Within Islam there are many herbs, plants and fruits that are believed to have medicinal and healing properties. Olive, pomegranate, dates and figs are amongst those that are directly mentioned in the Qur’an as blessed foods.
However, there is only one that can stake a claim as a super food and that is Black cumin, fennel flower, or ‘Habbat ul Sawda’ as it is known in Arabic. According to hadith, the Prophet Muhammed is believed to have said: “In the black seed is healing for every disease except death.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, the black seed plant (Nigella sativa, also Roman coriander) has been used medicinally by Muslims and non-Muslims alike for hundreds of years. In fact the earliest written reference to the black cumin is in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament where Isaiah talks of the harvesting of the black seed.
It was also mentioned in the Bible as the curative ‘black seed’ and has been used by Asian herbalists and the Romans for culinary purposes. However it never really held any place of importance until the rise of Islam.
A Cure For All Things
Within Arabo-Islamic culture, the black seed has been prescribed for various ailments including fever, asthma, chronic headaches, diabetes, digestion, back pain, infections and rheumatism. In fact, since its rise in popularity in the Seventh century the black seed has remained a staple of family medicine within the Muslim world. The black seed is believed to have 100 components and is a significant sources of fatty acids, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Whenever I get a cold or flu, the first things that gets added to my hot drinks is black cumin and although it leaves no taste in the drink- the trick is to chew the seeds rather than just swallow them whole.
They have a slightly bitter and peppery taste but nothing too strong so it is a relatively pain-free medicine. My mother constantly tells me about its amazing properties and it seems that there science out there to back it up.
A Revival In Natural Medicine
Black seed has been scientifically proven to demonstrate strong anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties which support its claims to be of medicinal value for various ailments. There was also interesting studies carried out which found that black cumin had inhibitory effects on carcinogens and was also helpful for fighting tumours.
You can buy black cumin oil which is considered a potent anti-oxidant for treating cancer.
Nigella sativa has been used as traditional medicine for centuries. The crude oil and thymoquinone (TQ) extracted from its seeds and oil are effective against many diseases like cancer, cardiovascular complications, diabetes, asthma, kidney disease etc. It is effective against cancer in blood system, lung, kidney, liver, prostate, breast, cervix, skin with much safety. The molecular mechanisms behind its anticancer role is still not clearly understood, however, some studies showed that TQ has antioxidant role and improves body’s defense system, according to this study.
A rise in interest of Mediterranean cuisine and herbs has highlighted the uses of the black seed which seems to be enjoying a revival in popularity across the Muslim world and in the West. It has been introduced to recipes and is even an ingredient in Evoca cola which is also known as ‘Islam Cola’.
Black seed can also be used as a spice and particularly as a substitute to pepper- although with its additional properties it really does give flavour with added health benefits.
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