Move over beetroot juice and beta-alanine powder. There’s a new pre-workout supplement in town that has made athletes, fitness aficionados, and recreational exercisers do a double take: black seed oil.
Why the fuss? Black seed oil has been tied to various health benefits. Some of them may even boost your sports performance by supporting your respiratory and immune systems. So we had to take a deeper dive into the topic, and give you the details about black seed oil and the advantages of taking it before exercise.
But first …
What is Black Seed Oil?
Black seed oil is the oil extracted from — you guessed it — black seeds. You may also hear it referred to as Nigella sativa oil or black cumin oil. The fruit of the flowering Nigella sativa plant produces these seeds. While it’s native to Africa and Southwest Asia, it’s also grown in the Mediterranean and similar areas.
Traditional medicine has been using Nigella sativa for thousands of years to relieve conditions such as asthma, cough, fever, dizziness, inflammation, back pain, chest congestion, and chronic headache. It’s even referenced in the religious writings of Christianity and Islam, and mentioned throughout ancient medical texts.
Ancient healthcare practitioners may have been on to something, considering what we know today about the nutritional profile of black seeds — why they’re good for you in general, and specifically when it comes to working out.
Black Seed Oil Nutritional Benefits for Exercise
Black seeds offer a lot of nutritional value: vitamins, minerals, and vegetable protein. Oh, and fiber and healthy fats.
Speaking of protein, black seeds include several amino acids, which are the building blocks of the macronutrient. The amino acids in black seed oil are:
- Methionine. (Methionine may also help break down fats, preventing them from building up on the walls of your arteries)
- Asparate. (Asparates may also increase the absorption of the minerals they’re combined with, and enhance athletic performance)
There’s no shortage of minerals in black seeds, either. They house iron, calcium, copper, phosphorous, and zinc. Athletes, rejoice, because iron is a critical component for sports performance. The mineral is essential for making hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. These cells help carry oxygen to your working muscles as you’re crushing a workout.
B vitamins can also fuel your training, because they help convert the food you eat into cellular energy by breaking down and carrying nutrients throughout your body. You can find vitamins B1, B3, B6, and B9 in black seed oil.
Several plant oils (like black seed) are a source of healthy fat, which give your body energy, and help ensure your cells are working the way they’re supposed to. Specifically, black seeds contain oleic acid, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, including omegas 3, 6, and 7.
The high number of active constituents in black seed oil suggests it may be a great source for supporting several bodily functions. These include digestion, immunity, skin health, allergen response, controlling inflammation, and scavenging free radicals.
One particular active constituent of black seed oil, thymoquinone, has a powerful antioxidant effect. Not only does it preserve several antioxidant enzymes, it targets free radicals itself.
In addition to supporting immunity, inflammation response, and cellular, brain, and skin health, thymoquinone has also been researched and shown to support respiratory and vascular health. Let’s get into that now.
Black Seed Oil Respiratory System Benefits
Breathing and athletic performance are inextricably linked. You really can’t have one without the other. When you’re doing cardio, strength training, or a combination of both, your body requires more oxygen to make energy in order to keep you going. Working out also produces more carbon oxide, which your lungs need to exhale.
Your body helps you meet these workout demands by increasing your breathing rate, so you take in more oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide much faster. So if you can’t breathe effectively, your exercise performance will suffer.
Enter black seed oil: one of its major benefits appears to be respiratory system support.
We’ve already learned black seed oil has been used for respiratory conditions. But that’s not all, folks. The nutrients in Nigella sativa may also help control inflammation in the airways, maintain a healthy mucosal membrane in your lungs and respiratory tract, and a balanced production of histamine to protect you from allergens.
One study published in 2020 examined the effect of black seed oil on patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The results suggest that supplementing with black seed oil may be effective in improving inflammation, lung function, and the oxidant-antioxidant balance within the respiratory tract.
In the 2020 study, participants were supplemented with 1 gram of black seed oil twice a day, for three months. The findings also showed a notable increase in the levels of glutathione, and vitamins C and E, in the body — antioxidants that further support both respiratory health and immune function.
In another study, thymoquinone, along with the constituents thymol, carvacrol and alpha-hederin, may have a bronchodilatory effect in obstructive pulmonary diseases. Bronchdilation makes breathing easier by relaxing the muscles in the lungs and widening the airways (bronchi).
The results of yet another study suggest that eight-week aerobic training, plus Nigella sativa supplementation, improved VO2 max, or the maximum rate of oxygen your body is able to use during exercise.
Black Seed Oil Immune System Benefits
Then there’s the fact our lungs act as filters. They catch pathogens and particles, such as dust and germs, serving as a key organ for immunity.
Remember thymoquinone? Think of it as your immune system’s wingman. In a scientific review published in 2021, studies suggest thymoquinone possesses immunomodulatory and anti-coagulative effects. What this means is thymoquinone helps our immune system to not overreact or under react, but instead respond appropriately to a virus, bacteria, or other foreign invader.
Another study found thymoquinone increased the activity and amount of cytokine suppressors, natural killer cells, and lymphocytes and macrophages (types of white blood cells). Cytokines help regulate the immune response in health and disease.
Black seed oil’s benefit to the immune system is a bonus for anyone who likes to exercise, because you can’t workout effectively — if at all — if you’re sick.
How to Use Black Seed Oil
You can consume black seed oil as a supplement in pill/capsule or liquid form. You can also use the oil topically, by massaging it into your skin.
Ideally, the liquid form of black seed oil should be high quality, free from added ingredients.
The dosage depends on how you’re using the oil. We recommend always checking with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement, and for dosing recommendations.
Side effects from taking black seed oil as a supplement aren’t well documented, and could be different for everyone.
Another factor about black seed oil that individuals may experience differently is its taste. Black seed oil has a strong, slightly bitter and spicy flavor that’s been likened to cumin or oregano. If the taste is too much for you, you can still reap the benefits of black seed oil in the form of black seed oil and elderberry gummies!
Where to Get Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil has been used for thousands of years to address a variety of ailments. Today, people are beginning to use it as a pre-workout supplement, thanks to the many study-backed benefits it provides people who are active, such as immune and respiratory systems support.
Yet, some people may struggle with taking black seed oil as a supplement because they have difficulty swallowing pills or capsules, or dislike the oil’s bitter and spicy taste. If you’re one of these people, good news: you can still reap the benefits of black seed oil in the form of black seed oil and elderberry gummies!
Obsidian Herbal Health produces black seed oil gummies with actives that have been clinically tested for effectiveness. We’ve also added elderberry, which may reduce the length and symptoms of a cold, and make the gummies a lot more palatable.
Notice the difference for yourself as you supplement in a fun way. Check out Black Seed Oil Gummies today.