Black seed oil plus omega-3s may counter obesity-induced inflammation: Mouse data

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Marc Bruxelle
© Getty Images / Marc Bruxelle

Related tags Nigella sativa omega-3

Combining omega-3 fatty acids with a standardized oil from black cumin (Nigella sativa) may significantly reduce inflammation caused by a high-fat (Western) diet, suggests data from a mouse study.

Data published in Antioxidants​ indicated that eight weeks of supplementation with the omega-3 plus black seed oil (ThymoQuin, standardized to 3% thymoquinone, TriNutra) may also enhance the conversion of large unhealthy white to small healthy beige fat cells (adipocytes).

A positive impact on mitochondrial function was also reported for the combination product, report scientists from New York Medical College, Weill Cornell Medicine (New York), New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, the University of Brescia (Italy), and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

“This current study shows the remarkable effect of thymoquinone in combination with the purified form of Omega-3, icosapent ethyl, in the browning of WAT [white adipose tissue],”​ they wrote.

“This combination is very effective in the browning of WAT and is likely safer than anything currently on the market. This novel discovery needs to be confirmed in human clinical trials.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.


The seed and oil of black cumin have been used extensively in traditional medicine in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries for the treatment of a range of conditions, including some immune and inflammatory disorders.

According to the 2018 herbal supplement market report from the American Botanical Council (Herbalgram 123, pp. 62-73​), sales of Nigella-containing supplements grew 21.1% in 2018 in the natural channel, but sales remain relatively small at $5.84 million (#19 on the top selling herbal supplements list for 2018).

Study details

The scientists, led by Professor Nader Abraham from New York Medical College, divided lab mice into five groups: 1) A lean/ control group. 2) A high-fat diet (HFD) control group, 3) HFD-fed mice supplemented with ThymoQuin only, 4) ) HFD-fed mice supplemented with omega-3s only, or 5) HFD-fed mice supplemented with a combination of the black seed oil and omega-3.

After eight weeks, the researchers found that the combination helped to oppose the effects of obesity and markers of insulin resistance by reducing adipocyte hypertrophy-induced inflammation, enhancing AMPK activation, fatty acid metabolism and mitochondrial function as well as reprogramming unhealthy white to healthy beige adipocytes.

According to a 2016 paper in Experimental & Molecular Medicine​, “AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a central regulator of energy homeostasis, which coordinates metabolic pathways and thus balances nutrient supply with energy demand. Because of the favorable physiological outcomes of AMPK activation on metabolism, AMPK has been considered to be an important therapeutic target for controlling human diseases including metabolic syndrome and cancer.”

Prof Abraham and his co-workers concluded: “Our data demonstrate the enhanced browning of WAT from TQ treatment in combination with ω3, which may play an important role in decreasing obesity-associated insulin resistance and in reducing the chronic inflammatory state of obesity.”


Commenting on the new study, Morris Zelkha, CEO of TriNutra, said: “We have long been emphasizing the powerful synergistic benefits of a higher standardization of thymoquinone combined with omega-3 to support a healthy inflammatory response, and this study goes even further to show the extent to which the ingredients are able to work together.

“As we are able to see in the study, our ThymoQuin is unique in its ability to do this and provide significant results.”

ThymoQuin is distributed in the US by Barrington Nutritionals.

Source: Antioxidants
2020, 9(6), 489; doi: 10.3390/antiox9060489
“Cold-Pressed ​Nigella Sativa Oil Standardized to 3% Thymoquinone Potentiates Omega-3 Protection against Obesity-Induced Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Markers of Insulin Resistance Accompanied with Conversion of White to Beige Fat in Mice”
Authors: H.H. Shen et al.

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