Corticosteroids are a cornerstone of topical treatment in most inflammatory skin conditions. However, this treatment comes with the potential for significant risk including thinning of the skin, development of spider veins and suppression of normal stress responses via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. So recently when a client of mine (thank you!) sent through a study outlining the use of Nigella sativa seed oil (Black seed oil) on psoriasis-like lesions I was thrilled. I then went searching for other reports of its use for similar conditions and came up with lots of research with great potential.
Black seed oil is native to Asia and has been used traditionally in the Middle East and Southeast Asia as a topical and oral herbal medicine. Studies on Black seed oil have showed that it has a wide range of potentially therapeutic effects: immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant. Even more significant, the specific potential of Black seed oil with regard to skin health is extensive:
- Anti-microbial – studies have shown Black seed oil to be anti-microbial against a wide range of microbes, particularly multiple-antibiotic resistant bacteria (Staphylococcus aureas, pseudomonas and e. coli). A study in newborn babies with pustular Staph infections showed that use of a low dose 33% concentration of Black seed oil was nearly as effective as a standard topical antibiotic with no side effects.
- Anti-fungal against Candida yeasts.
- Promotes wound healing by reducing inflammation and local infection, allowing the skin to heal.
- Anti-inflammatory in a range of skin conditions including psoriasis and acne (10% lotion over 2 months reduced lesion counts and resulted in satisfaction of 67% of patients).
- Black seed oil inhibits histamine release in the skin and as such can be used to reduce hypersensitivity reactions.
- A study in hand eczema showed significant improvement in quality of life and severity when Black seed oil ointment was applied twice daily for 4 weeks.
- Cosmetically it also showed benefit when combined with Borage oil, reducing skin irritation and improving skin hydration and barrier function when compared with a placebo.
Some of these studies don’t outline specific topical concentrations and none of the studies compare it to corticosteroids however, the risk profile of Black seed oil is minimal. So overall I think the potential benefit for such a wide range of skin conditions is heartening and assessing individual clinical benefit may be the key until we see more specific research in this area. If you have used Black seed oil to help manage a skin condition, I would love to hear from you – please comment below.
Aljabre, S.H., Alakloby, O.M. and Randhawa, M.A., 2015. Dermatological effects of Nigella sativa. Journal of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery, 19(2), pp.92-98.
Rafati, S., Niakan, M. and Naseri, M., 2014. Anti-microbial effect of Nigella sativa seed extract against staphylococcal skin Infection. Medical journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 28, p.42.
Yousefi, M., Barikbin, B., Kamalinejad, M., Abolhasani, E., Ebadi, A., Younespour, S., Manouchehrian, M. and Hejazi, S., 2013. Comparison of therapeutic effect of topical Nigella with Betamethasone and Eucerin in hand eczema. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 27(12), pp.1498-1504.