Black cumin’s anti-inflammatory potential may have airways/asthma benefits: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/Daniela Andreea Spyropoulos
© iStock/Daniela Andreea Spyropoulos
Supplements containing oil from black cumin (Nigella sativa) may improve asthma control and lung function, says a new study.

The seed and oil of Nigella sativa have been used extensively in traditional medicine in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries for the treatment of a range of conditions, including some immune and inflammatory disorders.

The new study, published in Phytotherapy Research,​ found that one gram per day of the oil for four weeks led to significant improvements in scores of asthma control and a “remarkable reduction of peripheral blood eosinophil count,” wrote the authors

“Eosinophil cell plays a major role in asthma inflammation, and blood eosinophil count is considered to be a vital biomarker in asthma trials. To our knowledge, this is the first [randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial] that showed a significant reduction of blood eosinophilia by [​Nigella sativa oil (NSO)] among asthmatic patients.”

Study details

Scientists from University College London (UK) and King Abdulaziz University (Saudi Arabia) recruited 80 asthmatics and randomly assigned them to one of two equal groups. The participants received either capsules containing 500 mg of NSO twice per day or placebo for four weeks.

Data from the 60 people who completed the study (10 dropouts in each group) indicated that the black cumin supplement was associated with significant improvements in mean score on the Asthma Control Test, compared to placebo.

Life Extension Black Cumin
Black cumin oil products are commercially available through brands such as Life Extension. Structure-function claims made on the products include: “Modulates key regulators of inflammation”

In addition, the black cumin group also experienced a significant decrease in blood eosinophils: −50 versus 15 cells/microliter.

A non-statistically significant improvement in lung function, measured as forced expiratory volume in 1 second, was also associated with the black cumin supplements.

“The NSO supplementation appeared to be effective in enhancing the control of asthma symptoms with a trend in pulmonary function improvement,” ​wrote the researchers. “These findings may provide an evidence for the potential benefits of NSO supplementation in the clinical management of asthma.

“Future studies should follow patients for a longer period and use additional outcomes to validate the benefits of NSO in asthma.”

Source: Phytotherapy Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/ptr.5761
​Nigella sativa Supplementation Improves Asthma Control and Biomarkers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial”
Authors: A. Koshak, et al. 

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