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What Doctors Don't Know about Inflammation

January 2013

By Logan Bronwell

What You Need to Know
Healthy Couple

What Is Black Cumin Seed Oil?

Black cumin is one of the most ancient of herbal remedies. Though it has been used as a spice, black cumin should not be confused with common cumin (Cuminum cyminum).5 In many folk traditions, black cumin's antioxidant properties made it an attractive food preservative.5

Oil extracted from black cumin seeds contains a variety of components, all of which have potent free radical scavenging properties.5,7 Of these, thymoquinone is the best understood. In addition to its antioxidant powers, thymoquinone suppresses the activities of enzymes that produce inflammatory cytokines such as interleukins and leukotrienes.

But black cumin seed oil doesn't stop at suppressing inflammation. It contains other powerful ingredients that augment the immune system's patrolling surveillance and "killer" cells responsible for identifying threats such as infection and cancer cells.6

It's this ability to restore balance to the aging immune system that justifies black cumin seed's traditional names "seeds of blessing" and "panacea."5,7

Colitis and Gastro-Protection

Colitis—meaning inflammation of the colon, or large intestine—is most commonly seen in inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn's disease. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that up to 1.4 million Americans suffer from this condition.27

There is still no medical cure.

However, black cumin seed oil and its components exert powerful effects that can slow colonic inflammation.6 Lab studies reveal that pre-treating animals with thymoquinone as extracted from black cumin seed oil completely prevents experimentally-induced colitis.28

Importantly, treatment with black cumin seed oil lowers levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.29

Studies have shown that both black cumin seed oil and thymoquinone strongly protect the delicate stomach lining against the injurious effects of alcohol and other toxins, and even against the effects of stress.30,31 Markers of tissue oxidation were sharply reduced.30


Cardiovascular Disease

Atherosclerosis is a major consequence of chronic inflammation—making it an appropriate target for therapy with anti-inflammatory black cumin seed oil, with its powerful antioxidant effects. Working together, these two mechanisms lower the risk of atherosclerosis and consequently, heart attacks, strokes, and other artery diseases.

Animals supplemented with black cumin seed oil demonstrated lower levels of dangerous LDL-cholesterol, and higher levels of HDL cholesterol, which may be protective.32,33

Black cumin seed oil neutralizes lipid oxidation and reduces the impact of oxidized LDL, a major trigger for the atherosclerotic plaques that block blood flow to cause heart attacks and strokes.33

Black cumin seed oil has a major impact on a destructive process known as ischemia-reperfusion injury. This serious damage occurs to tissue and organs when, following blockage of an artery, the oxygen-rich blood flow is then restored. This complex phenomenon releases a massive outpouring of reactive oxygen species that can damage tissue as severely as the original blockage! Ischemia-reperfusion injury is responsible for many of the debilitating long-term effects seen in survivors of strokes and heart attacks.

For example, the powerful protection provided by black cumin seed oil against ischemia-reperfusion injury has now been convincingly demonstrated in the kidney—one of the main targets of the insidious effects of atherosclerosis.34

How Does Black Cumin Seed Oil Work?
Couple Playing

Black cumin seed oil is a complex mixture of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory components. These capabilities have made it useful in fighting diseases related both to excessive inflammation (virtually all age-related conditions) and to the impaired immune response of old age.6

Here are the major processes that have been identified as black cumin seed oil's mechanisms of action:

1. Antioxidant: Black cumin seed oil contains powerful antioxidants that reduce intracellular products of oxidation, boost natural cellular antioxidant systems, and scavenge free radicals before they can do harm.6,35

2. Anti-Inflammatory: Black cumin seed oil's constituents that have multiple anti-inflammatory mechanisms:

  • Suppress activity of the "master inflammatory regulator" complex NF-kappaB.36
  • Inhibit important enzyme systems such as 5-LOX and COX1 that produce inflammatory mediators called leukotrienes and prostaglandins.26,37,38
  • Reduce production of a compound called 5-HETE, a precursor of inflammatory molecules.38,39
  • Inhibit production and activity of interleukins, cytokines with complex immune modulating properties. Black cumin seed oil constituents reduce production of inflammatory interleukins, and may boost production of anti-inflammatory ones.40-42

3. Immune-Modulating Effects: In addition to suppressing chronic inflammation and free radicals, black cumin oil contributes to beneficial immune responses:

  • It boosts the infection- and cancer-fighting abilities of specific cells in the immune system.6,7
  • Black cumin seed constituents trigger appropriate activation of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the face of stimulation by dangerous bacterial structural molecules, a function vital for developing acute inflammatory responses to infections.8,9


The twin problems of increased harmful chronic inflammation combined with decreased beneficial immune responses are major contributors to aging, chronic disease, and early death.

The oil of black cumin seed has historically been used to combat conditions we now understand to be related to these fundamental, age-related, inflammatory and immunological disturbances.

Modern scientific analysis shows that black cumin seed oil contains components that re-establish optimal inflammatory balance—powerfully suppressing chronic inflammation, while at the same time promoting healthy immune responses.

As a result of that delicate immunological balancing, supplementation with black cumin seed oil has the potential to slow—and even reverse—many of the most devastating aging-related conditions.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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