Kalonji Benefits, Uses, Dosage & Side Effects

Kalonji is a common name of nigella seeds obtained from Nigella sativa plant. It acts as antioxidant, mucolytic, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic. It is also known for its action on the stomach. It improves appetite and releases the intestinal gas. So, it acts as a digestive and carminative agent.

Kalonji benefits include its use in diabetes mellitus, hair growth, osteoarthritis, cancer, liver and kidney disease, asthma and several other conditions. In Ayurveda, it is used for bad breath, productive cough, asthma, skin diseases, hair fall and intermittent fever.

What is Kalonji?

Kalonji is a traditional name for seeds obtained from Nigella sativa plant. It is commonly known as Black Cumin and Nigella Seeds. It belongs to Ranunculaceae (buttercups) family and Nigella L. genus.

Synonyms & Vernacular Names

Common Name Kalonji, Nigella Seeds, Black Seeds, Black Cumin
Botanical Name Nigella Sativa
English Black Cumin, Black caraway
Hindi Kalonji, Kala Jeera, Kalongi
Sanskrit Kalajaji
Also known as Cumin noir, fennel flower, small fennel

Plant Taxonomy

Kingdom Plantae
Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)
Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants)
Super Division Embryophyta
Division TRACHEOPHYTA (Vascular Plants)
Subdivision Spermatophytina (Seed Plants)
Class Magnoliopsida
Super Order Ranunculanae
Order Ranunculales
Family Ranunculaceae (buttercups)
Genus Nigella L.
Species Nigella sativa L. (black cumin)

Medicinal Parts

  • Seeds.
  • Seed Oil.

Edible Parts: Seeds and seed oil are edible parts and used in traditional cuisines. It is also used in pickles as a flavoring agent. It is part of some food recipes in India.

Chemical Composition

Kalonji seeds are rich in oil. Thymoquinone is the primary active constituent in its oil. Due to this constituent, it acts as a broad antimicrobial agent. (1)

Ayurvedic Properties

RASA (Taste) KATU (Pungent), TIKTA (Bitter)
GUNA (Main Quality) LAGHU (Light), RUKSHA (Dry), TIKSHNA (Sharp)
VIRYA (Potency) USHNA (Hot)
VIPAKA (Resultant) KATU (Pungent)
Organs Effect (Primary) Stomach, Lungs, Uterus, Skin
Organs Effect (Secondary) Liver, Kidneys, Hair
Excretion Skin, Breastmilk, and Kidneys

Dosha Karma

Increases Pitta Dosha
Pacifies Vata Dosha
Reduces Kapha Dosha
Suitable Kapha Body Type and Vata Body Type. and Vata Kapha Disorders.
Unsuitable Pitta Body Type and pregnant women
Ama Dosha Effect Prevent and decrease the formation of Ama Dosha.

Kalonji Medicinal Properties

Kalonji has the following medicinal properties:

  • Anti-obesity.
  • Antihyperlipidemic.
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Mild anodyne.
  • Antihalitosis.
  • Digestive.
  • Carminative.
  • Mild astringent.
  • Anthelmintic.
  • Antitussive.
  • Mucolytic.
  • Causes uterine contraction.
  • Galactagogue.
  • Mild diuretic.

Kalonji Indications

Kalonji (nigella seeds) is therapeutically indicated in the following health conditions:

  • Weight loss.
  • Dyslipidaemia.
  • Bad breath.
  • Anorexia.
  • Indigestion (due to kapha dosha).
  • Flatulence.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (kapha and vata dosha).
  • Intestinal worm infestation.
  • Productive cough.
  • Asthma.
  • Dysmenorrhea.
  • Low breastmilk supply.
  • Intermittent fever.

The external application can help in the following diseases:

  • Hair loss.
  • Joint inflammation.
  • Neurological disorders.

Nasal administration helps in:

  • Jaundice.
  • Headache.

Above indications are according to ayurvedic classical literature. The following indications are based on modern research studies:

  • Cancer (as supportive therapy).
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Stomach ulcers (if we think according to ayurveda, it should work fine in patients with excess Kapha Dosha and Ama Dosha).
  • Bacterial infections.
  • Liver disease.

Kalonji Benefits & Uses

From the above indications, we can understand that Kalonji mainly benefits in fat disorders like obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides or dyslipidemia. It mainly acts on stomach, lungs & airways, uterus, skin, hair, liver and kidneys. Because it reduces Kapha Dosha and pacifies Vata Dosha, so it should help in almost all diseases with an increase in kapha and vata dosha related to these organs. Let’s discuss Kalonji Benefits and its uses in detail.

Kalonji for Weight Loss

Now, we will discuss how to use kalonji for weight loss. According to Ayurveda, it acts as Lekhaniya medicine.  Lekhaniya means anti-obesity and antihyperlipidemic. It reduces fats in the body and makes you thin by inch-loss.

The research studies also suggested that kalonji supplementation reduces body weight and body mass index (BMI). One study also concluded it might also reduce waist circumstance while second had not reported any significant effect on waist circumstance. (2, 3)

How to Use Kalonji For Weight Loss

In ayurveda, Kalonji is not a primary herb used for weight loss. It can act as a supportive herb. To get the best results, the patient requires other herbs too. The following formulation provides good results in reducing excess fat and waist circumstance.

Kalonji Seed Powder 100 grams
Shuddha Guggulu 25 grams
Trikatu Powder 12.5 grams

How to Prepare: Mix all ingredients in the above ratio.

How to Take: You can use it in a dosage of 3 grams twice daily. It should give the best results when you take it with warm water and 45 minutes or 2 hours after taking a meal.

Dyslipidemia

Kalonji has potent antihyperlipidemic action. It helps to lower cholesterol and triglycerides level in the blood. It reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL). It also decreases total cholesterol in the blood. (4)

According to ayurveda, excess Kapha diet results in a rise in lipids in the blood and also cause obesity and its complications. Kalonji acts to reduce Kapha Dosha in the body, so it also lowers total cholesterol, triglycerides, and other kapha parameters.

How to Use

You can use the same formulation as described above under weight loss. The same formulation is highly beneficial and useful for restoring a healthy lipid profile.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Ayurveda recommends Kalonji use in bad breath (halitosis). It has antihalitosis action. The antihalitosis properties are attributed to its antibacterial and antimicrobial actions in the mouth. It kills several bacteria and stops their growth, which helps to reduce symptoms of halitosis.

How to Use

For bad breath, take a half teaspoon of kalonji seeds and chew it 2 times a day. You may need to continue it for a month for permanent relief from halitosis.

Anorexia, Indigestion & Flatulence

Due to appetite stimulant, digestive and carminative properties, Kalonji helps in anorexia, indigestion and flatulence.

It improves the secretion of digestive juices and improves liver functions, which ultimately improves appetite in cases of anorexia. The similar mechanism appears in case of indigestion.

It prevents the formation of intestinal gas and aids in releasing the wind. So, it helps in flatulence, abdominal distension and abdominal pain occurring due to gas formation.

How to Use

In these cases, you can chew ½ teaspoon of Kalonji seeds just before eating foods.

Productive cough

Thymoquinone, a primary constituent of Kalonji acts as an antitussive. (5)

In ayurveda, we use Kalonji for its mucolytic and anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces airways’ inflammation and reduces mucus production in the lungs. So, it is beneficial in cases of productive cough related diseases like bronchitis (where bringing up phlegm). According to ayurveda, it is most useful in cases of Kapha type cough.

Due to its broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities, it can also help in upper respiratory tract infections.

Asthma

Kalonji has anti-asthma, antitussive, mucolytic and anti-inflammatory properties. These actions appear straight on the airways and lungs. It reduces inflammation of airways and regulates mucus secretion.

Studies showed Kalonji extract reduces the severity and frequency of wheezing in asthma. (6, 7, 8)

Generally, it is highly useful when asthma accompanies with productive cough, according to ayurveda.

Dysmenorrhea

In folk medicine and ayurveda, Kalonji seeds are used for improving menstrual flow and alleviating menstrual pain. The uterus is one of the primary organs where Kalonji works. The possible mechanism of its anti-dysmenorrhea action is an improvement in menstrual flow, which eases the symptoms. Along with Fennel Seeds (Saunf), it provides good results in alleviating painful periods.

Low breastmilk supply

Like cumin seeds, Kalonji also has galactagogue action. It improves breastmilk supply and reduces breastmilk abnormalities. However, it passes through the breastmilk and might help baby to improve digestion. But in some cases, it can also cause constipation in babies. In such cases, reduce the dosage of Kalonji seeds and take it with an equal amount of cumin seeds and jaggery.

Kalonji Dosage

The classical ayurvedic dosage of Kalonji (Nigella Seeds) is as follows:

Children 15 mg per Kg of body weight
Adults 1000 to 3000 mg
Pregnancy Not Recommended
Lactation 1000 to 3000 mg
Geriatric Dosage 1000 mg
Maximum Possible Dosage 6 grams per day in divided doses

How to Take

Anupan (Adjuvant) In Kapha disorders – Water; in Vata disorders – Milk
Dosage Frequency  Twice daily
Medication Time 2 hours after a meal; before a meal in case of digestive disorders.

Safety Profile

Kalonji is Likely Safe and Well-Tolerated in almost every patient when used within its therapeutic dosage mentioned above. However, it can increase Pitta Dosha, so people with health condition with Pitta aggravation should avoid it.

Side Effects

In cases of people with Pitta health conditions, it can cause the following side effects:

  1. Stomach upset.
  2. Nausea and vomiting.
  3. Heartburn.

Due to its astringent property, it might also lead to constipation in some people.

Toxicity & Allergic Reactions

Some people may have an allergic reaction to Kalonji. The most common symptom of an allergic reaction is skin rashes. If you have any allergic reaction, you should avoid taking it by mouth and skin application.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Ayurveda states Kalonji causes uterine contraction. Therefore, it is LIKELY UNSAFE during pregnancy.

In cases of breastfeeding, Kalonji is traditionally used for increasing breastmilk supply. However, Kalonji active constituents pass through the breastmilk, which might be helpful for babies if they have any digestive problem and abdominal gas. In some babies, it may also cause constipation.

Contraindications

  • Pregnancy.
  • Bleeding disorders: Kalonji might increase the risk of bleeding by slowing blood clotting.
  • 15 days before and after surgery.

Overdose

The overdose of Kalonji seeds leads to constipation and Pitta type disorders.


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