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Huile de nigelle et eczéma.

Black seed oil as a treatment for eczema?

A vegetable oil with multiple benefits, the oil extracted from black seed is a versatile cosmetic ally that serves equally in hair and skin care. It is primarily recognised for its moisturising and anti-inflammatory properties, and overall contributes to the good health of the skin. The effects of black seed oil as a skin care treatment make it a popular natural solution in the fight against eczema.

Summary
Published February 12, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

An overview of eczema.

Theeczema is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that progresses in flare-ups. Very common, it is the second most frequent skin disease, behind acne. Eczema results from a particular interaction between genetics and environment, and appears upon exposure to allergens such as dust mites, animal hair or pollens.

Red patches, accompanied by intense itching, can then appear on the face, back, neck, hands, feet, and flexion folds. According to several studies, 50 to 70% of children affected by eczema have a first-degree relative who has also been affected. Those suffering from it generally secrete large amounts of immunoglobulin E, antibodies, in response to environmental antigens.

This atopy is caused by a dysfunction of the skin barrier, due to a lack of sebum, lipid and cell adhesion molecule production, which can no longer fulfil its protective role. Environmental allergens then penetrate the epidermis more easily, causing an inappropriate inflammatory response.

Can black seed oil help combat eczema?

Regarded as a miraculous ingredient during ancient Egypt, thevegetable oil of black cumin is today highly valued in the cosmetic and culinary fields. This ingredient, originating from the Near and Middle East, is extracted from black cumin seeds by first cold pressing. From an organoleptic point of view, black cumin oil presents itself as an orange liquid with a spicy and slightly bitter smell. Anti-inflammatory and soothing, it is highly appreciated by people suffering from skin problems such as eczema.

The benefits of black seed oil were recently evaluated on 19 individuals suffering from hand eczema. Prior to the study, measurements of the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI), on a scale of 0 to 10, and the Hand Eczema Severity Index (HECSI), on a scale of 0 to 360, were taken. The former averaged at 8 and the latter at 40. After applying a cream containing 2% black seed oil twice daily for four weeks, these indices respectively fell to 2 and 10, demonstrating an improvement in the patients' eczema . The black seed oil acted on various levels to provide relief.

  • Nigella oil alleviates redness and itching.

    The thymoquinone found in black seed oil has a anti-inflammatory activity. Indeed, it is capable of inhibiting the production of interleukins-2, 6 and 1β (IL-2, IL-6 and IL-1β), which are pro-inflammatory cytokines. Thymoquinone also inhibits the expression of cyclooxygenase (COX), an enzyme that catalyses the transformation of arachidonic acid into prostaglandin H2. Prostaglandins are compounds that increase inflammation. These various actions of thymoquinone thus help to limit the redness and itching characteristic of eczema.

  • Nigella oil is hydrating and nourishing.

    When suffering from eczema, it is essential to regularly hydrate and nourish the skin in order to strengthen the hydrolipidic film and the skin barrier, both of which are fragile in eczematous skin. Indeed, black seed oil is an ingredient rich in saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, the former forming a protective veil on the skin's surface, similar to the natural hydrolipidic film, and the latter acting as a support for the lipids of the horny layer. The application of black seed oil can thus help to alleviate and partially protect those suffering from eczema.

  • Nigella oil reduces oxidative stress.

    The thymoquinone found in black seed oil possesses antioxidant properties that enable it to protect the skin from the attack of free radicals. These are notably responsible for peroxidative damage to cell membranes and the disruption of the hydrolipidic film, which is already lacking in atopic skin. Moreover, oxidative stress is at the root of an upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, involved in the pathogenesis of eczema. Through an electron donation and by upregulating the activity of certain antioxidant enzymes, thymoquinone neutralises and stabilises these reactive species.

  • Nigella oil promotes the healing of the skin.

    The healing process is crucial in managing atopic dermatitis. Indeed, damaged skin more readily allows bacteria and allergens to penetrate, thereby triggering more inflammatory reactions. Black seed oil has demonstrated its healing potential in a study conducted on injured rats. Indeed, after applying a gel containing 10% black seed oil for a week using a dressing, the average size of the rats' wounds decreased by 40%. Although this study was conducted on rats, a similar mechanism can be assumed in humans, suggesting the healing effects of black seed oil in cases of eczema.

Important Note: black seed oil only represents a supplementary solution to the treatments prescribed by a dermatologist.

Sources

  • HEJAZI S. & al. Comparison of therapeutic effect of topical Nigella with Betamethasone and Eucerin in hand eczema. Journal of the European academy of dermatology and venereology (2012).

  • KIM B. & al. Black Cumin ( Nigella sativa L.): A Comprehensive Review on Phytochemistry, Health Benefits, Molecular Pharmacology, and Safety. Nutrients (2021).

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