Sunnah Foods: Black Seed
Sunnah Foods: Black Seed
Originally Published in Halal Foodie Magazine, Summer 2014
By Sobia Hussain
Imagine a super food that could heal everything but death. Well, according to authentic Islamic traditions, black seed or Nigella Sativa claims to do just that. Don’t judge this little seed by its size; it has been used as a remedy for thousands of years across various cultures and civilizations. The earliest records of its cultivation and use came from ancient Egypt, and it was even found in the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun from approximately 3,300 years ago. Black seed goes by many names across the globe where it also grows such as Black Cumin (Egypt), Black Caraway (Turkey), Kalonji (Pakistan/India), and Habbatul Baraka translated as “Blessed Seed” (Middle East).
The Prophet (saw) said, “Use the black seed, indeed it is a cure for all diseases except death”
Sahih Al-Bukhari 7:591
This humble seed is truly a blessing to us with its numerous health benefits. We spoke with Dr. Zainab Farahmand ND, a passionate Naturopathic doctor and asked her to share her expertise on this topic. Inspired to help others attain good health and wellbeing was an aspiration for Dr. Zainab since she was young. After studying in University of Toronto, she turned to Naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, finding it very similar to the prophetic medicine found in traditional Islamic teachings. During the interview, we learn the many medicinal benefits of this remarkable black seed and how we can add it to our daily diets.
How can we add black seeds to our diets?
Dr Zainab tells us, “The black seed is very safe when used for culinary purposes as the fats, fiber, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties can be healthy addition to our everyday diets. Adding black seeds to our diets is very easy.
As a Food
If you are into baking, you can top your breads and pastries with the seed or even mix it into the dough itself. Smoothies and Fresh Juice; add black seed into your drinks either whole, crushed or as an oil. Salads and Oatmeal; sprinkle some seeds into your next bowl of salad or oatmeal for a unique and flavourful dish.
Boil the seeds to help break down the tough outer casing which can help extract some of its beneficial components. Remember to chew on the seeds and ingest them after drinking to take full benefit.
If you do not like adding the black seed flavour into foods, you can simply take a spoonful of the seeds and chew on it daily. You can also be consumed in oil form or mixed with honey but be sure it is cold-pressed – chemically extracted oils may destroy its many beneficial properties. The effective dose according to research is about 2 grams of freshly ground seeds or 1-4 grams of seed oil or extract.
Dr. Zainab Farahmand also added, “The black seed was also well tolerated in many of the studies discussed and a common side effect was slight gastrointestinal discomfort in some of the patients. However as with any substances there can be toxic effects with over dosage. Pregnant women should consult a physician before using black seed medicinally as it has been shown to have uterine activity and may potentially induce a miscarriage. Also, studies have not been conducted showing the potential adverse effects in unborn children and many of the constituents could potentially have a fetotoxic effect”.