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Black cumin seed oil inhibits cancer cell activity and can even kill some types of cancer cells. Scientific research has shown that black seed oil (Nigella sativa) is an effective treatment for cancer in animal studies, and can be as effective as anti-cancer drugs for some types of cancer.
Black cumin seed oil and its extract thymoquinone have powerful benefits for various inflammatory diseases including liver cancer, melanoma skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, bone cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and brain cancer.
Despite several decades of very positive research on using black seed oil against cancer, researchers have rarely advanced their work into human clinical testing, even though the benefits are strong and the risks of negative side effects are extremely small.
As you will learn from the research findings that I will discuss, the use of black seed oil for cancer prevention and treatment has proven to be a powerful strategy for many forms of cancer. Yet black cumin seed oil still has not been recognized as beneficial by mainstream medicine. I will examine some of the political pressures that might be holding back clinical research with human cancer patients, and will consider why drug companies may wish to suppress the use of black seed oil.
Black Seeds Have Been Used to Treat Cancer for Thousands of Years
In two separate 2011 studies, Chinese researchers and Saudi Arabian researchers reviewed the scientific literature for the use of black seed oil (also called black cumin seed or Nigella sativa), with cancer. They reconfirmed the anti-cancer property of this safe and natural seed oil. They noted that black seed oil has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries.
The oil and the extracted component called thymoquinone are both effective against many diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular complications, diabetes, asthma, kidney disease, etc. It is a safe and effective agent against cancer in the blood system, lungs, kidneys, liver, prostate, breast, cervix, and skin.
These researchers noted that the molecular mechanisms behind its anti-cancer role are still not clearly understood. However, some studies showed that thymoquinone plays an antioxidant role and improves the body’s defense system. Black seed oil induces apoptosis, which means that it helps the body to systematically eliminate old cells, unneeded cells, and unhealthy cells (such as cancer cells) without releasing toxins into the body.
It also controls the Akt pathway, which means it controls the process that manages cell survival for both normal and cancer cells. Although the anti-cancer activity of Nigella sativa was recognized thousands of years ago, it was not until the past two or three decades that modern scientific research has been undertaken to study this important traditional medicine.
Black Seeds and Honey Work Together – Folk Medicine is Correct
Egyptian researchers studied the protective effect of bee honey and Nigella grains on the oxidative stress and the cancer that was created by exposing rats to a strong carcinogen. After the four groups of rats were exposed to the carcinogen, some groups were fed black seeds or honey, and one group was fed both black seeds and honey.
The rats were evaluated after 6 months. The rats that ate black seeds received an 80% protection against oxidative stress and cancer formation. Whereas the rats that ate a daily dose of both honey and black seeds were protected 100% against oxidative stress, inflammatory responses, and cancer formation.
Black Seed Oil is An Important Aid to Radiation Treatments
In a 2014 study, Turkish researchers reported how black seed oil could potentially be helpful to people receiving radiation treatment for cancer. They indicated that many cancer patients treated with radiation therapy suffer severe side effects during and after their treatment.
This study investigated the effects of irradiation and the addition of black seed oil on the oxidant/antioxidant system in the liver tissue of irradiated rats. They exposed some of the rats to a single dose of gamma radiation. One group of rats received one gram of black seed oil per kilogram of body weight one hour before the radiation and received a daily dose afterward for 10 days. Another group received the radiation treatment and was given a saline solution instead of black seed oil.
The control group was not irradiated. The analysis of the data shows that black seed oil reduces oxidative stress markers and has antioxidant effects, which also augments the antioxidant capacity in the liver tissue of rats. Thus, the use of black seed oil before radiation treatment, and for 10 days afterward, protected the rats from some of the harmful effects of radiation.
In a 2012 study in India, scientists investigated the effect of using an extract of black seeds on mice exposed to gamma radiation. A group of normal mice and a group of tumor bearing mice were tested. This experiment was done to mimic the human clinical setting where normal tissues of cancer patients are exposed to the harmful effects of radiation therapy.
The mice were given black seed extract before being exposed to the gamma radiation. They were given 100 mg of black seed extract per 1 kg of body weight. The results showed that the extract of black seed protected the liver, spleen, brain and intestines from gamma radiation damage for both the normal mice and the mice with tumors. Researchers concluded that the liquid extract of black seeds has protective effects against radiation-induced damage and biochemical alterations.
They attributed this protective effect to the ability of the extract to scavenge free radicals and to its antioxidant properties. Thus, the liquid extracted from black seeds could be used with human cancer patients who receive radiation to protect against oxidative stress in normal tissues, and to mitigate other unwanted side effects of radiation. This could improve the quality of life for cancer patients.
Black Seeds Interfere With Uncontrolled Cell Growth and Kill Liver Cancer Cells
In 2013, researchers in India investigated the use of thymoquinone, which is a compound derived from black seeds. Two groups of rats with liver cancer were studied. One group was given water to drink that contained 0.01% thymoquinone, and the other group was given plain water. After 16 weeks, the liver cancer nodules, liver injury markers and tumor markers were measured in both groups. The rats that did not receive the thymoquinone had substantial increases in liver tumor size.
However, the rats that received 20 mg of thymoquinone per kilogram for body weight had greatly reduced liver injury markers and decreased tumor markers. The group treated with thymoquinone from black seed oil did not develop liver cancer nodules, and the amount of new tumor formation was much less than the untreated group of rats. They concluded that thymoquinone had a beneficial role in the treatment of liver cancer, because of its potent ability to prevent cancer cells from proliferating.
A 2012 study from Egypt evaluated anti-tumor effects of bee honey and black seed oil on human liver cancer cells in laboratory experiments. They examined the antioxidant capacity of honey and black seed extract, and the ability of these substances to eliminate unhealthy cells such as cancer.
They found that both honey and black seed extract were effective in reducing the viability of liver cancer cells. Honey and black seed extract also improved the antioxidant status of cells and induced cancer cell death by apoptosis.
Black Seed Oil Kills Lung Cancer Cells
Saudi Arabian researchers reported in 2014 that black seeds have been used in traditional medicine to treat many diseases. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial activities of black seed oil are well known. This study investigated the anti-cancer activity of black seed oil and black seed extract when used against human lung cancer cells in the laboratory.
Scientists exposed lung cancer cells to black seed oil or to black seed extract for 24 hours. They used 0.01 mg/ml to 1 mg/ml of the oil or the extract in this experiment. After the exposure, the cancer cell viability was assessed.
The results showed that both the black seed oil and the black seed extract significantly reduce the population of living cancer cells and altered the cellular morphology. They found that the greater the concentration of the oil or the extract that was used to treat the cancer cells, the greater the level of cell death.
Also, both the black seed oil and the black seed extract caused the cancer cells to lose their typical appearance and to appear smaller in size. Researchers concluded that their data revealed that black seed extract and black seed oil significantly reduce viability of human lung cancer cells.
Black Seed Components Kill Malignant Brain Cancer Cells
Researchers from Ohio State University published a study in 2013 indicating that glioblastoma is the most aggressive and common type of malignant brain tumor in humans, with a median survival of 15 months.
These researchers emphasized that there is a great need for additional therapies for the treatment of glioblastoma. Naturally occurring phytochemicals have received much scientific attention because many exhibit potent tumor killing action.
Thymoquinone is one of the bioactive compounds of black seed oil. Thymoquinone has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer actions. It has selective cytotoxic properties for human cells, which means that it kills human cancer cells while not being harmful to normal cells.
This specific study examined how thymoquinone selectively inhibits the ability of glioblastoma cancer cells of the brain and spinal cord from making clones of themselves. Thymoquinone, however, does not inhibit normal cell activity in the human brain and spinal cord. Another important ability of thymoquinone is the inhibition of autophagy genes in cancer cells.
Autophagy in cancer cells enables continued growth of tumor cells by maintaining cellular energy production. If autophagy is inhibited, then cellular energy production for cancer cells will also be inhibited.
This will result in a regression of tumor activity, and will extend the survival of organs affected by tumors. Thus, thymoquinone’s ability to inhibit cancer cells from making clones of themselves and its ability to inhibit cancer cells from reusing cellular materials from other cells by means of autophagy, provide an exciting and emerging strategy for cancer therapy.
Black Seeds Inhibit Breast Cancer
A 2013 study, conducted in Malaysia, addressed the anti-cancer efficiency of thymoquinone when it was used for long-term treatment of human breast cancer cell lines in the laboratory. Thymoquinone showed a sustained ability to inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation with long-term treatment. The length of inhibition was determined by the size of the thymoquinone dose. Larger doses produced greater inhibition.
Black Seeds Kill Leukemia Cells
Malaysian researchers noted in a 2013 study that there is a growing interest in the use of naturally occurring compounds from traditional medicine which have anti-cancer potential. Nigella sativa (black seed) is one of the most widely studied plants. This annual herb grows in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and India. Thymoquinone is one active ingredient isolated from Nigella sativa.
The anti-cancer effect of thymoquinone, via the induction of apoptosis resulting from mitochondrial dysfunction, was assessed in an acute leukemia cell line. Researchers found that treatment of leukemia cells with thymoquinone encouraged apoptosis resulting in cell death. These results indicate that thymoquinone from black seeds could be a promising agent for the treatment of leukemia.