Black Seed (Cumin) Oil – Miracle Cure, Natural Tick Repellent? The Pros and Cons

Black Seed Oil has many benefits. The most significant:

  1. Fighting Bacterial Infections
  2. Relieving Allergies
  3. Relieving Breast Pain
  4. Reducing Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
  5. Relieving Indigestion and Heartburn
  6. Improving Memory
  7. Lowering Cholesterol

A newer discovery is its properties of a natural tick repellent.

While people have reported an immediate positive effect specially with chronic Lyme disease others have experienced serious lash-backs after several weeks of consuming black seed oil. Explanations vary from herxe (detox) reactions to increased parasitic response to the breaking up of bio-films which result in a release of hidden pathogens into the blood-streams.

There is also another aspect which has to be considered – that essential oils have to be broken up by the liver and therefore should only be taken in really small quantities.

In the past years I have worked extensively with people suffering from chronic Lyme Disease. What I found was that everyone showed symptoms of a completely exhausted liver. This has various reasons. For one, mostly everyone had been taken medication for many years which of course takes a toll on the liver. But even without medication the liver is overloaded with toxins we are exposed to in our daily life.

Our today’s livers have to work non-stop on removing toxins from our body next to the day-to-day functions such as bile production and excretion, excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones and drugs, metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, enzyme activation, storage of glycogen, vitamins and minerals and synthesis of plasma proteins such as albumin and clotting factors.

So while essential oils for sure have a lot of benefits we should take them in with caution, specially in regard to the liver and I highly recommend to always ask your physician first.

I found a very comprehensive article about black seed oil – the Pros and Cons (wile the article focuses later on more on pets it gives a general overview about studies and their conclusions about black seed oil)

Article by BARF Blog

(translated from German into English)

About two years ago, black seed oil was suddenly in the focus of dog and cat people: a then 18-year-old student had participated in an experiment at “Jugend forscht”, by which he came to the conclusion that black seed oil is probably deterrent to ticks. He was placed third in the competition.

The reason for his experiments was the observation that his own dog was less afflicted by ticks since black seed oil was mixed into the food because of an allergy.

Black seed oil was until then actually known rather for modulating and strengthening the immune system, for example in allergies. Or to help with respiratory diseases.

When the first press releases 2 years ago suggested a miracle cure for ticks by this youth research article, it must have been about early summer / summer,  I do not know exactly. In any case tick-high season.
In the following weeks, therefore, an unprecedented run on the black seed seed oil started in our shop, which until then had been in demand in small quantities.
At the end of the summer, there was even the first longer-term shortage of the oil, because obviously all the world suddenly used black seed oil in exorbitant quantities externally and internally.

At some point, however, came the first concerns and there were more and more suggestions that black seed oil is toxic to the liver and should not be used at all.

This repeats itself every year as soon as the tick season begins: the pros and cons of black seed oil.

More harm than good?

Well, let’s take a closer look.

The problem is that there is little scientific insight on black cumin. Commission E did not research black cumin, nor did the current EU organization HMPC (Herbal Medical Product Committee).

But what about research and studies on black seed oil? Good. Really. There is a significant amount of them.

For example:

  • whether the alkaloids contained in the black cumin are antibacterial
    (which was confirmed to be more significant in Gram-positive bacteria than Gram-negative and dependent on the concentration of alkaloids) (1)
  • to what extent an aqueous black cumin extract can protect against liver damage caused by tetrachloromethane, a highly liver-damaging and carcinogenic substance
    (Liver-protective properties were confirmed in this case) (2)
  • the extent to which different extracts of black cumin at different doses may be liver damaging / toxic or lethal (only in one variant at high doses degenerative damage to liver cells, no mortality) (3)
  • whether black cumin extracts can have a kidney protective, antioxidant effect (this has been answered in the affirmative) (4)
  • whether ingredients of the black cumin can affect allergic asthma / hay fever
    (there have been a number of studies on this subject, with different focuses and different experimental arrangements, all of which showed that the ingredients of black seed oil have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce allergic reactions) (5)

Black cumin (oil) and its ingredients are the subject of many studies. Above all, the anti-inflammatory effect was repeatedly examined and confirmed in different questions. (e.g., 6)

Now comes the big BUT:

Most of the black cumin / black seed oil studies have been done either in vitro or in animals or mice. To what extent the results are transferable to dogs and cats is always such a thing. It does not work that way in most cases.

Often, the studies have been conducted only for a fairly short period of time.

With regard to allergic events and anti-inflammatory processes, there are also studies that relate to humans.

But in terms of dogs, proven research results are really manageable, to say the least.

In addition, in many studies only isolated ingredients were tested, but not the effects of the interaction of the various plant substances contained which means that the results may not simply be transferred one to one to the use of black seed oil.

So what do you do in such cases?

We have to rely on common sense.

Let’s take a look at what we know beyond doubt about black seed oil.

In any case, the high proportion of essential oils is guaranteed. This can be recognized very clearly even without any special knowledge because black seed oil has this unmistakable, slightly pungent odor. And the smell is also quite persistent – who accidentally spilled  black seed oil on himself knows what I mean.

The moment we realize that an oil or plant obviously contains quite a few essential oils it should “click” right away in the back of the head for two reasons:

  1. essential oils have to be broken down via the liver
  2. which as a result means that essential oils should always be taken in small quantity

Knowing this is the essential point when using black seed oil.

Another point is that with all the data at hand regarding black seed oil there is no such thing as a 100% guaranteed dosage information.

But that’s a problem that is pretty familiar to anyone who feeds raw: whether herbs, trace elements or vitamins, you sometimes have to live with not everything being researched as well as you would like or that Information on dosages may differ from each other.

When not to use black seed oil?

Cats

In cats. Because cats and essential oils is basically never a particularly good combination.
Again, the lack of glucuronidation of the cat is the cause. Normally the contained terpenes and phenols in an essential oil are bound to glucuronic acid in the liver to be expelled from the body.

This is the case for example with dogs or with us humans.

In cats, this degradation option works very slowly. This is because they lack a specific enzyme that helps in glucuronidation to convert fat-soluble molecules into water-soluble metabolic end products. (Yes, yes, cats and their missing enzymes – an inexhaustible topic.)

In short: for cats no essential oils for external use and no other oils which have a high proportion of essential oils in the feed. Point.

Liver Disease

In certain cases black seed oil should not be used for dogs, either i.e. if there is a liver diseases or if painkillers have to be taken regularly because the liver has already enough to do with the break down of the drugs.

In other words: If the liver is already working beyond the ‘normal’ levels there should be no intake of black seed oil.

Pregnancy

Oils or supplements with high levels of essential oils should not be given to pregnant females as they can promote an abortion.

Should you use black seed oil at all?

Where black seed oil is used traditionally hymns of praise have been sung on it and in the Eastern world where black cumin is primarily grown it is one of the home remedies (for humans). And that is with good reasons.

Why black seed oil is really very well suited as dropwise (!) supplement:

in allergies and skin / coat problems. In this case, you do not use it daily, but on average about 2-3 times a week.

Also, black seed oil has a slightly anti-worm effect, but you would always work here with very small amounts and also here the daily dose is neither necessary nor recommended.

For these two applications, black seed oil from my personal experience can be used with very good results considering these points:

do not administer daily
use only in small quantities
Never use for cats, pregnant she-dogs or liver impairment
And: Of course, always high-quality, controlled oils should be used, preferably with guaranteed proof of origin, preferably in organic quality.

Conclusion

The quantity makes the poison.

What applies to so many other things also applies to black seed oil. If high amounts are used daily for the prevention of ticks black seed oil causes more harm than good in the medium or long term.

Clearly the idea is incredibly tempting to finally have found a natural, effective remedy for ticks.

Quasi the easy way out of the dilemma of considering whether to use chemical preparations with all their side effects or the risk of transmission of diseases by ticks. Especially if in dogs other natural means of tick prophylaxis do not show the desired success.

But: But black seed oil is unfortunately not an alternative because it would have to be used daily in quite large quantities. And then again the risk of harm outweighs the benefits.

Nor is black seed oil an oil that should be used daily as an additive in BARF.

But to generally demonize black seed oil or to take it too critically to use it means disregarding the positive qualities. Which would be as nonsensical as to praise it uncritically.

For applications such as allergies, the anti-inflammatory properties of black seed oil can be of great service.

It is clear that you always have to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the feed is useful and in what quantities. If in doubt, you should consult a knowledgeable THP.

Named studies:
(1) A.S. Ismaeil, Effect of Black Seed Alkaloids Against Some Pathogenic Bacteria. 2011
(2) A. Jaswal, S. Shukla, Therapeutic efficacy of Nigella sativa Linn. seed extract against CCl4 induced hepatic injury in Wistar rats. 2015
(3) Vahdati-Mashhadian N., Rakhshandeh H, Omidi A., An investigation on LD50 and subacute hepatic toxicity of Nigella sativa seed extracts in mice. 2005
(4) Canayakin D, Bayir Y, Kilic Baygutalp N, Sezen Karaoglan E, Atmaca HT, Kocak Ozgeris FB, Keles MS, Halici Z. Paracetamol-induced nephrotoxicity and oxidative stress in rats: the protective role of Nigella sativa. 2016
(5) A M Alsamarai, M A Satar, A Alobaidi, Evaluation of Therapeutic Efficacy of Nigella sativa (Black Seed) for Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis. 2012
(6) Bashir MU, Qureshi HJ, Saleem T., Comparison of Anti-Infalammatory Activity of Nigella Sativa and Diclofenac Sodium in Albino Rats. 2015