Black cumin, or black seed, is one of the more effective natural remedies for high blood pressure. Also known as Black Coriander, Black caraway, Blessed Seed, Kalonji, Nigella, or simply as Black Seed, black cumin seed powder and black seed oil have been used for centuries to treat numerous health problems. Black seed powder and black seed oil are popular natural remedies for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels and to damp down inflammation. Research supports its traditional use, with good evidence that black cumin seed and black seed oil can lower a high blood pressure.
Black cumin seed for high blood pressure
The aromatic seed of Nigella sativa is used as a spice with a pungent flavour that is described as a cross between black pepper, onions and oregano. Black cumin seed powder is made by grinding black cumin seeds, while black cumin seed oil is extracted by pressing the seeds, or by using a solvent. This black seed oil has a rich, medicinal scent similar to that of eucalyptus or tea tree oil. You can tell it’s doing you good!
Research published in the Journal of Hypertension assessed the effectiveness of black seed in lowering blood pressure by combining the results from 11 clinical trials involving 860 people. Some of these studies used black seed powder while some used black seed oil, and compared their effectiveness in lowering blood pressure against an inactive placebo. The trials lasted from 4 to 12 weeks.
On average, those taking any black seed supplements saw their blood pressure fall by 3.26/2.80 mmHg compared with placebo. When they looked at the type of black seed supplements used, taking black seed powder lowered blood pressure by 3.57/2.23 mmHg, while taking black seed oil supplements lowered blood pressure by an average of 3.55/4.76 mmHg.
Some of the people in the studies had a normal blood pressure, while some had hypertension. When they analysed these two groups separately, they found the greatest effects in people with high blood pressure, whose readings fell by 7.66/4.89 mmHg after eight weeks of taking black seed supplements. Those using black cumin seed powder appeared to have a slightly greater reduction than those taking black cumin seed oil, although this was not certain.
The difference between black seed powder and black seed oil for high blood pressure was not so great that I can recommend one over the other.
How does black seed lower blood pressure
The way in which black cumin seed lowers a high blood pressure it not fully understood. Black cumin seed is believed to have a relaxant effect on smooth muscles and may act like a calcium channel blocker to dilate blood vessels. Other researchers suggest black seed extracts may help the heart pump more efficiently, or that black seed has a diuretic action.
Black cumin seed also contains omega-3 essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, flavonoid polyphenols and soluble fibre all of which can have beneficial effects on blood pressure control. Black seed also contains a unique alkaloid called nigellicine which may account for some of its blood pressure lowering effects.
Black seed supplements
When selecting black cumin seed supplements, most people prefer those that are grown organically.
Those made to a pharmaceutical standard known as GMP will have the purest medicinal quality and provide a consistent dose each time you take them.
If you choose to take black cumin seed oil, select an oil that is cold pressed without the use of chemical solvents, and which as no additives or additional oils to dilute its benefits.
It’s also important to select a black seed oil that is stored in dark glass to protected it from light to ensure it does not lose potency or go rancid. Alternatively, black seed oil protected within capsules are available which many people find easier to take.
You can also add freshly ground black cumin seeds to home-made curries, chilli and other spicy dishes.
Black seed and black seed oil dosage for high blood pressure
In clinical trials using black seed powder, the doses used varied between 500mg, 1g, 1.5g and 2g per day.
In studies using black seed oil, doses varied between 5ml, 200mg and 3g oil per day.
In general, higher doses had a greater effect. I suggest starting with a lower dose and then slowly increasing within the manufacturer’s recommended intake. Some products are more concentrated than others, so do not exceed stated doses.
Black seed oil side effects
None of the clinical studies have reported serious side effects. A few people have experienced mild nausea which resolves on lowering the dose.