Black cumin is a medicinal herb that can be used as an ingredient in food. Humans have used black cumin since ancient times for different purposes.


Black cumin is a medicinal herb and can use as an ingredient in food. Humans have used black cumin since ancient times for different purposes.

In Egypt, archaeologists have discovered black cumin oil in the tomb of  ancient king Tutankhamun, an ancient pharaoh. So it proves that it was used in Egypt in ancient times. Its scientific name is Nigella sativa, and in Pakistan it is commonly called Kalonji.

While it is also called Roman coriander, black caraway, black seed, and fennel flower. The plant species is important cytogenetically and may be used as a model plant for better understanding genes and chromosomes.

It is very important for Muslims because of its value in Islam. In Islam, it is regarded as being able to treat all diseases except death. The importance of cumin in the Bible is also proven.

Black cumin is very similar to black sesame but distinguishable because of its taste; they are not interchangeable.

Black cumin has been used for medicinal purposes since very ancient times to treat animal and human diseases. It has great medicinal properties and is used in Ayurvedic medicine.

It is also used in the prevention of different diseases. The composition of black cumin is also representative of its importance. It contains 20.85% protein, 38.20% fat, 4.64% moisture, 4.3% ash, 7.94% crude fibre and 31.94% total carbohydrates. It also contains potassium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and copper. So it contains essential components necessary for health.

The crude oil and thymoquinone extracted from  its seed and oil are effective against diseases like cancer, asthma, kidney diseases, heart diseases, respiratory diseases, etc.

Its role in cancer is not clearly revealed, but  some studies have proved that thymoquinone has a role as an antioxidant and plays a role in improving the defence mechanisms of the body by inducing apoptosis and controlling the Akt pathway. It helps in treating brain cancer, breast cancer, oral cancer, etc.

It is effective for improving the memory of the elderly. Consume it daily with an empty stomach for better brain functioning.

Kalonji helps improve digestion due to its digestive and appetiser properties. It is hot in nature and reduces excess mucous accumulation. Kalonji has a wonderful effect on hair because it contains hair loving nutrients and makes it thick and strong.

Black cumin is very good for skin as it reduces melanin and acne.It removes acne because of its anti inflammatory and anti microbial effects. It is used in the treatment of psoriasis (scaly red patches on the skin)

Black cumin stimulates tissue growth due to thymoquinone and helps heal the skin. It is very helpful in treating vitiligo (a disease in which loss of pigmentation of the skin occurs). Black cumin decreases body fat and helps decrease body weight.

Due to thymol, it acts as an antifungal. It is very good for the heart because it strengthens the blood vessels. It helps inhibit blood clots by increasing the elasticity of blood vessels. It helps regulate sugar levels by stimulating pancreatic function, increasing serum insulin, and decreasing glucose at elevated levels.

It improves the immune system by increasing lymphocytes and interferon production. It has anti convulsive properties and reduces the frequency of convulsions

Shortly, black cumin has antifungal, anticancer, antidiabetic, cardiovascular, gastric, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-allergic, and anti-inflammatory activities.

So considering its importance, it should be used in our daily lives in our food. It is a very important spice used in different cuisines around the world.

It is  use in Biryani, Dal, curries , hummus, falafel, za’atar  spice blends, harissa paste, couscous , pilaf, nihari  and kebabs. It pairs well with other spices like turmeric and citrus flavor like lemon and lime.  So, considering its benefits and medicinal value it must be add in our diet for healthy life.

By Zahra Noor

I am student of Plant Breeding and Genetics in university of Agriculture, Faisalabad having aim to serve world in managing food issues.