Seed of Blessing—A Natural Remedy
I wake up one morning in hot, humid Pakistan only to find I feel miserable, have a cold and a terrible cough. My aunt looks at me and says, ‘I have something for you.’ I follow her to the kitchen. She reaches out and takes a spoonful of honey and sprinkles small black seeds over it. I wonder aloud what the seeds are. “This will help you,” she responds, asking me to eat all of it. I discover it has a peppery bitter taste, a crunchy texture and a faint, barely detectable smell. In a few days, I am much better. It seems that the old adage “never judge a book by its cover” is true. I would have not thought that these fragile small black seeds could help but, apparently, they live up to their name – “Al-habbat ul Sawda” in Arabic, which means the ‘Seed of Blessing’.
The Seed of Blessing is said to have originated in Egypt – it has even been found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. While its scientific name is Nigella Sativa, the black seed is also referred to as fennel flower, black seed, black cumin, black caraway, Roman coriander, and Arabic seed. In Urdu it is kalonji, kezah in Hebrew and the list continues. The Seed of Blessing is native to southwest Asia, but is also grown in Connecticut in the U.S.A.
The importance of Black Seed has been mentioned in the Holy Quran and in hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). According to Abu Huraira:
“I heard Allah’s Apostle saying “Use the Black Seed, because it contains a cure for every type of ailment, except for death.”
The words, actions and saying of the Prophet Muhammad are prescriptions for a successful life, further encouraging the use of these seeds amongst Muslims. The Black Seed has also been mentioned in the Old Testament. In more recent times, Medicines of the Prophet lists as many as fifty illnesses for which Black Seed has remedial qualities.
Science corroborates this. According to the Institute of Tibb Medicine, over 150 research papers on Black Seed have been published in recent times, confirming many of the healing properties traditionally attributed to Black Seed. A clinical study at the Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University showed that Nigella Sativa has anti-cancer properties in prostate and colon cancers and could kill pancreatic cancer cells. Nigella Sativa could help those who are at high risk of developing chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and a recurrence of the latter. About 32,000 individuals succumb to pancreatic cancer in the U.S. annually. Another study at the Cancer Immune-Biology Laboratory of South California revealed that Black Cumin oil (Black Seed oil) destroys tumor cells, stimulates production of bone marrow and cells of the immune system, increases the number of antibodies producing B cells, and is a shield against the effects of viral diseases against normal cells.
Evidently, Black seeds are used to treat everyday ailments as well as complications, proving beneficial for respiratory, immune, circulatory, digestive, and urinary ailments including asthma, stomach ailments, acne, eczema to psoriasis.
Black Seed contains over 100 valuable nutrients, enabling its extensive use for healing different ailments whether used as a seed alone, herb, honey, oil, tea or combined with different items to boost its healing power. It has significant portions of all macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids. Micronutrients, too, are present as Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron to name a few, besides key ingredients such as linoleic and oleic acid.
If its healing properties do not make the Black Seed attractive enough, it is also widely used to enhance flavoring in Turkish, Lebanese, Iranian, and Indian dishes. Besides meats and curries, pickles and chutneys, the seeds are added to many spice mixtures such as Panch Puran. In Europe, the Black seed is used as a substitute for pepper. It is also used in casseroles, for canning, or extracting vinegar. They add a wonderful crunchy texture to salad dressings and taste great toasted and sprinkled on salads, fish dishes and fried foods. They are best combined with lemon, tahini and cilantro. Black seeds also make a great substitute for cumin seeds, oregano or sesame seeds. They are increasingly being used to garnish breads and sprinkled on Naan (flatbread) before baking. “Fladenbrot”, Turkish Flatbread, which is common in Germany, and Russian Black and Jewish rye breads in Eastern Europe are also garnished with Nigella.
Just as Ginseng and Echinacea have become household words, it is only a matter of time until Americans discover that the Black seed is, indeed, the Seed of Blessing. However, the source of its tremendous potency is the best healer, God Almighty. When taking any form of medicine or food for the purpose of healing, recite the supplication, “Allah Shafi Allah Kafi”, which means God is the Healer and God is sufficient.