Pinyin: not known Latin: Nigella sativa
Black Cumin is an annual growing to 0.35m by 0.2m hardy to zone 0 and is not frost tender. Black Cumin is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) well-drained soils that are acid, neutral and basic (alkaline). Nigella Sativa cannot grow in the shade and requires dry or moist soil.
Edible Parts: Seed. Edible Uses: Condiment.*
Black Cumin Seed is used raw or cooked. Normally used as a flavouring on bread, cakes, curries, pickles etc[4, 9, 74, 100, 183]. There is a belief that eating the seed will make a woman's breasts plumper.*
Black Cumin seed is a very popular spice from the Mediterranean to India with a pungent flavour according to one report whilst another says that it has a spicy fruity taste and a third that the scent is somewhat like nutmeg. The immature seed is bitter, but when fully ripe it is aromatic. It is also used as a pepper substitute.*
Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM) Uses:*
Like many aromatic culinary herbs, the seeds of black cumin are beneficial for the digestive system, soothing stomach pains and spasms and easing wind, bloating and colic. The ripe seed is anthelmintic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, laxative and stimulant[4, 9, 46, 238, 240].*
An infusion of Nigella Sativa is used in the treatment of digestive and menstrual disorders, insufficient lactation and bronchial complaints[9, 238]. The seeds are much used in India to increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers and they can also be used to treat intestinal worms, especially in children. Externally, the seed is ground into a powder, mixed with sesame oil and used to treat abscesses, haemorrhoids and orchitis[238, 240]. The powdered seed has been used to remove lice from the hair.*
The aromatic seed contains about 1.5% essential oil. It is placed amongst clothes etc to repel moths. The seeds can also be put in muslin bags and hung near a fire when they will fill the room with their delicious scent. They need to be changed about every three weeks. The seed contains 35% of a fatty oil[74, 240].
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Source: Black Cumin Seed Nigella sativa Plants For A Future, England 1996-2008.
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