What is Kalonji? Health Benefits and Side Effects

Kalonji is quite a common and popular spice which is used in many Indian dishes for a distinct aroma and taste. But this spice also comes with a plethora of health benefits. 

Kalonji is a rich source of fibre. Adding Kalonji to your diet helps in satiating your taste buds for a longer duration. When you add Kalonji in any dish, it increases its nutritional value. Kalonji contains Nigellone, a powerful antioxidant, which helps protect against cancer and other diseases. 

Health experts also recommend Kalonji oil for those who want to use Kalonji to reduce weight.

Read on to know more about its benefits, how to use its seeds for weight loss as well as the side effects you need to be aware of.

Why Use Kalonji? 

1. It’s A Powerful Antioxidant 

Antioxidants are substances that neutralize harmful free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to cells.

Research shows that antioxidants can have a powerful effect on health and disease.

In fact, some studies indicate that antioxidants may protect against several types of chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity (1).

Being a storehouse of antioxidants, Kalonji seeds aid in neutralizing free radicals that can cause different types of cancer. The anti-cancer properties of thymoquinone, carvacrol, t-anethole and 4-terpineol can inactivate cancer cells and work against pancreatic, lung, cervical and breast cancers (2).

A test-tube study found that Kalonji essential oil also acted as an antioxidant (3).

However, further research is needed to determine how the antioxidants found in Kalonji may impact health in humans.

2. It Lowers Cholesterol 

Bad cholesterol or LDL is a major risk factor behind the cardiac disease. Evidence showed that using Kalonji oil significantly brings down the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) while Kalonji seed powder improves HDL or good cholesterol (4).

Another study in more than 50 diabetics showed that supplementing with Kalonji for 12 months decreased total and LDL cholesterol, all while increasing HDL cholesterol (5).

Experts also found that taking at least 2 grams of Kalonji daily for 12 weeks reduced both total and LDL cholesterol (6).

3. It Wards Off Bacteria 

Kalonji oil and seed powder exhibit anti-bacterial properties and can effectively fight certain types of bacteria. 

Topical application of Kalonji oil on the skin of infants with a staphylococcal skin infection was as effective as a standard antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections (7).

It also works against warding off infections caused due to methicillin-resistant bacteria staphylococcus aureus, particularly in diabetics, in a dose dependent manner (8). 

Several other test-tube studies have shown that Kalonji can help inhibit the growth of MRSA, as well as many other strains of bacteria (9, 10).

Human studies are limited and more research is needed to look at how kalonji may affect different strains of bacteria in the body.

4. It Boosts Memory 

Memory loss and cognitive function inability are the problems faced by elderly. Ayurveda recommends consuming Kalonji oil or seed powder along with mint leaves to boost memory and to prevent neurological disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s etc.

Boil a fistful of fresh mint leaves in water and add half spoon of Kalonji oil or seed powder. Consume it daily on an empty stomach for better brain function.

5. It Aids Kidney Function

Ayurvedic practitioners vouch for the benefits of black seed or Kalonji oil in improving kidney health. Regular intake of Kalonji powder along with honey and warm water helps in curing kidney function, prevent kidney stones.

6. It Helps Protect the Liver

The incredible components and compounds in Kalonji save the liver from toxicity by regularizing its functions like metabolism, processing nutrients and minerals that are important for health. 

An animal study showed that Kalonji reduced the toxicity of the chemical and protected against liver and kidney damage (11).

Another evidence had similar findings, showing that kalonji protected rats against induced liver damage, compared to a control group (12).

Experts attribute the protective effects of kalonji to its antioxidant content and ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress (13).

Take Kalonji seeds or oil daily to reduce the toxicity of chemicals and to safeguard the liver.

7. It Controls Blood Sugar Level

The primary function of Kalonji seeds is the prevention of diabetes. According to Ayurveda, these seeds prevent a sudden spike in the levels of blood sugar and can also prevent other symptoms caused due to diabetes like excessive thirst, fatigue and confusion. 

One review of seven studies showed that supplementing with kalonji improved levels of fasting and average blood sugar (14).

Similarly, another study in 94 people found that taking kalonji daily for three months significantly reduced fasting blood sugar, average blood sugar and insulin resistance (15).

Regular intake of Kalonji oil, seeds or supplements not only improves fasting blood sugar but also develops insulin resistance.

Add a quarter spoon of Kalonji oil to a cup of black tea and drink it on an empty stomach to bring down the levels of blood sugar.

8. It Heals Stomach Ulcers 

Stomach ulcers can be quite painful, and these sores eat into the mucus lining of the stomach. 

In one animal study, 20 rats with stomach ulcers were treated using kalonji. Not only did it result in healing effects in about 83% of rats, but it was also nearly as effective as a common medication used to treat stomach ulcers (16).

Researchers reveal that eating black seeds not only reduces stomach ulcers but also protects the stomach lining from the ill-effects of alcohol (17).

Keep in mind that current research is limited to animal studies. Further research is needed to determine how kalonji may affect stomach ulcer development in humans.

9. It Alleviates Inflammation 

Chronic inflammation leads to various health disorders and can interfere with bodily functions. 

In one study in 42 people with rheumatoid arthritis, taking 1,000 mg of kalonji oil daily for eight weeks reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress (18).

In another study, inflammation was induced in the brain and spinal cord of rats. Compared to a placebo, kalonji was effective at protecting against and suppressing inflammation (19).

Thymoquinone, an active compound found in Kalonji helps reduce inflammation in body parts including the pancreas (20). 

Ayurveda recommends the intake of Kalonji oil in moderate amounts daily to decrease inflammation.

10. It Lubricates Joints 

Kalonji oil or seed powder are known for healing joint pains by providing lubrication between the joints. The active compounds in the seed facilitate smooth movements of the bone joints, thus healing inflammation.

If you are suffering from stiffness in the joints, swelling and soreness, mix ½ spoon of Kalonji oil along with equal amounts of honey in 1 cup of vinegar and apply it on the joints twice a day for relief.

11. It Makes Your Teeth Stronger 

Chew on a few Kalonji seeds daily for stronger teeth and gums. These seeds serve as instant remedy if you are suffering from swollen gums, bleeding gums and premature falling of teeth. Alternatively, you can mix ½ teaspoon of Kalonji oil or powder in curd and apply it on the gums, to reduce toothache.

12. It Heals Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids also known as piles cause severe pain in the rectal region and Kalonji serves as an instant remedy in treating it. The laxative properties in the seed add bulk to the stool and treat constipation naturally. 

Take Kalonji seeds along with black tea on an empty stomach to ease bowel movements. Make a mixture of Kalonji oil and vinegar in equal amounts, warm it slightly and apply it on the affected areas for instant relief from pain.

13. It Clears Cracked Heels

There are many reasons that can cause cracked heels. Obesity, poorly fitting footwear, lack of moisture can lead to those ugly and painful cracks on the sole. Rub black seeds powder or oil on the affected area to clear the cracks. You can also mix Kalonji oil with lemon juice and massage on the sole. This mixture not only clears bacteria but also softens the skin.

14. It Improves Vision

According to Ayurveda, Kalonji oil instantly cures eye related problems like eye redness, continuous watering. Being a powerhouse of various vitamins, these seeds also aid in improving vision and also prevent cataract. 

Ayurvedic practitioners recommend drinking ½ tsp of Kalonji oil along with a glass of fresh carrot juice to beat vision problems. However, talk to your doctor before taking Kalonji oil for eye-related problems.

15. It Boosts Energy

Add a spoonful of these black caraway seeds to your daily diet for improving immunity and to provide energy for fighting various infections. Kalonji is a natural immune booster and it is used extensively in various cuisines not only for flavor but also for its quick healing properties. Studies reveal that these tiny seeds boost metabolism and help you get rid of laziness.

16. It’s Good for Your Hair and Skin 

The black seeds or Kalonji, possess more than 100 medicinal properties and exhibit anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiseptic properties. It is loaded with organic acids and is a must-have ingredient in your daily skin and hair care. Kalonji seeds and oil can be used both for skin and hair related problems.

Kalonji for Weight Loss

Kalonji seeds are known to play a significant role in reducing belly fat. If you start using these seeds as a part of your weight loss treatment, the circumference of your waist will get visibly reduced just within a few weeks. The exact mechanisms through which Kalonji promotes weight loss is unclear.

It’s suggested that the active components in Kalonji seeds boost weight loss by affecting the expression of specific genes related to appetite control and fat loss (21, 22).

A review of studies in nearly 800 participants with obesity or overweight found that Kalonji powder and oil reduced body weight by an average of 4.6 pounds and waist circumference by 1.4 inches over 6–12 weeks, compared with a placebo (23).

However, these effects were only significant when participants combined Kalonji with diet and lifestyle modifications, suggesting that the herb supplements alone aren’t effective for weight loss.

Another review of 13 studies with 875 participants showed that Kalonji powder and oil reduced body weight by 4 pounds but had no significant effect on waist circumference over 6–13 weeks, compared with placebo (24).

Thus, while Kalonji is likely ineffective for weight loss on its own, it may aid weight loss when combined with a low calorie diet.

Indeed, one 8-week study found that women combining a low calorie diet with 3 grams of Kalonji oil daily lost 4.6 pounds more and shaved an additional 1.2 inches from their waistline compared with women receiving a low calorie diet and placebo (25).

It should be noted that physical activity levels weren’t assessed in many of the studies, which potentially also influenced the results.

As such, additional high quality research like randomized controlled trials that includes controls for variables like physical activity and diet is necessary to confirm Kalonji’s potential weight loss benefits.

How to Use Kaloji to Slim Down? 

All you need to do is take about four to five seeds, crush them and add the powder to warm water. To this add a spoon of honey and squeeze the juice of half a lemon in the water. While lemon is not essential to the process, it does add significant weight reduction properties to the drink, helping in washing out stored waste from the stomach. It also helps reduce the fat around the belly, making this mixture perfect to get those flat abs you’ve always wanted. Here’s how hot water, lemon and honey can help you lose weight.

You may also mix Kalonji oil and orange juice. Squeeze out the juice of fresh orange into a cup. Add 1 teaspoon of Kalonji oil to it and stir well with a spoon. You need to drink the juice mixture in the morning on an empty stomach. Practicing it every day will give you great outcomes.

Cinnamon can also be a great addition! Prepare a mixture by combining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder with1 tablespoon of pure organic honey. Add it to 2 tablespoons of Kalonji oil and blend well with a spoon. Consume this oil mixture. Then, drink a glass of water to complete the procedure. Ensure that you do not eat anything up to half an hour after this.

Which Is the Best Kalonji Seed Form? 

Kalonji seeds are available in the market in many forms. While the whole Kalonji seeds are more common, you can also find Kalonji seed oil, Kalonji seed tea or Kalonji seed pills. However, it is believed that the oil extract of Kalonji seeds is the most beneficial remedy for weight loss.

What’s the Right Dosage of Kalonji Seeds?

An effective dose of Kalonji for weight loss appears to be 1–3 grams per day of the powder or 3–5 mL of the oil (23, 24). These doses have also been shown effective for heart health and managing blood sugar levels.

There doesn’t appear to be a difference between Kalonji seed powder or oil in terms of weight loss effectiveness.

However, the powder appears to be more effective than the oil for increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, possibly related to the powder’s higher concentration of heart healthy fats (25).

Are There Any Side Effects? 

Kalonji seeds should not be taken along with any blood sugar medications. People taking medications for diabetes or a thyroid problem who wish to try Kalonji should speak with their medical provider first, as it may interfere with the effectiveness of those medications (26). 

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should also consume Kalonji seeds in moderate quantities or not consume it at all in order to stay away from complications. 

Regular intake of too much Kalonji seeds can slow down the clotting process in our body and lead to bleeding disorders (27). You should never take it before, during, and after surgery.

There have been reports of contact dermatitis after applying Kalonji to the skin. If you plan on using it topically, be sure to do a patch test by applying a small amount first to make sure it does not cause an adverse reaction (28).

Mild side effects like stomach aches and nausea have been reported with both the powder and oil supplements (23, 24).

Key Takeaway

The seeds of the Kalonji plant are known for their diverse culinary uses and medicinal properties.

Traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments, Kalonji has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, including weight loss.  However, many of them have only been examined in test-tube or animal studies.

Although more research is needed, adding Kalonji to your diet or using it as a supplement could have a beneficial effect on several aspects of your health.


(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3606739/

(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10925395/

(4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26875640/

(5) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28151458/

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3515953/

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4219874/

(8) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26639493/

(9) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19610522/

(10) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10997492/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068742/

(12) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18777598/

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387231/

(14) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29154069/

(15) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21675032/

(16) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21419021/

(17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4355761/

(18) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884216/

(19) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4525838/

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2742606/

(21) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23777875/

(22) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19061948/

(23) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29559374/

(24) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29857879/

(25) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26029855/

(26) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27852303/

(27) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848930/

(28) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9197967/


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