Black seed Oil and Its Potential as an Anti lymphocytic treatment.
Black seed oil (Nigella sativa) is a 'herb with many pharmacological properties. The active constituent ‘thymoquinone’ (TQ) is thought to have the therapeutic effects and TQ are shown to possess multiple useful effects for the treatment of patients with several diseases, such as inflammatory and auto-immune disorders. It continues to be studied in other areas of medicine due to its potential effects in the setting of metabolic syndrome, its anti-cancer effects as well as its antimicrobial, anti-nociceptive and anti-epileptic properties. There is some evidence that it reduces fibrosis (scarring) in various models of lung scarring, kidney scarring, liver scarring and wound healing.
Whether black seed oil has any benefit in autoimmune scarring alopecias is unknown but warrants further study. In patients with autoimmune and inflammatory issues who do not wish to use more evidence based treatments (which have the best evidence) typically recommend does of 500 mg daily for 2 weeks and then 1000 mg daily after if the patient is tolerating it well.
I continue to follow ongoing studies of black seed oil. It is not possible at present to say that this herb has any benefit in the treatment of any of the autoimmune hair issues I treat. However, there is good reason to continue exploring this area. As just one example, I present a nice 2016 study by Kheirouri and colleagues. The authors reported results from a randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled, 2 months, parallel-group clinical trial of black see oil. Forty-three female patients (20-50 years) with mild to moderate rheumatoid arthritis were recruited and assigned into black seed oil groups (n = 23) and placebo groups (n = 20) groups to receive 1000 mg of black seed oil (500 mg twice daily) capsule or placebo capsule. The disease activity scores of 28 joints (DAS28) were calculated and percentages of CD4(+), CD8(+), and CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells were examined using flow cytometry.
This study showed that treatment with black seed oil resulted in a significant reduction of the serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) level and DAS-28 score and an improved number of swollen joints compared with baseline and study subjects using only the placebo. The treatment also resulted in reduced CD8(+) T cells, and increased the CD4(+)CD25(+) T cell percentage (i.e. the so called beneficial T regulatory cells) and increased the CD4(+)/CD8(+) ratio as compared to placebo and baseline. An increased CD4 to CD8 ratio is felt to be associated with better immune function. The overall conclusion of the study was that black seed oil had the potential to benefit an inflammatory disease through modulating T lymphocytes.
Black seed oil continues to be studied and for good reason. There is evidence that it has potential inflammatory effects and benefits in various auto-immune disorders. Whether it has any effects in patients with autoimmune hair loss is unknown but something that warrants further study.
Kheirouri et al. Immunomodulatory Effect of Nigella sativa Oil on T Lymphocytes in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Immunol Invest. 2016 May;45(4):271-83. doi: 10.3109/08820139.2016.1153649. Epub 2016 Apr 21.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887