Black Seed Oil for Anxiety: New Hope for Peace of Mind

By Dr. Hamad Shafqat | Edited By Samuel Kovac | Written on October 8, 2023

Current approaches | Black seed oil science | Anxiety and black seed oil | How to use | Conclusion

Anxiety is not merely an isolated concern; it is a pervasive issue that affects millions of lives across the United States. In fact, recent statistics reveal that approximately 40 million adults, or nearly 19% of the American population, grapple with some form of anxiety disorder each year. This staggering figure highlights the urgency of exploring innovative solutions to address this mental health challenge.

One such solution gaining attention is the use of black seed oil, a natural remedy with potential anxiety-alleviating properties. This article explores the science behind black seed oil and its potential to provide relief from anxiety.

Understanding Anxiety

Before delving into the potential benefits of black seed oil, it’s important to grasp the nature of anxiety. Anxiety is a complex mental health disorder characterized by excessive worry, fear, and a heightened state of alertness. It can manifest in various forms, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and specific phobias ( [Penninx BW, Pine DS, Holmes EA, Reif A. Anxiety disorders. Lancet. 2021 Mar 6;397(10277):914-927. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00359-7. Epub 2021 Feb 11. Erratum in: Lancet. 2021 Mar 6;397(10277):880. PMID: 33581801; PMCID: PMC9248771.] ).

Anxiety can be triggered by a wide range of factors, including stress, genetics, trauma, and life events. It often leads to physical symptoms like increased heart rate, muscle tension, and sweating, making it a challenging condition to manage.

Current Approaches to Anxiety

Conventional treatments for anxiety typically involve psychotherapy and medications. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for anxiety, helping individuals identify and manage their anxious thoughts and behaviors.

Medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines, are commonly prescribed to alleviate anxiety symptoms. However, these drugs come with potential side effects and risks, including dependency ( [Nielsen M, Hansen EH, Gøtzsche PC. Dependence and withdrawal reactions to benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. How did the health authorities react? Int J Risk Saf Med. 2013;25(3):155-68. doi: 10.3233/JRS-130594. PMID: 24047687.] ).

Given the limitations and potential drawbacks of conventional treatments, many individuals are turning to complementary and alternative therapies like black seed oil to manage their anxiety.

Black Seed Oil: A Historical Perspective

Black seed oil, also known as Nigella sativa oil or black cumin oil, has a rich history of medicinal use dating back thousands of years. It was a staple in traditional medicine systems, including Ayurveda and traditional Middle Eastern medicine. In fact, it’s mentioned in various religious texts for its potential healing properties.

The oil is extracted from the seeds of the Nigella sativa plant, which is native to South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. It contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including thymoquinone, which is believed to be responsible for many of its health benefits ( [Ahmad MF, Ahmad FA, Ashraf SA, Saad HH, Wahab S, Khan MI, Ali M, Mohan S, Hakeem KR, Athar MT. An updated knowledge of Black seed (Nigella sativa Linn.): Review of phytochemical constituents and pharmacological properties. J Herb Med. 2021 Feb;25:100404. doi: 10.1016/j.hermed.2020.100404. Epub 2020 Sep 19. PMID: 32983848; PMCID: PMC7501064.] ).

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The Science Behind Black Seed Oil

Modern scientific research has begun to unravel the potential health benefits of black seed oil, including its role in addressing anxiety. Here are some key findings:

  1. Anti-inflammatory Properties: Inflammation in the body has been linked to various mental health conditions, including anxiety. Black seed oil contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the brain, potentially alleviating anxiety symptoms ( [Hannan MA, Rahman MA, Sohag AAM, Uddin MJ, Dash R, Sikder MH, Rahman MS, Timalsina B, Munni YA, Sarker PP, Alam M, Mohibbullah M, Haque MN, Jahan I, Hossain MT, Afrin T, Rahman MM, Tahjib-Ul-Arif M, Mitra S, Oktaviani DF, Khan MK, Choi HJ, Moon IS, Kim B. Black Cumin (Nigella sativa L.): A Comprehensive Review on Phytochemistry, Health Benefits, Molecular Pharmacology, and Safety. Nutrients. 2021 May 24;13(6):1784. doi: 10.3390/nu13061784. PMID: 34073784; PMCID: PMC8225153.] ).
  1. Antioxidant Effects: The antioxidants found in black seed oil can combat oxidative stress, which is known to play a role in the development of anxiety and other mental health disorders ( [Hannan MA, Rahman MA, Sohag AAM, Uddin MJ, Dash R, Sikder MH, Rahman MS, Timalsina B, Munni YA, Sarker PP, Alam M, Mohibbullah M, Haque MN, Jahan I, Hossain MT, Afrin T, Rahman MM, Tahjib-Ul-Arif M, Mitra S, Oktaviani DF, Khan MK, Choi HJ, Moon IS, Kim B. Black Cumin (Nigella sativa L.): A Comprehensive Review on Phytochemistry, Health Benefits, Molecular Pharmacology, and Safety. Nutrients. 2021 May 24;13(6):1784. doi: 10.3390/nu13061784. PMID: 34073784; PMCID: PMC8225153.] ).
  1. Neuroprotective Potential: Some studies suggest that black seed oil may have a neuroprotective effect, which means it could help protect brain cells from damage and support overall brain health ( [Farkhondeh T, Samarghandian S, Shahri AMP, Samini F. The Neuroprotective Effects of Thymoquinone: A Review. Dose Response. 2018 Apr 11;16(2):1559325818761455. doi: 10.1177/1559325818761455. PMID: 29662431; PMCID: PMC5898665.] ).
  1. GABA Modulation: GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating anxiety. Research has shown that black seed oil may influence GABA receptors in a way that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety ( [Meral I, Esrefoglu M, Dar KA, Ustunova S, Aydin MS, Demirtas M, Arifoglu Y. Effects of Nigella sativa on apoptosis and GABAA receptor density in cerebral cortical and hippocampal neurons in pentylenetetrazol induced kindling in rats. Biotech Histochem. 2016 Nov;91(8):493-500. doi: 10.1080/10520295.2016.1245866. PMID: 27849392.] ).
  1. Stress Reduction: Black seed oil has been studied for its potential to reduce stress, which is a significant trigger for anxiety. By modulating stress response pathways, it may help individuals manage their anxiety more effectively ( [Mohan ME, Thomas JV, Mohan MC, Das S S, Prabhakaran P, Pulikkaparambil Sasidharan BC. A proprietary black cumin oil extract (Nigella sativa) (BlaQmax®) modulates stress-sleep-immunity axis safely: Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Front Nutr. 2023 Apr 17;10:1152680. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1152680. PMID: 37139438; PMCID: PMC10149792.] ).

Anxiety and Black Seed Oil: What the Research Says

While the scientific evidence supporting the use of black seed oil for anxiety is still evolving, several promising studies have emerged:

  1. Animal Studies: Some animal studies have shown that black seed oil can reduce anxiety-like behaviors in rodents. These findings suggest that it may have an anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effect ( [Perveen T, Haider S, Kanwal S, Haleem DJ. Repeated administration of Nigella sativa decreases 5-HT turnover and produces anxiolytic effects in rats. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2009 Apr;22(2):139-44. PMID: 19339222.] ).
  1. Human Trials: Although limited, a few human trials have explored the impact of black seed oil on anxiety. One study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2014 found that black seed oil supplementation significantly reduced anxiety symptoms in participants with generalized anxiety disorder ( [Bin Sayeed MS, Shams T, Fahim Hossain S, Rahman MR, Mostofa A, Fahim Kadir M, Mahmood S, Asaduzzaman M. Nigella sativa L. seeds modulate mood, anxiety and cognition in healthy adolescent males. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Feb 27;152(1):156-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.12.050. Epub 2014 Jan 8. PMID: 24412554.] ).
  1. Combination with Conventional Therapy: Some individuals have reported that black seed oil supplements, when used in conjunction with conventional anxiety treatments, have helped improve their symptoms and reduce the need for higher doses of medication.
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It’s important to note that more research is needed to establish the exact mechanisms of action and the optimal dosage for using black seed oil as an anxiety treatment. Moreover, individual responses to black seed oil can vary, so it may not be equally effective for everyone.

How to Use Black Seed Oil for Anxiety

If one is interested in trying black seed oil as a natural remedy for anxiety, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Consultation with a Healthcare Professional: Before embarking on any new treatment, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, especially when currently taking medication for anxiety.
  1. Selection of High-Quality Oil: High-quality black seed oil is preferred, so individuals should look for cold-pressed, organic options to ensure they are getting a product with minimal processing.
  1. Commence with a Low Dose: Starting with a low dose of black seed oil is advisable, with the option to gradually increase it if necessary. Dosage recommendations can vary, so it is recommended to follow the guidance on the product label or seek advice from a healthcare provider.
  1. Monitoring of Individual Response: Maintaining a journal to track the response to black seed oil supplementation, including changes in anxiety symptoms over time, can help determine its effectiveness as a treatment.
  1. Be Patient: Recognize that natural remedies like black seed oil may take time to yield noticeable results. It is advisable to give it several weeks to assess its impact on anxiety.
  1. Consider Incorporating Other Lifestyle Changes: Enhancing the effectiveness of black seed oil can be achieved by combining it with other anxiety-reducing lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, and implementing stress management techniques.

Conclusion: A Promising Natural Remedy

Black seed oil holds promise as a natural remedy for anxiety thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and potentially anxiolytic properties. While the research is still in its early stages, the positive findings from animal studies and some human trials suggest that it may be worth considering for individuals seeking alternative approaches to managing their anxiety.

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However, it’s important to approach black seed oil as a complementary therapy and not a replacement for evidence-based treatments like therapy and medication. Additionally, individual responses can vary, so it may not work for everyone.

When considering the incorporation of black seed oil into an anxiety management plan, individuals should remember that, as with any health-related decision, consulting with a healthcare professional is essential. A healthcare professional can offer guidance on the most suitable and safe approach tailored to one’s specific needs, thus assisting in navigating the intricate landscape of anxiety treatment with confidence.

  1. Penninx BW, Pine DS, Holmes EA, Reif A. Anxiety disorders. Lancet. 2021 Mar 6;397(10277):914-927. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00359-7. Epub 2021 Feb 11. Erratum in: Lancet. 2021 Mar 6;397(10277):880. PMID: 33581801; PMCID: PMC9248771.
  2. Nielsen M, Hansen EH, Gøtzsche PC. Dependence and withdrawal reactions to benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. How did the health authorities react?. Int J Risk Saf Med. 2013;25(3):155-68. doi: 10.3233/JRS-130594. PMID: 24047687.
  3. Ahmad MF, Ahmad FA, Ashraf SA, Saad HH, Wahab S, Khan MI, Ali M, Mohan S, Hakeem KR, Athar MT. An updated knowledge of Black seed (Nigella sativa Linn.): Review of phytochemical constituents and pharmacological properties. J Herb Med. 2021 Feb;25:100404. doi: 10.1016/j.hermed.2020.100404. Epub 2020 Sep 19. PMID: 32983848; PMCID: PMC7501064.
  4. Hannan MA, Rahman MA, Sohag AAM, Uddin MJ, Dash R, Sikder MH, Rahman MS, Timalsina B, Munni YA, Sarker PP, Alam M, Mohibbullah M, Haque MN, Jahan I, Hossain MT, Afrin T, Rahman MM, Tahjib-Ul-Arif M, Mitra S, Oktaviani DF, Khan MK, Choi HJ, Moon IS, Kim B. Black Cumin (Nigella sativa L.): A Comprehensive Review on Phytochemistry, Health Benefits, Molecular Pharmacology, and Safety. Nutrients. 2021 May 24;13(6):1784. doi: 10.3390/nu13061784. PMID: 34073784; PMCID: PMC8225153.
  5. Farkhondeh T, Samarghandian S, Shahri AMP, Samini F. The Neuroprotective Effects of Thymoquinone: A Review. Dose Response. 2018 Apr 11;16(2):1559325818761455. doi: 10.1177/1559325818761455. PMID: 29662431; PMCID: PMC5898665.
  6. Meral I, Esrefoglu M, Dar KA, Ustunova S, Aydin MS, Demirtas M, Arifoglu Y. Effects of Nigella sativa on apoptosis and GABAA receptor density in cerebral cortical and hippocampal neurons in pentylenetetrazol induced kindling in rats. Biotech Histochem. 2016 Nov;91(8):493-500. doi: 10.1080/10520295.2016.1245866. PMID: 27849392.
  7. Mohan ME, Thomas JV, Mohan MC, Das S S, Prabhakaran P, Pulikkaparambil Sasidharan BC. A proprietary black cumin oil extract (Nigella sativa) (BlaQmax®) modulates stress-sleep-immunity axis safely: Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Front Nutr. 2023 Apr 17;10:1152680. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1152680. PMID: 37139438; PMCID: PMC10149792.
  8. Perveen T, Haider S, Kanwal S, Haleem DJ. Repeated administration of Nigella sativa decreases 5-HT turnover and produces anxiolytic effects in rats. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2009 Apr;22(2):139-44. PMID: 19339222.
  9. Bin Sayeed MS, Shams T, Fahim Hossain S, Rahman MR, Mostofa A, Fahim Kadir M, Mahmood S, Asaduzzaman M. Nigella sativa L. seeds modulate mood, anxiety and cognition in healthy adolescent males. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Feb 27;152(1):156-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.12.050. Epub 2014 Jan 8. PMID: 24412554.
  • Current Version
  • October 8, 2023
    • Written By: Dr. Hamad Shafqat
    • Edited By: Samuel Kovac