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Nigella sativa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Nigella
Species: N. sativa
Binomial name
Nigella sativa
L.

Nigella sativa is an annual flowering plant, native to southwest Asia. It grows to 20–30 cm (7.9–12 in) tall, with finely divided, linear (but not thread-like) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually coloured pale blue and white, with 5–10 petals. The fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of 3–7 united follicles, each containing numerous seeds. The seed is used as a spice.

Contents

Etymology

Nigella sativa seed

In English, Nigella sativa seed is variously called fennel flower, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, blackseed, black caraway, or black onion seed. Other names used, sometimes misleadingly, are onion seed' and black sesame, both of which are similar-looking but unrelated. The seeds are frequently referred to as black cumin (as in Bengali: kalo jira, kalo jeera, kali jeera), but this is also used for a different spice, Bunium persicum. The scientific name is a derivative of Latin niger "black".[1]

An older English name gith is now used for the corncockle. In English-speaking countries with large immigrant populations, it is also variously known as kalonji (Hindi कलौंजी kalauṃjī or कलोंजी kaloṃjī), ketzakh Hebrew קצח), chernushka (Russian), çörek otu (Turkish), habbat al-barakah (Arabic حبه البركة ḥabbat al-barakah "seed of blessing") or siyah daneh (Persian سیاه‌دانه siyâh dâne) or كلونجى in urdu. "Karim Jeerakam" in Malayalam.

A commercial pack of kalonji

It is used as part of the spice mixture panch puran[2] and by itself in a great many recipes in Bengali cookery and most recognisably in Naan Bread[3][4] as sold in the 90% of Indian restaurants in the UK which are in fact Bengali owned.[5]

Characteristics

Nigella sativa has a pungent bitter taste and smell. It is used primarily in confectionery and liquors. The variety of naan bread called Peshawari(Pakistan)i naan is as a rule topped with kalonji seeds.

History

According to Zohary and Hopf, archeological evidence about the earliest cultivation of N. sativa "is still scanty", but they report that N. sativa seeds have been found in several sites from ancient Egypt, including Tutankhamun's tomb.[6] Although its exact role in Egyptian culture is unknown, it is known that items entombed with a pharaoh were carefully selected to assist him in the after life.

The earliest written reference to N. sativa is thought to be in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament where the reaping of nigella and wheat is contrasted (Isaiah 28: 25, 27). Easton's Bible dictionary states that the Hebrew word ketsah refers to without doubt to N. sativa (although not all translations are in agreement). According to Zohary and Hopf, N. sativa "was another traditional condiment of the Old World during classical times; and its black seeds were extensively used to flavor food."[6]

History of Medicine

Nigella sativa has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, both as a herb and pressed into oil, in Asia, Middle East, and Africa. It has been traditionally used for a variety of conditions and treatments related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal health, kidney and liver function, circulatory and immune system support, as analgesic, antiinflammatory, antiallergic, antioxidants, anticancer, antiviral and for general well-being.


In Islam, it is regarded as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine available. Prophet Mohammed once stated that the black seed can heal every disease—except death—as recounted in the following hadith:


[Sahih Muslim : Book 26 Kitab As-Salam, Number 5489]

Abu Huraira (Radi Allah Anhu) reported that he heard Allah's Messenger as saying: Nigella seed is a remedy for every disease except death.

Narrated Khalid bin Sa'd :We went out and Ghalib bin Abjar R.A was accompanying us. He fell ill on the way and when we arrived at Medina he was still sick. Ibn Abi 'Atiq came to visit him and said to us, "Treat him with black cumin. Take five or seven seeds and crush them (mix the powder with oil) and drop the resulting mixture into both nostrils, for 'Aisha has narrated to me that she heard the Prophet (sallalhu-alaihewasallam) saying, 'This black cumin is healing for all diseases except As-Sam.' 'Aisha said, 'What is As-Sam?' He said, 'Death.' " (Bukhari)

[Sahih Muslim : Book 26 Kitab As-Salam, Number 5490]

Abu Huraira (Radi Allah Anhu) reported Allah's Messenger as saying: There is no disease for which Nigella seed does not provide remedy.


Avicenna, most famous for his volumes called The Canon of Medicine, refers to nigella as the seed that stimulates the body's energy and helps recovery from fatigue and dispiritedness. It is also included in the list of natural drugs of 'Tibb-e-Nabavi', or "Medicine of the Prophet", according to the tradition "hold onto the use of the black seeds for in it is healing for all diseases except death" (Sahih Bukhari vol. 7 book 71 # 592).

In the Unani Tibb system of medicine, N. sativa is regarded as a valuable remedy for a number of diseases.

The seeds have been traditionally used in the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries to treat ailments including asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism and related inflammatory diseases, to increase milk production in nursing mothers, to promote digestion and to fight parasitic infections. Its oil has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and boils and to treat cold symptoms. Its many uses have earned nigella the Arabic approbation 'Habbatul barakah', meaning the seed of blessing.

Scientific research

Black cumin oil contains nigellone, which protects guinea pigs from histamine-induced bronchial spasms[7] (perhaps explaining its use to relieve the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, and coughing).

The presence of an anti-tumor sterol, beta-sitosterol, lends credence to its traditional use to treat abscesses and tumors of the abdomen, eyes, and liver.[8]

Nigella sativa oil has been reported to be effective in treating opioid dependence.[9]

Nigella sativa also has been reported to reduce calculi formation in rats' kidney. [10]

Thymoquinone and pancreatic cancer treatment

Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have found that thymoquinone, an extract of nigella sativa seed oil, blocked pancreatic cancer cell growth and killed the cells by enhancing the process of programmed cell death, (apoptosis). While the studies are in the early stages, the findings suggest that thymoquinone could eventually have some use as a preventative strategy in patients who have gone through surgery and chemotherapy or in individuals who are at a high risk of developing cancer.[11]

See also

References

External links


Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Nigella sativa

Taxonavigation

Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Ordo: Unassigned Eudicots
Ordo: Ranunculales
Familia: Ranunculaceae
Subfamilia: Ranunculoideae
Tribus: Nigelleae
Genus: Nigella
Sectio: N. sect. Nigella
Species: Nigella sativa
Varietas: N. s. var.  hispidula - N. s. var.  sativa

Name

Nigella sativa L., Sp. Pl., éd. 1 : 534. 1753.

References

  • The International Plant Names Index (2009). Published on the Internet. 2009 Nov 15 [1].

Vernacular names

Français: Nigelle cultivée
Русский: Калинджи или Чернушка посевная
Svenska: Svartkummin
Türkçe: Adi çörek otu
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Nigella sativa on Wikimedia Commons.







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