What Are Nigella Seeds?


The nigella seed, a black seed so prevalent in Asian cooking, has been known for its healing qualities for thousands of years. It has widely become known as "the remedy of the Prophet." Its medicinal use is widely used in alternative treatments and natural cures around the world. As a spice, it is much like onion seed, with a bitter, pepper-like taste.

Nigella As A Spice

  • Cultivated from Egypt to India, nigella seeds are jet-black seeds used for cooking in Indian, Iranian, Lebanese and Turkish dishes as well as breads all over Europe. It is also known as black seed and has a distinct aroma (kind of like oregano) and adds a smoky flavor to many exotic recipes. It should not be confused with black caraway, which comes from a completely different plant and is no relation.

As an Alternative Medicine

  • Nigella sativa is used for conditions such as baldness, cancer and tumors, cardiovascular problems, flu and colds, hypertension, high blood pressure and nose and throat inflammation. It also helps strengthen the immune system. Each seed contains more than 100 chemical properties.


  • The popularity of this seed is mainly because of the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh), which are based in the Muslim religion. The Prophet has been quoted as saying, "There is healing in the black seed for all diseases except death."


  • Women who are pregnant or who expect to become pregnant should not take nigella seed or nigella sativa in any form. Anyone with medical conditions should consult a doctor before taking nigella seeds. As with any herbal supplement, moderation is key; taking 25 grams or more of the seed is toxic. Supplements should not be mixed with medications; to do so can have severe consequences for your health.

Fun Fact

  • Nigella seeds can act to repel mosquitoes and may also be used like mothballs to repel moths.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Hafiz Ismail
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