The Many Scientifically Researched Benefits of Black Seed Oil

I wanted to write about Black Seed Oil, also known as Black Cumin Seed Oil, since it has been gaining in popularity, though it seems to have a vagueness that surrounds it as to what it actually does.

Most articles on black seed oil seem to say that it’s “cures everything”, a claim that always makes me extremely skeptical since it brings to mind the unscrupulous snake oil salesmen of the last century.

The more I looked into black seed oil, however, I found that there has been study after study done on its benefits, with great results. Research has found it to have beneficial effects on so many different aspects of health, including metabolic syndrome (a condition characterized by excess weight and high blood sugar), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, respiratory health, skin conditions, and more. It’s impressive due to the sheer volume of studies that have been done that have shown benefit for so many vastly different things.

Here’s a link to a review on Black Seed Oil studies.

This is another review on the researched benefits of black cumin seeds.

One of my favorite benefits for black seed oil is its effect on the immune system. One of black seed oil’s natural compounds is thymoquinone, a potent immune booster that strengthens and activates the immune system’s T-cells (the white blood cells that help to identify harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses). Research has shown black seed to have antibacterial and antiviral effects against a number of infectious diseases including strep and h. pylori bacteria and viruses like hepatitis and even HIV. That isn’t to say that black seed oil is necessarily a cure-all for those conditions, but that it has been found to have beneficial antibacterial and antiviral effects against those diseases.

In addition to immune boosting effects, black seed oil has further benefits to the respiratory system itself, including being extremely helpful for asthma patients. In one study, people with asthma used black seed oil daily for three months and experienced impressive benefits in respiratory functioning and a reduction in asthma symptoms.

The interesting thing about black seed oil is that it does not just seem to have immune boosting effects, but rather has shown to have an immune modulating activity- boosting the immune system when needed, but also helping to calm down the excessive immune response seen in autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. One placebo controlled study on rheumatoid arthritis found that women who took black seed twice daily for a month found a reduction in their symptoms of RA.

Black seed oil also appears to have protective effects for a number of the body’s different systems and organs, reducing destructive, toxic effects on the brain, liver, lungs cardiovascular system, and the digestive tract. This article has more in-depth information on the significant protection black seed has from toxic damage from a variety of sources (scroll down to about halfway through to read more about black seed oil’s beneficial protective effects).

Black seed oil can also have beneficial effects on eczema and psoriasis and for those conditions can be taken both internally and used topically for relief.

I feel like I’ve gone on and on already about the benefits of black seed oil, but in truth, there are so many more and I’ve only mentioned a few. Black seed oil has a long history of use for a variety of ailments. It is native to the Middle East and Africa, and has been mentioned in both the Old Testament and the Quran. The prophet Muhammad is even quoted as saying, “Use the Black Seed for indeed, it is a cure for all diseases except death.” Suffice it to say that it has a long history of impressive benefits and use- even back to the time of the Egyptians!

The black seed oil we recommend is by a company called Talya. As many of you know, we’re particular about the brands and products we carry. We chose this brand of black seed oil specifically since it has the highest amount of the beneficial active ingredients in black seed oil and is unrefined and cold pressed. Also, Talya does third party testing on each batch of black seed oil for potency and to make sure that it is free from pesticides, herbicides, as well as other chemicals and contaminants. Talya’s black seed oil meets France’s standards for “Eco Certification” and is in the process of undergoing organic certification processes by the USDA.

The recommended dosages for black seed oil is one teaspoon twice daily for preventative health or two teaspoons twice daily, up to as much as six teaspoons a day (in divided doses) for acute needs or for recovering from an illness.

Black seed oil should be taken with food to help absorption and it’s also important to shake the bottle vigorously before using it, since its beneficial compounds can separate when the bottle sits.

We will have a representative in the store on Saturday, March 9th from 10-2 to offer samples of our Talya black seed oil and to offer further information. Be sure to stop by!


A New Favorite: Carlson's Omega 3 Olive Oil

We have a new product in stock from Carlson that I really wanted to highlight- it’s a premium olive oil with added omega 3’s called Olive Your Heart. As many of you know, omega 3s are absolutely crucial to our health- it’s not called an “essential fatty acid” for nothing!  

Omega 3s are important for both children and adults for their many benefits for brain function (including concentration and focus, reducing the symptoms of depression), heart and cardiovascular health (by reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure), arthritis and more. 

Omega 3s cannot be manufactured in the body and must be obtained through diet. If you or your family members are not eating fatty fish or a good amount of flax and chia seeds multiple times a week, a deficiency in omega 3s are extremely likely.

I love this olive oil by Carlson, because it’s an easy way to boost omega 3s in your diet. Even for people who take vegetarian sources like flax or chia I would recommend it since the omega 3s in flax and chia do not contain EPA or DHA, but rather ALA, which the body then converts to the necessary omega 3 forms, EPA and DHA. The trouble with ALA is that not everyone converts it at the same rate, that there’s really no way of knowing how much EPA and DHA you’re getting. This is especially important for brain and eye health, since it’s primarily DHA that gives those benefits. For more information on the differences in various forms of omega 3s, see our article, All About Omegas, here.

When I first heard about this new “fish oil olive oil” by Carlson, I was skeptical, since who wants a fish flavored olive oil, even if you’re a fan of fish?  Well, we tried the Olive Your Heart olive oil and everyone loved it, there was no fishy taste at all. I’m a vegetarian, so I just smelled it, but let me say this- I am extremely sensitive to the smell of fish, and there was no fishy smell at all.

Even though we’re a vegetarian family, I do give omega 3s from fish oil to my second-grade daughter because the research on omega 3 fish oil, particularly DHA for children’s developing brains, is too important and conclusive. When I gave her a bit of Carlson’s Olive Your Heart on her pasta, she thought it was delicious, and didn’t notice any strange smell or taste. Liz, who works at the store, has also been using this omega 3 olive oil with her family (without advertising the fact that it contained fish oil) and they all think it tastes great.

Fish oil supplements can sometimes be a pain to take, so this is a great tasting alternative to omega 3 softgels. Even for people who regularly take omega 3 supplements, it’s a great way to get an extra boost for your health.

Click on any of the above photos to enlarge.

Supplement Spotlight: Garlic

We’re usually always excited to read about supplements that are new or “hot” at the moment, but I wanted to write instead this month about a supplement that has been around for ages, but none the less, has many benefits that deserve to be reexamined- garlic.

Most of us eat garlic occasionally, and are vaguely aware of its health benefits, but I wanted to write about its many benefits when used as part of a daily supplement regimen.

Garlic for cardiovascular health

One of garlic’s most interesting benefits is for helping to prevent atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of fats and cholesterol (plaque) on the artery walls, which then restricts blood flow. These arterial plaques can then burst, causing blood clots.

Atherosclerosis often happens with age, but it’s definitely something to be avoided! Garlic can prevent these problems by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, but also by inhibiting platelet stickiness.

Garlic supplementation has been found to reduce the size of plaque deposits in animal studies by fifty percent. One double blind human study found that a dosage of 900mg per day of garlic extract “significantly slowed the development of atherosclerosis when measured by an ultrasound”. Another human garlic study measured the flexibility of the aorta (the body’s main artery) in two hundred participants and reported that those who took garlic supplements had more flexibility in their arteries, which indicated a lower rate of atherosclerosis.

Garlic for preventing heart attacks

Garlic also can help to prevent heart attacks. In research, participants who had already suffered a heart attack that used garlic supplements had a reduced risk of a second heart attack, and a fifty percent lower death rate. Garlic works to prevent heart attacks by stimulating a process in the body in which blood clots are dissolved. Because of this action, garlic supplements should not be taken by people using prescription blood thinners without speaking to their doctor.

Garlic and high blood pressure

Benefits for high blood pressure have also been found after taking aged garlic extract supplements. Studies have shown that taking garlic supplements twice a day were able to lower their systolic blood pressure by twelve points.

Garlic for boosting the immune system

Garlic is great for the immune system and works in part by helping to activate the body’s macrophages- a specific type of white blood cell that literally ingests and destroys harmful microorganisms. There have been numerous studies on garlic’s benefit to the immune system, and ability to significantly increase the numbers of germ eating macrophages in the bloodstream.

Garlic for cancer prevention

Garlic can also aid in cancer prevention since it has compounds which stop tumor formation as well as inhibiting the spread of tumors. Garlic has been shown to reduce the occurrence of a variety of cancers, including colon, prostate, and stomach cancer.


Even with all these benefits, however, no one wants to reek of garlic.  Eating too much raw garlic can cause stomach upset and may keep people from wanting to stand too close to you. Thankfully, there are odorless garlic supplements available that can impart the benefits of garlic without your neighbors knowing about it. My favorite garlic supplements are the aged garlic supplements by Kyolic. Aging garlic removes its odor while retaining its health benefits; in fact, aged garlic has been shown to be significantly higher in active beneficial compounds than raw garlic. I take Kyolic garlic on a regular basis, and can absolutely attest to it being odor free.

Berberine: An Amazing New Supplement for Diabetes and High Cholesterol

Q: I’ve read a couple articles recently about the supplement berberine for type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol- two problems I have.  The things I’ve read sound almost too good to be true. I wanted to see if you had information about berberine and diabetes, since I don’t want to buy something that doesn’t really work.

A: Berberine is a little-known supplement that has been gaining popularity for its amazing benefits for diabetics as well as people dealing with high cholesterol.  Berberine has been touted lately as a wonder supplement, but I’m happy to report that the science actually does back up the hype around berberine, especially for diabetics.

Berberine has been the subject of several recent scientific studies for diabetes.  Scientists concluded that taking berberine, at a dose of five hundred milligrams two to three times a day, was shown to be as effective as three different prescription oral diabetes medications for lowering blood sugar.  The researchers reported that berberine had “identical effects in the regulation of blood sugar” when compared to the top diabetes medications for type 2 diabetics.  

In another study in patients with type 2 diabetes, five hundred milligrams twice a day of berberine lowered fasting blood sugar  from just above the range of being classified as diabetes (i.e., 126ml/dL) to normal blood sugar levels (less than 100mg/dL) in most people.

Similar positive results were observed in studies focusing on people with high cholesterol and high triglycerides.  A review of the current studies also determined that berberine was safe to take in conjunction with prescription medications for the above issues, and produced better results than the medications alone.  In one placebo-controlled trial, berberine lowered triglyceride levels by 35.9 percent, LDL cholesterol by 21 percent, and total cholesterol by 18 percent.  The participants in the study that took berberine also experienced lower blood pressure as well as weight and abdominal fat loss.

The accumulating research on berberine is really showing it to be an impressive supplement and one that would be of benefit to many people, particularly those with blood sugar or cholesterol issues.  The recommended dosage is typically five hundred milligrams two to three times a day.  Berberine has also been shown to be well tolerated, and without side effects with the exception of constipation for some people at higher dosages.  For people who do experience constipation after taking berberine in higher dosages usually experience relief if they reduce their dose.

So, to answer your question, yes, the science backs up the many benefits of berberine, and no, it is not too good to be true!  I would recommend the Natural Factors brand of berberine, known as WellBetX Berberine, since it contains the 500 milligram dose used in the above research studies.  Also, since I’m writing about berberine this month, we will be offering the Natural Factors brand berberine on sale for the month of March at the store for 25% off.  If you have type 2 diabetes or issues with high triglycerides, I would very much recommend giving it a try!

Healthy Q & A: Lipitor Raising Blood Sugar Levels and Natural Alternatives for Loweing Cholesterol

Q: Does Lipitor raise blood sugar levels? I have a friend who was prescribed Lipitor for cholesterol. The next time he went to the doctor, they wanted to check his blood sugar levels, and it turned out that out of nowhere his blood sugar levels were out of control! Now the doctor wants to put him on medication for diabetes too! I’ve never heard of this, so I wanted to ask if it was a common thing. Also, my cholesterol is on the higher side, so I wondered if there was anything natural for cholesterol which really worked (I’m a little nervous about the doctor now). Thanks.

A: First, I would say if your friend is unhappy about his physician, he should seek out another one.  There are many physicians who are more open to natural alternatives, Dr. John Principe is one we’d recommend who is based in Palos Heights.

Lipitor is a statin drug which is very commonly prescribed to lower high cholesterol.  It is not without side effects however, including increased blood sugar levels.  It is not as common as muscle pain (the most reported side effect of Lipitor), but is serious enough that the FDA has issued a warning on statin labels about the possible side effects of blood sugar levels and diabetes. Mayo clinic reports that Lipitor may increase blood glucose levels enough that a person may develop type II diabetes as a result of taking the medication.

There are a number of effective natural supplements for lowering cholesterol, which I would definitely recommend for people who have cholesterol problems.  High cholesterol is a serious issue that cannot be ignored since it can dramatically raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.

One popular alternative is red yeast rice.  Red yeast rice actually works in the same way in the body as a statin, but naturally and with fewer side effects.  Since it has the same mechanism as a statin, when supplementing with red yeast rice, it’s important to also supplement with the nutrient CoQ10 since production of that crucial nutrient is blocked by both statins and red yeast rice to a lesser extent (CoQ10 is an important supplement for heart health, as is known for its benefits for heart attack prevention).

The interesting thing about red yeast rice is that unlike Lipitor’s side effect of raising blood sugar, red yeast rice has been demonstrated to actually lower blood sugar, so it’s suitable for diabetics or anyone else with blood sugar issues.

If you’re interested in taking red yeast rice, I would recommend the extended release formula made by Nature’s Plus.  I know numerous people who have taken that specific formula and have had success in lowering their cholesterol levels. By using extended release technology, the body is able to absorb more of the supplement, since it is released slowly over a number of hours instead of all at once.  Red yeast rice should be taken at night for maximum effectiveness.

Another supplement I would very much recommend for lowering cholesterol is Sytrinol.  I like it because it works in an entirely different way than statins, and is free of their side effects.  Sytrinol is a patented extract from citrus fruits.  Studies have shown a 300mg dose to be remarkably effective for high cholesterol.  Research has found that Sytrinol supplementation produced a 30% drop in total cholesterol, 27% in LDL cholesterol, and a 34% drop in triglycerides. In addition, HDL levels increased by 4%, resulting in a significant 29% improvement in the LDL:HDL ratio.  Another study had the following results after just one month: total cholesterol was lowered by 25%, bad LDL cholesterol by 19%, and triglycerides by 24%.

Additionally, Sytrinol helps to prevent oxidation of bad cholesterol and can also aid in reducing arterial inflammation.

For a Sytrinol supplement, I’d recommend the one by NOW Foods.  Is it a two a day formula which combines the researched dose of 300mg of Sytrinol with other nutrients that have shown helpful for lowering cholesterol and promoting liver health.


Healthy Q & A: Help for High Triglycerides

Q:  My husband just got his cholesterol checked for the first time.  His overall cholesterol was normal, but his triglycerides were high.  Do you know of anything to help specifically with triglycerides?

A:  Having elevated triglycerides with normal cholesterol numbers is a common occurrence. High triglycerides are often a sign of eating more than the body needs at one time, and eating too much of the wrong foods- sugars, alcohol, and processed foods are the biggest culprits.  Elevated triglyceride levels can also be caused by certain medications or medical problems like for example diabetes (though it’s likely your doctor would have tested for that).

Lifestyle changes can make a significant change when it comes to lowering cholesterol. Losing weight, even small amounts, can impact triglyceride levels.  Cutting out alcohol, sweets, and refined flours and grains (think anything “white”) will make a big difference.  Exercising for 30 minutes per day has also been conclusively to lower triglycerides.  

There are a number of supplements which can help with elevated triglycerides as well.  The B vitamin niacin has been researched for lowering cholesterol.  One study found that supplementation with niacin lowed LDL cholesterol by approximately 10%, triglycerides by 25%, and raised "good" HDL cholesterol by 15% to 30%.  Niacin causes a “flush” however, which is a temporary warmth and redness of the skin.  This is caused by the effect niacin has to dialate the blood vessels.  The effect usually lasts only 10 minutes or less.  Some people find the flush is lessened when niacin is taken with food.  Another idea is to start with small doses several times a day so your body becomes accustomed to it.

Fish oils, specifically those high in EPA and DHA (the beneficial parts of omega-3 fatty acids) have also been researched to reduce triglycerides and overall cholesterol.  The brand Solgar has a product called Omega 950 which is the highest amount of EPA and DHA per pill available anywhere.  In addition to cholesterol, fish oil also helps with inflammation, mood, and brain function, so everyone would benefit adding some extra fish oil to their supplement regimen.

The supplement Sytrinol can also be helpful for lowering triglycerides.  Sytrinol is a substance derived from citrus fruits.  A recent study found after taking 300mg per day after 12 weeks the non-placebo group had a 30% drop in total cholesterol, 27% in LDL cholesterol, and a 34% drop in triglycerides. In addition, HDL levels increased by 4%, resulting in a significant 29% improvement in the LDL:HDL ratio.  Another study had the following results after just one month: total cholesterol was lowered by 25%, bad LDL cholesterol by 19%, and triglycerides by 24%.

Healthy Q & A: Cholesterol and Red Yeast Rice


I’m trying to avoid taking Lipitor since I know so many people who have experienced side effects.  Is there anything natural that would work in a similar way to lower cholesterol?



Sometimes prescriptions are necessary, but it’s always a good idea to see if you can help yourself naturally first.  Lipitor is a cholesterol lowering medication known as a statin, and there does exist a supplement which is known as a “natural statin”- red yeast rice.  Red yeast rice comes in capsule or tablet form and works very well for lowering cholesterol.  The specific brand that I would recommend is by a company called Nature’s Plus, since they have a red yeast rice that is in an extended release formula, which means that it’s absorbed in the body over a period of hours instead of all at once.

Like prescription statins, red yeast rice should be taken at night before bedtime, since that’s when the body produces the most cholesterol.

If you’re taking prescription statins or red yeast rice, it would be a good idea to supplement with the vitamin CoQ10 as well.  CoQ10 helps to protect the heart and gives the cells the energy they need to function efficiently.  Statins like Lipitor (as well as red yeast rice, since it works like a natural statin) can deplete the body’s stores and production of CoQ10, which can result in muscle pain, one of the most common side effects of statin medications.