Spice for sleep: Akay’s patented black cumin ingredient to launch in the US

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Black cumin, a food spice, has shown benefits for alleviating insomnia. © Getty Images
Black cumin, a food spice, has shown benefits for alleviating insomnia. © Getty Images

Related tags India Spice Sleep

Indian functional spice supplier Akay Natural Ingredients’ patented black cumin (nigella sativa) sleep aid ingredient will hit the US market in the upcoming months.

The “spiceuticals” company focuses on developing kitchen spices with functional health benefits into health beneficial ingredients.

The company recently secured a US patent for its thymoquinone-enriched black cumin oil, sold via the tradename BlaQmax. The ingredient, available in the form of liquid and powder, is also approved for making the functional claim of treating “anxiety, stress, and sleep disorder without affecting memory” in the US.  

Chief marketing officer Emmanuel Nambusseril told NutraIngredients-Asia ​that three US retailers had already expressed interest in incorporating BlaQmax into finished nutraceutical products and one of the retailers will be launching its product under its in-house brand by May.

The US is also the first market which Akay is selling the ingredient to, with the company seeing the country as a launchpad.

“The US is the pioneer, the biggest market for this kind of product and so we are using it as a launchpad and preferably, we will be moving into other markets in Europe and Asia,”​ said Nambusseril.

A patented technology of supercritical fractionation is used to extract a unique composition of black cumin oil responsible for producing the sleep-inducing effects.

Besides soft gels, he said that the ingredient could be made into tablets, capsules, and sachets.

“We have managed to bring tasty sachets to use in travel kits etc as a sleep-aid to consume after dinner, in water or milk or juice,”​ he added.

How does it work?

According to the company’s Chief Research Officer Dr Krishnakumar I M, BlaQmax brings about sleep aid and anxiety relief benefits by acting on the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis.

“We have seen that it is working in the HPA axis, which is very important for the sleep cycle and circadian rhythm. 

“It regulates cortisol-related hormones, leading to a cascade of reactions, and finally reduces the cortisol levels for a better sleep,” ​Dr Krishnakumar told us.  

Pilot study

In a pilot study conducted in India, it was found that there was an improvement in the total duration of sleep and deep sleep time in individuals who took BlaQmax.

The study involved 15 subjects who were provided with a soft gel capsule containing 200mg of the ingredient once per day after dinner for 28 days.

Polysomnographic analysis was performed to observe the sleep patterns.

Results showed that total sleep time, sleep latency, and sleep efficiency had improved, with an increase of 82.49% in non-rapid eye movement sleep and 29.38% in rapid eye movement sleep.

The findings have been submitted for publication for a journal and is currently under review.

Potential for other uses

Dr Krishnakumar said the ingredient could potentially be used in other areas, such as regulating high blood pressure.

“We will be doing more studies with this ingredient in different directions, because it is also known to be good for hypertension, cholesterol management, weight management, and so we will want to use it for other properties as a daily supplementation as well.”

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