Herb: Black Cumin

Latin name: Nigella sativa

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Medicinal use of Black Cumin:

Like many aromatic culinary herbs, the seeds of black cumin are beneficial for the digestive system, soothing stomach pains and spasms and easing wind, bloating and colic. The ripe seed is anthelmintic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, laxative and stimulant. An infusion is used in the treatment of digestive and menstrual disorders, insufficient lactation and bronchial complaints. The seeds are much used in India to increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers and they can also be used to treat intestinal worms, especially in children. Externally, the seed is ground into a powder, mixed with sesame oil and used to treat abscesses, haemorrhoids and orchitis. The powdered seed has been used to remove lice from the hair.

Description of the plant:


35 cm
(1 foot)



Habitat of the herb:

Waste places, arable land and waysides.

Edible parts of Black Cumin:

Seed - raw or cooked. Normally used as a flavouring on bread, cakes, curries, pickles etc. There is a belief that eating the seed will make a woman's breasts plumper. The seed is a very popular spice from the Mediterranean to India. It has a pungent flavour according to one report whilst another says that it has a spicy fruity taste and a third that the scent is somewhat like nutmeg. The immature seed is bitter, but when fully ripe it is aromatic. It is also used as a pepper substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

The aromatic seed contains about 1.5% essential oil. It is placed amongst clothes etc to repel moths. The seeds can also be put in muslin bags and hung near a fire when they will fill the room with their delicious scent. They need to be changed about every three weeks. The seed contains 35% of a fatty oil.

Propagation of Black Cumin:

Seed - sow spring or early autumn in situ. The autumn sowing might not be successful in harsh winters. Plants can be transplanted if necessary.

Cultivation of the herb:

Waste places, arable land and waysides.

Known hazards of Nigella sativa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.