Nigella sativa and osteoarthritis of the knee

by | Nov 12, 2023 | arthritis and gout, healthy ageing, herbal medicine, pain and pain management

Osteoarthritis is a painful degenerative disorder of the joints. It often affects the knees since these joints are weight-bearing and prone to wear and tear. As an acupuncturist and herbalist, people ask me about arthritic pain, especially osteoarthritis of the knee. I know that the pain of arthritic knees or other joint pain can be disabling. With many people waiting a long time for knee replacement operations. With no option in the meantime but to take prescription painkilling medications. Yet, these medications may cause more harm than good. I have written about this before. See my post Why NSAIDs are not the best solution for your osteoarthritis.

Nigella sativa, also known as love-in-a-mist, is an easily grown, attractive flowering plant. It is popular in gardens due to its pretty white or blue flowers, finely divided foliage, and ornamental seed heads. Many may not realise it has been grown for centuries for its edible seeds. The seeds’ appearance also gives rise to its other common names – black seed, black cumin or black caraway. These hint at their intense and spicy flavour. What’s more, like many aromatic seeds, these have remarkable medicinal properties.

Nigella sativa seeds and their oil are widely used and popular herbal remedies. They appear in several traditional medicine systems, including Ayurvedic medicine. With a documented application for a wide range of diseases and ailments. Especially digestive problems, respiratory disorders, including allergies, and supporting the immune system. Its medicinal properties include diuretic, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, anti-spasmodic and antioxidant.

Whilst topically, the remedy has local anaesthetic and antiseptic properties. With traditional uses externally for rheumatism, headaches and skin conditions.

Tradition is one thing, but we also have recent research. This study suggests Nigella sativa may relieve pain in osteoarthritis of the knee.

The researchers tested the herbal remedy in comparison to oral paracetamol (or acetaminophen). Participants were older people, with osteoarthritis of the knee, in moderate pain.

This particular trial was a crossover clinical trial. In this type of study, participants switch over to the other treatment as part of the trial. Using this method, each participant experiences both treatments.

So participants had either 1ml of Nigella sativa oil applied to the knee joint, with massage, every 8 hours for three weeks. Or, participants took one 325mg tablet of paracetamol at the same intervals. Then after a one month washout period, each participant switched to the other treatment. Each participant graded the pain reduction, if any, of the treatments.

The results show both paracetamol and topical Nigella sativa oil are effective for reducing pain. However, the Nigella sativa oil was more effective for pain relief than paracetamol. The researchers conclude Nigella sativa oil is a safe and effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis. They suggest continuing the application of the herbal remedy for an even longer duration of treatment.

Have you tried Nigella sativa for knee osteoarthritis? Or indeed for any other arthritis? If this herbal remedy helped you, why not let other people know and gain from your experiences by telling them about it in the comments box below.

You might also like my article 8 natural alternatives to NSAIDs


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