Drizzling a little honey on your cereal may be a sweet alternative to refined sugar. Adding oil from black seed, also known as nigella, black cumin or black caraway, to your honey may further increase the health benefits. Both honey and black seed have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, although most studies showing these effects have been conducted on animals, not people. While black seed honey provides a sweet treat, don't use it to treat a health condition without your doctor's approval.
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Honey contains numerous polyphenols, plant substances with possible health benefits. Polyphenols found in honey, which include caffeic acid, chrysin, galangin, kaempferol, apigenin and quercetin may have antioxidant properties and restrict cancer cell growth in the laboratory, Indian researchers reported in the July 2009 issue of the "Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology."
Black Seed Benefits
Black seed has a long history of use in Islamic medicine, which uses the black seed as a treatment for numerous disorders, running the gamut from cancer to dizziness, according to the "Islamic Bulletin." Nigella sativa, a flowering plant found throughout Asia, India and Europe produces seeds from which oil is extracted. The oil is mixed with honey to make black seed honey. Black seed oil contains thymoquinon, an antioxidant. Antioxidants can reduce cell damage by destroying free radicals, molecules that destroy cellular DNA.
Combining honey with black seed may provide a weapon against liver disease. A December 2010 study published in "Integrative Cancer Therapies" found that a combination of the two increased levels of antioxidants, which reduced the viability of liver cancer cells in the laboratory. While animal and laboratory studies have benefit, they don't prove that a substance will have a similar effect on people.
Points to Consider
While honey and black seed are both generally safe substances, honey from Rhododendron plants can cause honey intoxication, with possible heart rhythm irregularities, weakness, sweating, convulsions and mild paralysis. Children under age 12 months should not consume any type of honey, as they may contract botulism. Black seed in doses greater than 2 grams per kilogram may cause liver damage, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center warns. Black seed can also affect the way your body absorbs medications by interfering with CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 enzymes, which help break down medications for absorption. The CYP3A4 enzyme metabolizes more than 50 percent of all drugs, according to the July 2009 issue of "Mayo Clinic Proceedings." Ask your doctor before taking black seed in any preparation, including honey.