Kalonji – Nigella Sativa Uses, Side Effects, Research

Kalonji – Nigella sativa – Small fennel, a promising spice against cancer and chemotherapy side effects, useful to lower cholesterol, useful in asthma, diarrhoea, nephrotoxicity (toxins in Kidney) and Hepato toxicity (toxic liver). It is a good anti inflammatory, analgesic, relieves pain, fever and inflammation. 

Botanical Name- Nigella Sativa Linn.

Vernacular names

Names in different languages:
Hindi name- Kalounji, Kalonji
Tamil  & Malayalam  name- Karun Jeeragam
Telugu name- Jeelakarra
English name- Small fennel, Black onion seeds, onion seeds, Kalonji, Black seed, Simple Nigella.
Confusing names such as Black caraway, Black cumin, which is actually Bunium bulbocastanum is also used to indicate this.

Kalonji - Black onion seed and oil

Sanskrit synonyms

Sanskrit Synonyms of Kalonji: 
Kalajaji, Kalika, Karavi, Pruthvi, Pruthvika, Upakunchika, Sushavi, Bashpika, Kunji, Upakunjika

Classical categorisation

Classical categorisation of Nigella sativa:
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Oshadi Varga, Jeerakatraya
Dhanvantari Nighantu – Shatapushpadi Varga

Kalonji plant
Nigella sativa

Chemical constituents

Major chemical constituents of Nigella sativa:
Kalonji seeds contain fixed and essential oils, proteins, alkaloids and saponin.
Nigellin, Essential oil etc. Essen, oil contains Cymine, Nigellone, Carvone, Limonene, Nigellimine.
Thymoquinone is the major chemical component of the essential oil.

Varieties, distribution

There are two herbs used in the name of Black cumin.
Carum bulbocastanum  / Bunium bulbocastanum – Black cumin,  Black caraway
Nigella sativa – small fennel / Simple nigella / Kalonji

There are two herbs used in the name of Black cumin.
Carum bulbocastanum  / Bunium bulbocastanum – Black cumin,  Black caraway
Nigella sativa – small fennel / Simple nigella / Kalonji

Distribution: Found in central Europe, Spain, Portugal. In India, found in Jammu and Kashmir and Nilgiris.

Medicinal properties

Kalonji medicinal Properties:
Guna (qualities) – Rooksha (dryness), Laghu (lightness)
Rasa (taste)- Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
Vipaka- Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion
Veerya- Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha: Pacifies Kapha and Vata Dosha. Increases Pitta.

Part used, dosage

Part used:Seed, seed oil
Dosage: Powder 1-3 gm.
Dosage of Kalonji oil 3 – 5 ml, once or twice a day after food.

How to use?
Seed powder in 1 – 3 grams quantity is mixed along with honey and administered. 

How long to use?
It can be used in 1 – 2 grams daily. For therapeutic purpose, it is usually administered for a period of 2 – 3 months. 

Sanskrit verse

Kalonji benefits

Kalonji Benefits

Rochana – improves taste, appetizer
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Vatahara – Balances Vata, useful in neurological disorders such as paralysis, hemiplegia, neuropathy etc
Daurgandhyanashana – relieves bad breath, bad odour
Pachana – digestive
Pravartati Artavam – Induces menstruation, useful in amenorrhea
Sangrahi – absorbent, bowel binding, useful in IBS, diarrhoea

Medhya – Brain  tonic, improves intelligence
Jwaraghna –useful in fever
Vrushya – aphrodisiac
Chakshushya – useful in improving eye sight
Adhmanahara – relieves bloating
Gulmahara – useful in abdominal tumour
Chardihara –relieves vomiting
Atisarahara – useful in diarrhoea, dysentery
Vatahara – Balances Vata, useful in neurological disorders such as paralysis, hemiplegia, neuropathy etc
Jantughni – useful against intestinal worm infestation
In folklore remedies, Small fennel is used in treating asthma, diarrhoea and high cholesterol levels.
It is useful in nephrotoxicity (toxins in Kidney) and Hepato toxicity (toxic liver)
It is a good anti inflammatory, analgesic, relieves pain, fever and inflammation. Useful in headache, tooth ache, conjunctivitis.
Widely used in Unani system of medicine as well.

Kalonji for hair growth

Kalonji seed powder and carrot juice  together is made into paste and is applied on scalp. It is also taken orally to fight against hair loss.

Kalonji during pregnancy

Due to its excess hotness, it is best to avoid it during pregnancy. If at all, to be used for any specific disease, it should only be used for a very short period of 1 – 2 weeks, in as small a dose as possible (less than 3 grams per day)
Taking it in large quantities, especially after 6th month of pregnancy may cause uterine muscle contraction in the mother, which is not desired.

Kalonji oil

Onion seed oil / Kalonji oil decreases blood pressure and increases respiration, useful against cholesterol. It is also a good anti oxidant.
It is applied externally for the treatment of vitiligo.

Kalonji seed

Use of kalonji seed in PCOS:
Kalonji is useful both in obesity and to fight insulin resistance / diabetes.
Hence, it is very effective in PCOS also. It helps to shorten the lengthy menstrual cycle, which is a common problem with women suffering with PCOS.
Dose can be half a teaspoon per day, with water, at  any time of the day. It can be continued for 2 – 3 months time.

For belly fat

How to take Kalonji powder for belly fat burning?
1 teaspoon of Kalonji powder is mixed with 1 teaspoon of honey. Swallow this paste with a cup of water, at night, after food.
This can be continued for a period of 2-3 months time.

Use after delivery

Use of Kalonji after delivery:
Bhava Prakasha has used the term Garbhashaya Vishuddhi krut to explain use of black onion seeds. It indicates cleansing of uterus.
In South Indian custom, after delivery, A water decoction made with black cumin or Kalonji is administered to the mother from day 2 to day 10. In a dose of 15 ml in the morning, empty stomach. It is done to fight post delivery infection and to strengthen mother’s internal system.

External application

Its paste is applied over male genitals to treat erectile dysfunction.
In toothache, its seed is given for the patient to chew for 3 – 5 minutes.


Anti-cancer activity
Seed extract against hypertension
Cardio-protective activity

Side effects

People with Pitta body type, who cannot tolerate hotness and spiciness may find it difficult to use this spice.
It may cause or worsen gastric burning sensation in people with sensitive stomach or gastritis.
Because it can induce menstruation, it is not ideal for patients with heavy periods, short menstrual cycles.
It is best to avoid this during pregnancy. Can be taken in limited quantities in children and lactating mothers.
Because it can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels,  people with high BP and diabetes medication need to take precaution.
One person reported increase of migraine attack following use of Kalonji. Because Kalonji can increase Pitta dosha and because migraine is also associated with Pitta dosha, migraine patients should exercise precaution while taking Kalonji. Or they can take it along with ghee, if at all needed.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

66 thoughts on “Kalonji – Nigella Sativa Uses, Side Effects, Research”

  1. Prophet Mohamed has said that Kalonji can cure all types of diseases except Death. Cheers!!! :o)

  2. Kalonji and onion seeds resemble same but both come from different plants. Readers should not get confused over this issue.

    • Kalonji seeds have been found in several sites from ancient Egypt, including Tutankhamun’s tomb. Although its exact role in Egyptian culture is unknown, it is known that items entombed with a pharaoh were carefully selected to assist him in the after life.

      The earliest written reference to N. sativa is thought to be in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament where the reaping of nigella and wheat is contrasted (Isaiah 28: 25, 27). Easton’s Bible dictionary states that the Hebrew word ketsah refers to without doubt to N. sativa (although not all translations are in agreement)

      In Islam, it is regarded as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine available. Muhammad (S.A.W.) once stated that the black seed can heal every disease-except death-as recounted in the following hadith:

      [Sahih Muslim: Book 26 Kitab As-Salam, Number 5489]

      It is also included in the list of natural drugs of ‘Tibb-e-Nabavi’, or “Medicine of the Prophet (Muhammad)(S.A.W.)”, according to the tradition “hold onto the use of the black seeds for in it is healing for all diseases except death” (Sahih Bukhari vol. 7 book 71 # 592).

  3. Dr. Kalonji/ black seed oil should be avoided if one has chronic Gastrist ? . Though it seems it will help with hemorides and endro gland thyroid etc?.

    • Its tolerance varies from person to person. Some with even gastritis tolerate it well, some do not. It needs to be tried in low dose for a week to look for any stomach disturbances.

  4. Sir, Kalonji can be used just as an adjuvant and not for the permanent cure of epilepsy. For the cure of Epilepsy consult a ayurvedic physician for treatment.

  5. Good Morning Dr.Hebbar,
    An siddha prepration name Seemai Agathi paste (fungiwin oint) by SKM COMPANY,
    Contains Nigella sativa as 10%of its incredients.
    So it is widely use in Fungal/bacterial infections
    So clarify about how it is useful in skin infections.?
    Its not mentioned, if i am not wrong

    With regards
    Deep Ayurved clinic

  6. Hello. Thank you for the informative article. I have recently purchased Kalonji Oil. I have ulnar nerve neuropathy that makes my hands hurt, tingle and burn. How do I use this oil for my hands?
    (Ps. I also eat 7 kalonji seeds with 1tsp of honey everyday)

  7. Does Kalonji seeds need to be heated before grinding to be effective or just grind the seeds and no need to heat/ roast them before grinding them ?
    Also if taken with food is it still effective .
    Any harm taking 1/2 tsp seed powder daily ?

  8. Dr. In artical mentioned above dose 1-3 gm with honey is seed powder or seed 1-3 gm ? . Is honey use with it must does honey makes it more effective and should take after food with honey ?.
    Lot of talk of taking Oil on the net . If it’s Oil instead of seed podwer how much oil can be taken daily ? After food or away from food also with honey ?
    Which is more effective Oil or seed podwer

  9. Hello sir/ madam
    My father has knee pain problem. So I read somewhere that kalonji with honey is good medicine for knee pain. But my father also has high BP. So please suggest me how much quantity of both kalonji and honey should he take.

  10. Due to its excess hotness, it is best to avoid it during pregnancy. If at all, to be used for any specific disease, it should only be used for a very short period of 1 – 2 weeks, in as small a dose as possible (less than 3 grams per day) 
    Taking it in large quantities, especially after 6th month of pregnancy may cause uterus muscle contraction in the mother, which is not desired

  11. Use very less of kalonji and mustard seeds. Use very thin watery yoghurt. Leave it on hair for only 20-30 minutes.

  12. I have been taking Kalonji Oil for over a month and I have a small rash under my right arm and my right side feels like it is itching on the inside. Am I allergic to the oil? I love the benefits of the oil?

  13. Sir please tell how much kalongi should i take for weight loss?and how many time in a day?

  14. Hi sir for weight loss how do you take that seed does it have to be grind or straight seeds! Please do let me know ! Thanks much appreciate the advice! !

  15. And I am on insulin twice a day and taking glycomet 1 gm for diabetes. Please suggest the Dosage and therapy and duration

  16. Dear Sir, For persistent loose stools, indigestion, acid reflux, what would you suggest? Kaloongi, jeera, coriander, ginger….??? Best regards – Aarti Singh

  17. I just bought the oil because it addresses so many things I’m dealing thinning hair, blood sugar imbalance, Candida infection and more. However after applying it externally on my scalp I feel really uncomfortable as I feel a lot of heat and over stimulation. I immediately applied some coconut oil for it’s cooling properties, but I’m still bothered. Is there anyway I could make this less pitta aggravating? I would really like to get the benefits of this amazing herb.

  18. Dear doctor

    I’m writing this to you for your kind information that the black seed /Kalonji is for all disease except death.

  19. Hello Dr. Hebbar
    I suffer from migraines and have noticed that whenever I eat some vegetable cooked with Kalonji I get a migraine. But there is no such connection mentioned on the internet. Please share your thoughts on this as this would confirm a cause for some of my migraine episodes.
    Thank you

    • Hi, because Kalonji can slightly increase Pitta dosha and because migraine is associated with Pitta, kalonji might not be suited for you.

  20. Hi sir.
    How to consume kalonji seed for belly fat.
    Also to stop longer periods.
    Is kalonji powder and honey helps to stop periods.

  21. Sir I take kalwanji oil at I feel heat in the body and some times burning in the ear and also feel burning in my feet is it to continue

  22. Those with Pitta dosha like me who has eczema, can kalonji be taken with cow’s ghee for good nutritional benefits.


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