Nigella Sativa

Other names Black Seed Oil, Black Cumin Seed Oil, Kalonji Oil, Nigella Sativa L. Seed Extract

Nigella Sativa

Nigella sativa is gaining popularity as a potentially mood-lifting nootropic which may also improve memory and energy levels. But is it effective for these purposes? Read on to find out what the science says.

This nootropic has no healthy human placebo-controlled studies that meet our inclusion criteria. Negative side effects can occur if used carelessly, so make sure you’re aware of the risks of Nigella Sativa.


Read about the effects of Nigella Sativa in relation to the amount of evidence we've found

Can nigella sativa enhance memory, attention, or cognition?

In one study [1], 20 participants received 500mg nigella sativa twice daily, and 20 participants received a placebo for nine weeks.

A total of 15 measures of memory, attention, and cognition were given to the healthy elderly participants for the assessment of cognitive performance before and after nigella sativa or placebo.

Out of these 15 measures, there were significant beneficial effects from nigella sativa compared with placebo on 11 measures of cognitive performance. Specifically, improvements were seen in tests of short-term memory, episodic memory, long-term memory, logical memory, speed of information processing, executive functions, response inhibition, visuospatial abilities, attention, planning, and working memory.

In another study, 24 healthy adolescent participants were given a placebo, and another 24 participants were given 500mg nigella sativa once daily for four weeks [2].

One of the measures of short-term memory showed improvements and all of the measures of long-term memory showed improvements when nigella sativa was compared with placebo.

These results are very promising. Nigella sativa appears to be an effective cognitive enhancer both in healthy elderly and younger participants.

However, it should be kept in mind that the body of research on the cognitive effects of nigella sativa is small, so future research may or may not find opposite results to those observed in the studies that have been conducted so far.

Nigella sativa has also been found to enhance spatial working memory performance in a rat study [3].

Very little data is available on the effects of nigella sativa on cognition, memory, and attention. The data that does exist suggests cognitive-enhancing effects across all aspects of cognitive functioning in healthy people.

Can nigella sativa improve mood and increase exploratory behavior?

In 24 healthy adolescents, 500mg nigella sativa daily for 4 weeks resulted in an improved mood when compared with baseline scores, but not when compared with the placebo control group. Trait anxiety scores were also reduced within the group, but not between the groups, suggesting a possible increase in the tendency for exploratory behavior. Considering that the placebo group experienced similar improvements, no benefits on mood or exploratory behavior can be attributed to nigella sativa based on this study alone.

In a rat study, 4 weeks of nigella sativa oil administration resulted in increased exploratory behavior [4]. In another rat study, a nigella sativa extract increased exploratory behavior after 6 weeks [5]. In a study on the effects of nigella sativa on mice, it was found that it increased exploratory behavior [6].

The authors of one rat study concluded that nigella sativa reduced stress [7], and the authors of a mice study concluded that nigella sativa improved mood and energy levels [8].

All of the studies that we have found on nigella sativa show promising results, but the quality of the evidence is low. Only one small human study and animal studies have been conducted on the affective effects of nigella sativa.

The image science has painted so far of what the true effects of nigella sativa are on exploratory behavior and mood in healthy humans is blurry.


The legality and side effects of Nigella Sativa


Frequently asked questions about Nigella Sativa


Studies conducted on the effects of Nigella Sativa in healthy humans

Last updated Saturday, June 10, 2023