Black cumin extract may help manage stress, boost sleep: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

The seed and oil of black cumin have been used extensively in traditional medicine in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries for a range of conditions.    Image © Marc Bruxelle / Getty Images
The seed and oil of black cumin have been used extensively in traditional medicine in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries for a range of conditions. Image © Marc Bruxelle / Getty Images

Related tags Sleep stress management immune support black cumin oil sleep supplements Thymoquinone

Daily supplementation with a proprietary thymoquinone-rich black cumin oil extract may increase sleep satisfaction by reducing stress, says a new study from India.

Ninety days of supplementation with the branded BlaQmax ingredient (Akay Natural Ingredients) was also associated with changes to the immune status of the individuals, lead the researchers to propose the extract modulated the stress-sleep-immunity axis.

“The present randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled trial demonstrated the efficacy of a proprietary black cumin extract (BCO-5) to safely modulate the stress-sleep-immunity axis and further alleviate stress, establish restorative and restful sleep, and improve immunity among healthy subjects characterized by non-restorative sleep conditions,” wrote researchers in Frontiers in Nutrition.

Sleep category

The US sleep category has experienced impressive growth over the past few years. According to SPINS, sales of sleep supplements increased 40% and 22% in 2020 and 2021, respectively, to hit $737 million. A slight decline in dollar sales of 4.2% was recorded in 2022 for the Natural and Mass channels, but the market is still a significantly bigger category than in 2019 when it was valued at $432 million.

The category is dominated by melatonin, which was responsible for 91.5% of all sleep supplement sales.

The new study indicates that other ingredients like a thymoquinone-rich black cumin oil extract may offer consumers with an alternative to melatonin.

Study details

The India-based scientists recruited 72 people with sleep issues to participate in their randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled study. The volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either the Cumin oil extract (200  mg/day) or placebo for 90 days. Sleep and stress were assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS).

The data showed that BlaQmax supplementation led to significant improvements in a range of sleep measure, including sleep latency, duration, efficiency, quality, and daytime dysfunction, compared to both baseline and placebo.

The PSS questionnaire revealed that the cumin oil extract was associated with significant reductions in stress, compared to both baseline and placebo. Significant reductions in levels of cortisol were also reported in the BlaQmax group.

“A significant correlation was also observed between improved sleep and reduced stress as evident from PSQI and PSS,” stated the researchers.

Increases in melatonin levels were also observed in the black cumin oil group, compared to placebo.

In addition, the researchers report that the black cumin oil extract also modulate immunity status, with changes in immunoglobulins, cytokines, and CD4+, CD8+, and CD4/CD8 ratio reported.

“The novelty of the present study lies in the fact that this is the first report on the positive influence of a botanical extract, especially from a food component, on the safe modulation and alleviation of the stress-sleep-immunity axis,” wrote the researchers.

“The therapeutic potential of [BlaQmax] may be attributed to the pleiotropic mechanism of action that regulates the HPA axis and thereby modulates stress, sleep, and immunity functions, the three interconnected factors of optimized health, but with different pathways. Future studies should investigate the short-term effects of [BlaQmax] on various sleep problems by employing techniques such as actigraphy and its influence on anxiety, depression, and mood,” they concluded.

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition
Volume 10 – 2023, doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1152680
“A proprietary black cumin oil extract (​Nigella sativa) (BlaQmax) modulates stress-sleep-immunity axis safely: Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study”
Authors: M.E. Mohan et al.


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