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!


Carb Blockers for Weight Loss & Blood Sugar Control


Carb blockers have been around a long time, but I’ve always been kind of skeptical about them. Recently I’ve came across some new research on carb blockers which has made me take another look at them.

Carb blockers are supplements that inhibit the body’s absorption of carbohydrates, so they pass through the body undigested. When those extra carbs are not digested the body does not receive all the calories from that meal.

There is a branded carb blocking extract from white kidney bean called Phase 2, which is an alpha-amylase inhibitor. It’s unique in that it works to slow the digestion of excess starches without affecting the digestion of healthy carbs like those from whole grains and fruits.

Research on that Phase 2 carb blocker has been very positive. In one study of one hundred and twenty three volunteers, participants who took the Phase 2 carb blocker lost an average of seven pounds more than the placebo group over the course of three months. Additionally, 73% of the participants who lost weight with the supplement kept it off for the next six months (the length of time the study followed the participants). Interestingly, the people who took the Phase 2 carb blocker had less food cravings than those used tried dieting alone.

Another benefit of carb blockers goes beyond weight loss. Carb blockers can also be useful for diabetics or people watching their blood sugar. One study gave volunteers four slices of white bread and margarine; half the group received the branded Phase 2 carb blocker. The researchers reported that carbohydrate absorption was inhibited by 66% in the supplement group. The participant’s blood sugar readings also returned to normal after eating faster for those who took the carb blocking supplement.

The research is definitely positive on carb blockers, but for them to be effective, it’s important to pair them with a healthy diet. I think sometimes people think of carb blockers as a free pass to eat junk, but that is not the way that they will help you lose weight.

Another nice thing about carb blockers is that they do not boost metabolism, so they can be taken at night without interfering with sleep, or taken by people with high blood pressure who may not be able to take other weight loss supplements.

When paired with a healthy diet and exercise, carb blockers are supplements that seem to really be able to help! Stop by the store so we can help you to find the product that's right for you!

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!

Managing Diabetes Naturally

Q:  My husband has Type 2 diabetes and I’m interested in checking out some natural ways to lower his blood sugar.  I know there are a lot of things out there, so I wanted to ask what you’d recommend.

A:  The Center for Disease Control has said that currently 8.3% of the American population has diabetes, and that number is expected to rise in the coming years.  While it is important to be under a doctor’s care, there are a number of natural remedies which can help with lowering blood sugar and increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin.  There are many wonderful supplements of benefit to diabetics, but for the sake of space I’ll just list a few below.  

A supplement that many people don’t think of for diabetes is magnesium though there is a growing body of evidence that links magnesium deficiency with Type 2 diabetes and its complications.  A recent Brazilian study scrutinized blood sugar levels in a group of diabetics and found that patients with lower blood glucose levels had higher magnesium levels than those with higher blood sugar levels.   The USDA has determined that 7 out of 10 Americans do not get the recommended amounts of magnesium from diet alone.  Magnesium deficiency has been found to result in a poorer functioning of insulin, which is the body’s main tool for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.  

Chromium is another great supplement for diabetics.  It’s an essential trace mineral that aids in carbohydrate and fat metabolism and also helps cells in the body to properly respond to insulin.  Interestingly, research has found that many diabetics are deficient in chromium.  A review of clinical research studies on chromium and diabetes found significant positive outcomes in nearly every study for blood sugar and diabetes management.  One study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, compared the diabetes medication sulfonylurea taken with 1,000 mcg of chromium to the medication taken with a placebo.  After 6 months, people who did not take chromium had a significant increase in body weight, body fat, and abdominal fat, while people taking the chromium had significant improvements in insulin sensitivity. Those seem like pretty impressive results to me.  I’d really recommend Natural Max’s
Extended Release Chromium Picolinate, it’s a one a day supplement that releases the mineral
throughout the day instead of all at once, which helps to maintain more stable blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon is also a popular for controlling blood sugar levels.  It works by helping to prevent insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance is when cells in the body become resistant to insulin, the substance which helps the body to metabolize foods, especially carbohydrates.  Most of the studies with cinnamon have shown benefits with dosages ranging from 2-6 grams a day.  Supplements of cinnamon capsules are usually at a dose of 500 mg per capsule, so taking 2 cinnamon capsules morning and night, as well as sprinkling cinnamon on your oatmeal or applesauce can be a safe and easy way to improve insulin sensitivity.  Cinnamon is especially nice to take since it has been used for thousands of years in Indian and Chinese medicine.  There have been a number of favorable studies published regarding cinnamon and diabetes, one recently found that cinnamon reduced cholesterol by about eighteen percent and
blood sugar levels by twenty four percent.

Another great supplement for diabetics is the antioxidant alpha lipoic acid.  Alpha lipoic acid works to help prevent and treat diabetic neuropathy, a condition characterized by numbness and pain in the hands and feet that occurs in over twenty percent of diabetics.  Alpha lipoic acid has been used for years in Germany to treat nerve damage and neuropathy and is thankfully becoming more well known in America as an effective supplement for diabetics.  One recent study found that 600mg per day was an effective dosage for helping to relieve pain, burning and numbness in the hands and feet.

Finally, I wanted to mention the importance of diet and exercise in managing Type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise has been shown in study after study to have numerous benefits to everyone, especially diabetics.  Losing weight increases insulin sensitivity, but even exercising without losing weight has been shown to lower blood sugar.    With the beautiful fall weather we’re having, there’s no excuse not to get out in the fresh air and take a walk.  Regular exercise has also been found to boost mood and reduce stress, something everyone can use.  Lake Katherine in Palos Heights has a beautiful walking path around the lake, and there are also many paved walking and bike paths in Palos.  Centennial Park in Orland and the other Centennial Park in Tinley are two other beautiful places to walk.  Making the choice to become more active is one that will help you to both feel better and live longer, and it’s never too late to start. 

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.