Now that it's sniffle and sneeze season, people are already looking for relief. Black cumin seed oil contains a known immune modulator that could potentially help millions of people dry up their sinuses.
Now, we're not talking about the spice cumin - that's a totally different plant species from black cumin. This is something else entirely.
So, although I would always advise to cook liberally with cumin, it probably won't help your runny, itchy nose. Sorry.
But black cumin, however, may very well help because it provides thymoquinone - an immune modulator. Let's explore how it works.
Allergies and Your Immune System
Your immune system requires specific proteins, also called cytokines or interleukins, to communicate between white blood cells. This elaborate communication network allows for
coordinated attacks against bacteria, viruses and sometimes innocent grasses, trees and even foods.
The immune system doesn't discriminate against anything that it perceives as potentially harmful - including living things found in nature. The seemingly innocent allergens from nature enter your body through the air and elicit an immune attack, all coordinated by those immune system proteins.
With allergens in your body, the proteins activate B-cells to produce an antibody called IgE. This in turn can increase the production of a number of different immune cells, including histamine releasing mast cells. The end result is a surge of histamine that causes the allergy symptoms you have grown to hate.
Thymoquinone Helps Control Several Immune Proteins
Thymoquinone, found in black cumin seed oil, has actually been shown to help control or modulate the production and release of the immune proteins explained above.1,2
So what does this mean for you? Well, it could mean less histamine release, fewer allergy symptoms, and less frustration with your immune system overall.
A quick disclaimer though - the studies showing thymoquinone's specific effect on immune proteins were conducted in conjunction with common allergy medications. The studies in the next section below, however, were conducted using thymoquinone exclusively.
Thymoquinone Improves Allergy Symptoms
In four studies, 152 patients with allergic rhinitis and asthma were treated with black cumin seed oil standardized to thymoquinone.3 The researchers studied the subjective severity of symptoms and some objective allergy measurements, including IgE antibody levels, eosinophil count, endogenous cortisol and ACTH. And because it's a healthy oil, they also checked total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides.
The following results were published:
- The score of subjective allergy symptoms improved in all four studies.
- There was a decrease in IgE levels and eosinophil count.
- Plasma triglycerides decreased and HDL cholesterol increased.
- Cortisol levels and ACTH release remained unchanged.
The authors concluded that black cumin seed oil "proved to be an effective adjuvant for the treatment of allergic diseases." Pretty interesting, isn't it?
1. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Sep 2;137(2):1028-34.
2. Egypt J Immunol. 2005;12(1):95-102.
3. Phytother Res. 2003 Dec;17(10):1209-14.