History of medicine
Origian black cumin (Carum bulbocastanum) is rarely available, so N. sativa is widely used instead; in India, Carum carvi is the substitute. Cumins are from Apiaceae or Umbelliferae (both names are allowed by the ICBN) family, but N. sativa is from Ranunculaceae family. Black cumin (not N. sativa) seeds come as paired or separate carpels, and are 3-4mm long. They have a striped pattern of nine ridges and oil canals, and are fragrant (Ayurveda says, "Kaala jaaji sugandhaa cha" (black cumin seed is fragrant itself), blackish in colour, boat-shaped, and tapering at each extremity, with tiny stalks attached; it has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, both as a herb and pressed into oil, in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. It has been traditionally used for a variety of conditions and treatments related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal health, kidney and liver function, circulatory and immune system support, as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antioxidants, anticancer, antiviral and for general well-being.
In Islam, it is regarded as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine available. In the Unani Tibb system of medicine, black cumin is regarded as a valuable remedy for a number of diseases. Sayings of Mohammed clearly underline the significance of Nigella sativa. According to a hadith narrated by Abu Hurerah, he says, "I have heard Hazrat Muhammad saying that the black granules (kalonji) is the remedy for all diseases except death."
The seeds have been traditionally used in the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries to treat ailments including asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism and related inflammatory diseases, to increase milk production in nursing mothers, to promote digestion and to fight parasitic infections. Its oil has been used to treat skin conditions, such as eczema and boils, and to treat cold symptoms. Many researchers have recently also studied its reaction towards cancer, and it is said to have many anticancer properties.Its many uses have earned black cumin seed the Arabic approbation Habbatul barakah, meaning the "seed of blessing".