Can Black Seed Oil Help with Weight Loss?
What is black seed oil and can it help with weight loss? Here's what research, doctors, and dietitians have to say.
If you want to lose weight, many experts recommend eating a healthy diet; drinking more water; and getting some exercise. While there’s no one-size-fits-all weight loss plan, people are often willing to try any number of additional options, from special tea blends to swigging a spoonful of apple cider vinegar every day. One option sometimes touted for weight loss is black seed oil. Read on to find out what research says about the weight-loss benefits of black seed oil.
What is black seed oil?
Black seed oil is made from black caraway or black cumin seeds, also known as Nigella seeds. The oil expressed from these seeds is used more commonly than the seeds themselves. However, both have some benefits. The seeds may taste a bit bitter, so the oil, which has a spicy or peppery flavor, is preferred by many people. (Cinnamon is another spice that might help with weight loss.)
“Nigella seeds have many pharmaceutical uses,” says registered dietitian Allie Gregg, founder of MyEasyVeganDiet.com. “The seeds of the plant have been used in Southeast Asia, and the Middle and Far East as a natural remedy to treat many diseases,” Gregg says. “They’re thought to offer benefits including anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and anti-obesity effects as well as being beneficial for respiratory health.”
Can black seed oil help with weight loss?
People who promote black seed oil’s weight loss benefits chalk the supplement’s weight loss abilities up to two main attributes. First, some research suggests black seed oil may help control insulin production and manage insulin levels.
A 2011 review in the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism found that black seed oil “causes gradual partial regeneration of pancreatic beta-cells, increases the lowered serum insulin concentrations, and decreases the elevated serum glucose.” Proper glucose control may reduce cravings and may help you lose weight. These findings were mostly in rodents and only in those with pre-existing diabetes (or induced diabetes).
The second element of black seed oil’s claim to weight loss is a decrease in inflammation. An antioxidant called thymoquinone in black seed oil may help reduce inflammation or swelling in the body, according to 2013 a review in Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.
The number of studies that have looked at black seed oil for its weight loss benefits is small, but as it becomes more popular, more research is underway. A few studies already point to some promising results if you’re looking to use black seed oil for weight loss.
A small 2014 study of 20 people found that people who took black seed oil and did aerobic exercise showed better weight-loss results than people who did not take the supplement, according to a report in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine.
A 2018 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology looked at the results of 11 placebo-controlled clinical trials. The findings reveal that black seed oil may reduce body weight. People who used the supplement had a reduction in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.
The Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders conducted a systemic review in 2013 of medical literature to find plants that have the greatest anti-obesity properties. The researchers discovered and wrote in their published findings that black seed oil was among the most effective natural weight-loss remedies currently known.
How do I take black seed oil for weight loss?
Black seed oil is available as an oil, a soft gel supplement, or a liquid supplement. You can find it at many health foods or vitamin stores.
As with most supplements, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the production of black seed oil. It’s left up to the manufacturer to meet all the safety requirements. The FDA can then regulate the product if they find it makes claims that aren’t true or perhaps don’t meet the safety standards. In short, you can’t know you’re getting genuine black seed oil unless you’re buying from a reputable brand. Look for third-party testing to verify the oil’s potency.
The FDA also does not have a recommended daily dose or suggested dosing caps. Research suggests two to three grams of black seed oil per day for eight to 12 weeks for weight loss, according to Food Research International, Food & Function, The Indian Journal of Physiological Pharmacology, and PLoS One. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking the supplement as the recommended dosage may vary and some of the active ingredients in black seed oil can interfere with prescription medicines.
Bottom Line: “Even though the sample of studies is small to nonexistent when it comes to using black seed oil for weight loss, I would say there’s no harm in trying it given its other potent properties,” says Nikola Djordjevic, MD. “If you want to lose weight and obtain a healthy lifestyle, think about changing your overall diet first.” (Here’s what your doctors wish you knew about weight loss.)
- Allie Gregg, RD, founder of MyEasyVeganDiet.com
- Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism: "Antidiabetic Properties of a Spice Plant Nigella sativa"
- Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine: "A review on therapeutic potential of Nigella sativa: A miracle herb"
- International Journal of Preventive Medicine: "The Effects of 8-week Nigella sativa Supplementation and Aerobic Training on Lipid Profile and VO2 max in Sedentary Overweight Females"
- Journal of Ethnopharmacology: "The Effects of Nigella Sativa L. On Obesity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders: "A Systematic Review of Anti-Obesity Medicinal Plants - An Update"
- PLoS One: "Nigella Sativa Improves Glycemic Control and Ameliorates Oxidative Stress in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Placebo Controlled Participant Blinded Clinical Trial"
- Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology: "Effect of Nigella Sativa Seeds on the Glycemic Control of Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus"
- Food & Function: "Effects of Nigella Sativa Oil With a Low-Calorie Diet on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Obese Women: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial"
- Food Research International: "Nigella sativa oil affects glucose metabolism and lipid concentrations in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial"
- Nikola Djordjevic, MD