (external treatment) and is taken as tablets followed by water (internal treatment)

Shiite Muslims believe there are 99 known names for Allah, or God. The 100th name is not known. However, it can be revealed to people on earth who are living righteously. After receiving the 100th name of God, people are able to speak with the authority of God. They can say something will come to pass, and it will.

Black seed is believed to have this 100th name of God. That is why when you cook black seed it retains its form. It is strong and protected.

02-06-2006, 04:06 PM
U know wat
I just bought black seend oil
atleast 4 ma pocket
im sorry if caps nt alloweed dun give me warning sign am showing ma frustration :'( whyyyyyyy issssss ittttttt soooooooo expensiveeee

02-06-2006, 04:11 PM
Timeless Black Seed

By I. C. Abiff


With it (water) He produces for you corn, olives, date palms, and grapes and every kind of fruit: Verily in this is a sign for those who give thought (Quran, S: 16 A: 11).

Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah's Apostle saying "There is healing in Black Cumin for all diseases except death."

Muslims have been using and promoting the use of the "Black Seed" or "Al-habbat ul Sawda" for hundreds of years, and hundreds of articles have been written about it. Black seed has also been in use worldwide for over 3000 years. However, many Muslims do not realize that black seed is not only a prophetic herb, but it also holds a unique place in the medicine of the Prophet. Black seed is mentioned along with many other natural cures in the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Mohammad [SAW]) and in the Qur'an. However, many herbs and natural cures in the Hadith and Qur'an are simply "mentioned" briefly, leaving the bulk of the descriptive narrative up to later Islamic scholars such as Ibn Sina or Ibn Rushd. Black seed is one of the few that is said to "cure all diseases except death." It is unique in that it was not used profusely before the Prophet Mohammad made it's use popular, and it is one of the few herbs that is described in great detail in the Hadith with recipes and instructions on usage actually being found in the Hadith themselves. Last, but not least, black seed has been studied by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Although there were more than 400 herbs in use before the Prophet Mohammad and recorded in the herbals of Galen and Hippocrates, black seed was not one of the most popular remedies of the time. Because of the way Islam has spread, the usage and popularity of black seed is widely known as a "remedy of the Prophet". In fact, a large part of this herbal preparation's popularity is based on the teachings of the Prophet. The Prophet not only mentioned the usefulness of black seed in his teachings, but also gave specific instructions on how to prepare the seed for medical use.

"The Prophet's Medicine" is a collection of Hadith that instruct Muslims on the subject of sickness or medical treatment. Because black seed is mentioned so prominently in these writings, all eminent and famous hakims of the past and present have written on the medicinal benefits and healing properties of "kulunji." In fact, since it was made popular in the Seventh Century, there has not been a period in Muslim history when the use of it was ever stopped. At all times the seed was utilized with the belief and faith that benefits will be derived from practicing the Holy Prophet's Sunnah (Hana, 2001).

The black seed (nigella sativa) is an example of a prophetic remedy that has been studied extensively by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Nigella sativa has been used since antiquity by Asian herbalists and pharmacists, and was used by the Romans for culinary purposes. The name nigella comes from the Latin word nigellus, meaning black. Nigella sativa are small matte black grains with a rough surface and an oily white interior, similar to onion seeds. The seeds have little bouquet, though when rubbed, their aroma resembles oregano. They have a slightly bitter, peppery flavor and a crunchy texture. The seeds may be used whole or ground and are usually fried or roasted before use (they are easily crushed in a mortar).

However, although the seeds have been used for thousands of years in the kitchen, they have also been useful in the pharmacy. Ahmad Akhtar studied the effects of the black seed on nematoce worm infections in children (Akhtar, 1999). The black seeds contain over 100 valuable components. Black seed is also a significant source of fatty acids, proteins, carbohydrates and other vitamins and minerals. The seeds are rich in sterols, especially beta-sitosterol, which is known to have anti carcinogenic activity (Tierra). The seeds are also known to repel certain insects and can be used in the same way as mothballs.

Black seed is also used in India as a spice and condiment and occasionally in Europe as both a pepper substitute and a spice. It is widely used in Indian cuisine, particularly in mildly braised lamb dishes such as korma. It is also added to vegetables and dhal dishes as well as to chutneys. The seeds are sprinkled on naan (bread) before baking and to some Garam Masala and Panch Phoran mixtures.

The Indians also use black seed medicinally as a carminative and stimulant, and to treat indigestion and bowel complaints. It is also used to induce post uterine contractions and promote lactation.

However, despite the cure-all benefits of black seed it must still be used with wisdom and caution. "The seed yields a volatile oil containing melanthin, nigilline, damascene and tannin. Melanthin is toxic in large dosages and nigilline is paralytic, so the spice must be used in moderation (the epicentre).

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