Is Black Seed Oil Beneficial for Weight Loss?

Dr. Christopher McGowan
April 15, 2022

When you’re trying to lose weight, finding new techniques and supplements to aid your journey is a natural urge. In recent decades, the market for diet-related supplements and special foods has skyrocketed. Indeed, it can be difficult to discern helpful advice from just the latest fad. One food item that has had a recent spike in popularity is black seed oil. In addition to promising a variety of health benefits, some proponents of black seed oil claim that it can also assist with weight loss. But is there any truth to the claim? 

What is Black Seed Oil?  

Black seed oil is derived from the seeds of Nigella sativa, a small flowering plant that can be found in parts of Europe, northern Africa, and Southwest Asia. The plant itself is often referred to interchangeably with its seed and is commonly known as black seed, black caraway, black cumin, kalonji, or simply nigella. In addition to oil, the seed is a food additive that can be used as a spice. Nigella sativa has been given the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) designation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

The oils extracted from N. sativa seeds have been used for thousands of years for a variety of purposes. Historical records show it being used as a flavoring for food in many places around the world. In the Middle East, it was used in traditional medicine; ancient Persian culture used it to treat shortness of breath. Recent studies have suggested to researchers that black seed and Nigella sativa oil may actually have numerous health benefits, but further study is required.    

Health Benefits of Black Seed Oil  

As with any substance that claims to have wide-reaching benefits, it’s wise to evaluate it with a bit of skepticism. Though preliminary research is promising, none of the purported benefits have been definitively demonstrated. Nevertheless, the use of black seed oil has been linked to a number of possible health benefits: 

  • Nutritional Value: One of the clearest benefits of black seed is as a good source of nutrients and healthy fatty acids. The body uses such nutrients for cell growth and repair and various other body functions. 
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants are compounds that prevent free radicals from forming and potentially harming our cells. Black seed oil is especially rich in a compound called thymoquinone that has strong antioxidant properties. 
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Most likely due to thymoquinone as well, black seed oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and relax muscles all around the body. Some clinical trials with a placebo group have also seen black seed oil ease the symptoms of patients with inflammation-related gastrointestinal disorders. 
  • Asthma: Asthma is a chronic lung condition that involves inflammation of the airways and difficulty breathing. Black seed oil may help treat asthma by reducing inflammation and relaxing the muscles that control breathing. 
  • Blood Sugar: For people with type 2 diabetes, black seed oil and black seed in capsule form may have a positive impact on controlling blood sugar levels. Several studies have shown statistically significant improvements in blood sugar and hemoglobin levels after only 1-3 months of use. 
  • Heart Disease: High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and high triglycerides are all substantial risk factors for heart disease and related conditions. Numerous studies have indicated that black seed oil might be able to reduce all three after 6-12 weeks of use. 
  • Brain Health: Research into the effect of black seed oil on brain health is still in its infancy, but preliminary results suggest that the inflammation-fighting powers of thymoquinone may also reduce neuroinflammation. Neuroinflammation is believed to play a major role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.    

Black seed and its many forms are also purported to have uses related to the skin and hair. Black seed oil can be used topically to soothe skin irritation and hydrate the hair. In addition to its well-known anti-inflammatory properties, black seed is also suspected to have antimicrobial effects. Because of this, there is reason to believe that black seed could help treat some skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, or general dry skin.   

Are There Any Potential Side Effects?

To date, there has been limited research on the long-term effects of black seed oil. Given its long history of use and FDA approval, however, it should be safe to use for most people. In one study, where participants took 1 tsp of black seed oil each day for 8 weeks, some reported nausea and bloating. There is also an open question about the effect of black seed on the kidneys; some studies have shown a negative effect and some have shown a positive effect. Another minor concern with black seed is related to its interaction with certain prescription medications like beta blockers or anticoagulants.  

Can Black Seed Oil Help With Weight Loss?     

The question of black seed oil and weight loss depends in part on the claim being made. Some products claim that it can “melt away” fat, boost your metabolism, or control your appetite, but there is no substantive evidence that supports the claims. Studies have shown that black seed oil as a dietary supplement appears to have no direct effect on the weight loss process, so it shouldn’t be relied upon for that purpose. 

In a more indirect way, though, black seed oil might be helpful, and the reason for that comes back to thymoquinone, the main active component of black seed. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of thymoquinone may play a role in weight loss simply by mitigating some of the factors that contribute to obesity. So even though black seed oil can’t really help you lose weight, it could potentially assist a weight loss journey that was already underway.  

Alternative Weight Loss Solutions

The bottom line: black seed oil doesn’t really help with weight loss, but it does have wide-ranging anti-inflammatory properties that could ultimately improve overall health. The truth is that no individual supplement or food can significantly impact weight loss outside of a serious weight loss plan. Most people probably could benefit in a small way from using black seed oil, but if you want to lose weight, a different approach is probably in order. 

If you’ve tried diets and supplements and special exercises but still haven’t been able to lose weight, you’re not alone. The staff at True You Weight Loss is passionate about providing alternative weight loss solutions that actually work and help you keep the weight off over the long term. If you’d like more information about our state-of-the-art, non-surgical weight loss procedures, please contact us today to request a consultation.  

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan
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