This Ancient Egyptian Wonder Oil Can Give You Gorgeous Hair, Boost Your Sex Drive, And More
Believed to originate in Egypt, black cumin seed oil is now cultivated in North Africa, Asia, and Europe. The ancient Egyptians used the black cumin as a digestive aid and as medicine for colds, headaches, and infections, and the herb was also valued in Europe for healing and as a spice until the 18th century, when it began to be used as a decorative plant in gardens.
But aside from its healing properties, black cumin seed oil has a ton of benefits on the beauty front (plus, it has potential to help with sex drive). Here, six ways you can benefit from this ancient Egyptian wonder oil:
It can help your hair grow.
When applied to the hair, it imparts conditioning, softness, luster, and strength to the strands. It's been used in many cultures historically to promote hair growth—just rub it into the scalp and let it sit for an hour or so to take effect. Or, you can dilute it with a carrier oil (or add it to shampoos), which can help reduce flakiness.
Another study found that black cumin seed oil could help reduce hair loss—participants in the study found a 76% reduction in hair loss.
It can help improve the immune system.
The plant is now gaining worldwide recognition as a powerful immune-supportive. Nigellone semohiprepinon, an active healing ingredient in black cumin seed, is known for its immune-boosting properties and is also a bronchiodilator (it can relax and expand lung airways). Black cumin seed can also reduces the release of histaminies into the bloodstream, which makes it a natural aid for alleviating allergic responses.
It can help with acne and scarring.
Just like its anti-inflammatory properties can help soothe the scalp, black cumin seed oil is touted for its skin-healthy benefits. One study found that a lotion containing 10% black seed oil significantly and positively affected acne after two months. Another experiment also found that black cumin seed oil can help reduce acne scars, as it was found to speed wound healing when applied topically.
Additionally, the oil can improve skin hydration and moisture, according to a 2015 review. It seems like if there's one oil you want to have in your beauty stash, you might want to make black cumin seed oil your go-to.
It can aid in weight loss.
The phytochemicals contain anti-obesity properties. Although Nigella sativa is not traditionally believed to treat obesity, it is a wonderful anti-inflammatory agent that helps people lose weight in the same way that it helps diabetic sufferers: by regulating insulin and hormone levels that help promote weight balance.
(Check our full guide to black cumin seed oil for more information on weight loss.)
It can help boost sex drive.
In ancient times, it was used to increase sex drive and treat sexual disorders, and this claim has been backed up in the modern era, with multiple studies showing its ability to increase libido and sperm count. It also has been shown in a 2018 study as a natural aid for erectile dysfunction; however, this experiment was an animal study, so much more research is needed.
It can help with infections—even those resistant to antibiotics.
Importantly, as many strains of bacteria are becoming antibiotic-resistant, black cumin seed has been found to inhibit the growth of dangerous bacteria. In a study of 144 strains of bacteria, black cumin seed was found to inhibit 97 types, far outperforming traditional pharmaceutical antibiotics.
How to use black cumin seed oil.
Want to add black cumin seed oil to your daily regimen? Look for one that's cold-pressed and organic. You can take a teaspoon by mouth as a supplement, or use it in salad dressings or smoothies (you don't want to cook with it, as it diminishes its therapeutic potency). The flavor is quite spicy, but overall pleasant—never bitter.
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Nadim Shaath, Ph.D., is the author of Healing Civilizations: The Search for Therapeutic Essential Oils and Nutrients. He received his B.S. (Honors) in chemistry from the University of Alexandria, Egypt, and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota. He joined the chemistry faculty at the State University of New York at Purchase, where he became chairman. He served as the executive vice president and technical director of Felton Worldwide and then founded KATO Worldwide Ltd. in Mt. Vernon, NY, and Alpha Research & Development Ltd. in White Plains, NY, and is currently its president. Alpha R&D Ltd. is a research, sourcing, and product development company in the fields of essential oils and sunscreens. Shaath is a frequent speaker/moderator at many scientific meetings and is the author of numerous articles on essential oils, aromatherapy, and sunscreen journals and publications. He is the author and editor of four books on sunscreens and ultraviolet filters and writes a bimonthly column in the industry magazine Happi entitled “The Sunscreen Filter.”