Black cumin seed - also known as black seed or nigella sativa - has been in use as a traditional medicine for thousands of years throughout India, Arabia, Northern Africa and much of Europe as a remedy for rheumatism, respiratory ailments and as an anti-inflammatory agent. Modern medical research to determine the mechanisms of action of the seed oil's components - mostly animal studies - have determined significant anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity. The research and resource links at the bottom of the page will detail the various uses of the seed, as well as some of the research performed.
Supplemental use, mixed with liquid, inhalation and topical application
The simplest way to supplement your diet to sprinkle the seeds on your food. A staple spice in Northern India, you'll find the seeds to be darker than common cumin - though not black - but with a milder, sweeter flavour. As with the cumin already in your kitchen, the seeds may be left whole or ground for use in cooking or flavouring sauces. Capsules of the seed oil are also available for use as a daily supplement.
The seeds may be lightly crushed and allowed to steep in hot water for an herbal tea. You may flavour the infusion with other herbs, lemon and honey. Black cumin oil may be added to herbal infusions, juices or foods.
As a remedy for some sinus and respiratory ailments, the oil is added to a bowl of very hot water and the vapour inhaled. For some skin problems the same preparation is followed and the vapour allowed to suffuse the face.
For skin complexion, joint inflammation, muscle pain, headache, cough and, even, colic and hair loss, black cumin oil may be massaged directly onto the skin. For earaches it is combined with olive oil, warmed, and dripped into the ear. For use on some skin conditions the oil is applied directly to the affected area.
Avoid toasting black cumin before using or grinding, as you would common cumin, as this destroys much of the oil.
To preserve the essential oils, black cumin seeds, as with all spices, should be stored in an airtight container, away from heat or sunlight - as should the seed oil.
Consult with your physician before using any traditional or alternative remedies, as many can cause interactions with drugs you might be using.
Allergic reactions have been reported when used topically - directly on the skin - so apply it first to a small area to determine if there's an adverse reaction.
Never administer medicine of any kind - traditional or modern, topical or for internal use - to your child before first consulting with your paediatrician.