Black cumin oil may boost sleep quality, help with stress: Human data

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

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

Related tags Nigella sativa black cumin oil Sleep stress management

Supplementation with a standardized oil from black cumin (Nigella sativa) may significantly improve sleep quality in people with sleep problems, says a new study from India.

Data published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine​ indicated that 200 mg per day of the thymoquinone-rich black cumin oil increase of 29% increase in REM sleep and an 82% increase in Non-REM sleep.

Improvements in measures of stress and anxiety were also recorded by scientists from Akay Natural Ingredients, Mahatma Gandhi University, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, and Cochin University of Science & Technology.

“Significant improvement in sleep quality with a reduction in sleep latency and enhancement in deep sleep duration with an overall reduction in sleep disturbances pointed towards the promising role of BCO [black cumin oil] in sleep-disorders,” ​they wrote. “Further analysis at the end of the study period (28 days) also indicated the significant benefits of BCO as a relaxant with a significant reduction in stress and anxiety severity scores. \

“The beneficial effects of BCO observed in the present study can be mainly attributed to its volatile oil composition, mainly the TQ [thymoquinone] content.”


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 2020 herbal supplement market report from the American Botanical Council (Herbalgram 131, pp. 52-65​), sales of Nigella-containing supplements grew 21.6% in the natural channel, but sales remain relatively small at $6.47 million (#18 on the top selling herbal supplements list in the natural channel for 2020).

Study details

The researchers recruited 15 healthy people with sleep problems to participate in their single-arm, open-label, pilot study. All participants consumed 200 mg of the thymoquinone-rich (5% w/w) black cumin oil (Akay Natural Ingredients) for 28 days.

The results suggested that, in addition to the improvements in sleep efficiency measured as REM and Non-REM sleep, consumption of the black cumin oil also significantly improved the total sleep time and sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), with improvements measurable after only seven days of supplementation. Specifically, sleep latency decreased from an average of 27 minutes at the start of the study to 20 minutes at the end of study.

In addition, significant decreases in measures of anxiety and stress were recorded after 28 days, linked to significant reductions in levels of the stress hormone cortisol

While the results are suggestive of sleep-related improvements, the researchers called for “future studies with black cumin oils containing low levels of TQ (< 0.5 % w/w) are recommended to confirm the role of TQ in the sleep-inducing effect of BCO.”

Source: Journal of Herbal Medicine
Volume 32, March 2022, 100507, doi: 10.1016/j.hermed.2021.100507​ 
“Thymoquinone-rich black cumin oil improves sleep quality, alleviates anxiety/stress on healthy subjects with sleep disturbances– A pilot polysomnography study”
Authors: S. Syam Das et al.

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