(NaturalNews) The seed of a traditional Middle Eastern medicinal plant known by the species name Nigella sativa has been shown to help lower blood pressure, among a plethora of other medicinal benefits.
Traditionally used as a spice and preservative as well as for its medicinal functions, Nigella sativa is also known by the names black seed, black cumin and fennel flower.
The study demonstrating Nigella sativa's benefits in managing high blood pressure was conducted by researchers from the Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences in Iran and published in the journal Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology in 2008. In the randomized, double-blind study, participants suffering from mild hypertension (high blood pressure) were assigned to take either a placebo, 100 mg of Nigella sativa extract, or 200 mg of the extract twice per day. After eight weeks, the researchers found that both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were significantly lowered in participants taking the Nigella sativa extract, compared both with levels at the study's start and in the placebo group. A higher dose was found to result in a greater decrease in blood pressure.
Participants in the Nigella sativa groups also experienced significant reductions in levels of overall and LDL ("bad") cholesterol relative to the study's start and to the placebo group. No complications were observed.
Other benefits of Nigella sativa
Overall, 458 separate peer-reviewed studies on the effects of Nigella sativa have been published since 1964. According to GreenMedInfo.com, these studies have confirmed the seed's benefits as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-ulcer. It also protects the kidneys and increases insulin sensitivity (thereby helping fight diabetes).
Nigella sativa has also been shown to act as a potent pain reliever to help treat type 2 diabetes; to aid recovery from narcotic drug addiction; to prevent epileptic seizures; and even to protect against chemical weapons exposure.
Studies have also shown that Nigella sativa is a potent tool in managing allergies and asthma. A 2003 research review published in Phytotherapy Research found that in four separate studies, Nigella sativa led to improvement in the symptoms of allergies including hay fever, eczema and asthma, while also improving levels of triglycerides and HDL ("good") cholesterol.
Another study, published in Phytomedicine in 2010, found that Nigella sativa improved symptoms in asthma patients by acting directly to dilate the bronchial tubes, much like conventional asthma drugs do. According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Nigella sativa also appears to dampen the hyper-responsiveness of the immune system that leads to asthma attacks, reducing the activity of white blood cells and inflammatory triggers.
Finally, the seed also has incredibly potent anti-cancer properties, in fact, and has been shown to stimulate the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells known as neutrophil granulocytes. Studies have confirmed that regular ingestion of Nigella sativa seed or seed oil can help prevent the growth and spread of carcinogenic colon cells, and other studies have demonstrated its benefit in fighting other cancers.
According to Drug Information Online, Nigella sativa is non-toxic and safe for the majority of the population, although some people have experienced adverse reactions to applying of the seed oil directly to their skin. As with any supplement, you should check with your physician before beginning treatment with Nigella sativa, which may interact adversely with certain pharmaceutical drugs.
Nigella sativa has a spicy, nutty flavor and has traditionally been added directly to food in whole or ground form. You can also grind it up and mix it with water to create a drinkable gel, which can also be used as an egg replacement in baking.