Can black seeds reverse hypothyroidism? I've been reading a lot of research on black seeds (nigella sativa/black cumin) and have been intrigued with some of what I've read. It appears black seeds potentially have many health benefits. While research is ongoing, I want to present the results of a study of black seed powder improving hypothyroidism. In this review, I'll show you the study, the results of the study and my thoughts on what to do if you decide to try this for yourself. I've included a video too if you prefer to just listen to me. So, can black seeds help your thyroid? Let's see what the evidence says.
Other Nigella Sativa Reviews
Here are other reviews I've created on this topic:
Black Seed Thyroid Video
Here's a video I created which summarizes the study. You can watch this if you don't like reading 🙂
Black Seed Hypothyroidism Research
Currently, one study has looked nigella sativa helping people with under-active thyroid glands. The study came from Iran (they do a lot of black seed research) and involved 40 women who had hypothyroidism.
For 8 weeks, the women were randomly given either:
- 2 grams of black seed powder
- 2 grams of corn starch (placeb0)
They took 1 gram of black seed powder before lunch and again before dinner.
Before and after the study, the women were tested for the following things:
- TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone)
- Thyroid hormone levels (T3 and T4)
- Thyroid auto-antibodies
- Body weight, BMI and waste circumference
- Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)
Here's a quick run down about these things and why the researchers tested them:
TSH is the hormone which tells your thyroid to make thyroid hormone. As TSH levels go up, it means we are not making enough. High TSH levels can be a sign of hypothyroidism. The TSH test is often the first thing doctors do when checking if your thyroid is healthy or not.
There are several different thyroid hormones. The researchers tested for 2 of the main types: T3 and T4.
- T3: Triiodothyronine (tri-i-odo-thigh-row-dean)
- T4: thyroxin (thigh-rox-in)
Iodine forms part of both of these thyroid hormones.
Of these hormones, T3 is more powerful. The T4 hormone is converted into T3. Some people reading this may be taking a medicine called levothyroxin. This is the T4 hormone. When you take levothyroxin, your body converts it into the more potent T3 hormone.
Most cases of hypothyroidism in the US (and other industrialized countries) are due to an autoimmune disorder. The body makes antibodies against itself. Why? Good question. For unknown reasons, the body gets stupid and starts to attack itself. In this case, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
Doctors sometimes test for thyroid auto-antibodies when checking for hypothyroidism.
One of the signs of low thyroid hormone levels is you start to gain weight. Sometimes people lose weight when this is deficiency is corrected. So, if black seed powder worked, the researchers wanted to check if it caused people to drop weight.
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)
This substance causes us to make blood vessels. Growing blood vessels is great, but too much might increase the risk of thyroid cancer. Remember cancer needs blood vessels too. The researchers wanted to see if black seeds lowered VEGF levels.
Nesfatin is made in the brain and plays a role in hunger (higher Nesfatin = less hunger) and it also takes part in thyroid health too. Some animal research suggests hypothyroidism is associated with higher nesfatin levels.
Black Seed Thyroid Study Results
OK, after this 8-week investigation, here are the results the researchers saw:
- Significant reduction in thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Significant reduction in thyroid autoantibodies
- Significant increase in thyroid hormone (T3)
- Significant reduction in body weight, BMI and waist circumference
- Significant reduction in VEGF levels
- No change in nesfatin levels
What Do The Results Mean?
From this investigation, women taking 2 grams of black seed powder per day saw an improvement in thyroid health.
Specifically the women:
- made more thyroid hormone (that's good)
- had lower TSH levels (that's good)
- made fewer thyroid auto-antibodies (that's good)
- had less VEGF levels (that's good)
- lost weight (see below for more on this)
All of these findings would seem pretty exciting news for anyone with hypothyroidism. What I found most interesting was the reduction in TSH levels. While normal TSH levels can be a little fuzzy-depending on who you talk to- it's often taken to be between 0.4 and 4.0
The women in the study started out with a TSH level of about 6 (they were hypothyroid).
After the study, they dropped down to a TSH level of 4. A TSH of 4 puts them back into the “normal range.”
As for making more thyroid hormone, the increase wasn't much, but it was deemed significant.
Black Seeds And Weight Loss?
This investigation also noted black seed powder caused the women to lose weight. While this was deemed “significant” from a science perspective, the weight loss wasn't much. Over the course of 8 weeks, the women lost about 3 pounds.
That's about 1.5 pounds per month.
I don't think that's better than other weight loss supplements. I bring this up in case you start to hear claims of black seeds being an effective weight loss supplement. Might it help some? Maybe. Is it a weight loss miracle? I doubt it.
Problems With The Study
As I see it, there were some potential issues that researchers may want to address in the future. The issues include:
- The study only had women. Would men react differently?
- There were only 40 women. While that's not bad, I'd like to see a larger study
- The study was a tad difficult to read at times and understand the findings
- What happens after 8 weeks? Would the results be better 6 months later?
Let's also remember this appears to be the first human study showing positive thyroid benefits. I'd like to see 2-3 additional studies to know for sure if it works.
Black Seed Questions
What Brand Of Black Seed Powder Was Used?
This investigation did not specially mention any particular brand of black seed powder. The study was supported by a grant from Tabriz University in Iran. There was no association with any supplement company.
My guess is all quality brands of black seed powder would work the same way. I'd look for 100% pure ground black seed powder. It doesn't need to contain anything else.
Remember black cumin is another name for black seeds.
Black Seed Powder Side Effects
This study showed no significant side effects. A few people reported itching and nausea but that's all.
If you are taking any medications, speak to your doctor first. A few other things worth considering if you try black seed supplements include
- Stop taking black seeds at least 2 weeks before having surgery
- Speak to your pharmacist if you take any blood thinner medications
- Ask your doctor first if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
Does Black Seed Oil Work Too?
It's possible but, but we'd need clinical proof to know for sure. This study looked at black seed powder. It did not involve the oil of black seeds. Both the oil and powder do contain an antioxidant compound called thyimoquinone (TQ).
The researchers speculated thyimoquinone may have played a role in the results they saw. For what it's worth, I think it's more complicated than this.
Where Can You Buy Black Seed Powder?
Black seeds are becoming very popular. I have seen the powder, seeds, and oil in local health food stores.
Here it is on Amazon
Can Black Seeds Reverse Hypothyroidism?
In a perfect world, I'd like to see 2-3 more human studies before I felt confident in the results. But, given the possibility of getting off thyroid medication, I can understand how you would want to run out and buy black seed powder and test it for yourself.
If this is something you want to test, here are some suggestions:
- Get your TSH, antibodies and T3 levels tested first
- Try black seed powder (any quality brand should work)
- Start with less than 2 grams for the first week. This is to see if you have any side effects.
- After 2-3 months, get another full thyroid test. Did your levels change?
If you decide to try black seed powder to see if it makes you feel any different, tell your doctor you are using this supplement. Your doctor will need to know you are taking this stuff when they evaluate your thyroid health.
So, do black seeds help thyroid glands work better? You tell me. Did it work for you?
Here's Black Seed Powder on Amazon
Al rosen says
Where does black cumin come from? It comes from Iran. Great way to promote a country’s crop? Just create and publish a study that gives it miracle powers! Reminds me of a study from long ago from Cuba that found miracle powers from a substance made from sugar cane that was later found to be ineffective by follow-up studies in non-Cuban, non-sugar cane countries.
So, let’s see follow up studies before we jump on the black cumin bandwagon.
BTW, if you eat 2 grams of black cumin a day, that’s a total of 730 grams a year! Perhaps you can get a good price if you order directly from Iran!
Joe Cannon says
Hi Al, my hunch is it can be found in several countries but if I remember correctly several studies were from Iran. I like to believe science is pure and clean, free from economic incentives. I’ve been told I’m way off base with that kind of thinking…
I also remember seeing a 60 minutes story many years ago about Cuba and shark cartilage preventing cancer. We now know that even sharks get cancer.
Hello, Joe, Thank you for the work you do.
Somehow I missed that black seeds are peppery. Even when sprinkled on my food minimally using a pepper shaker they seem to upset my system and cause vomiting. I may or may not give them another try.
Joe Cannon says
Linda, yes, several people told me black seeds don’t taste too well. I’m sorry to hear that happened to you. There are black seed supplements that may not cause this problem
Here’s a black seed supplement I’ve used. I didn’t have any side effects
I have a bag of black cumin seeds at home. I forget what we used them for but need to find a recipe. I don’t have hypothyroidism but I have had antibodies and thyroid nodules.
Judy, let me know if the black cumin seeds lower your thyroid antibodies. I did a quick search for “black cumin recipes” and saw many pretty tasty dishes you could make 🙂
Diane Gariepy says
I hope you can be of some help as I’ve been trying to purchase a supplement and not having to much joy with it.
The supplement is from Right Size, and is called AppAssure with green tea. By any chance do you know where I can purchase this ?
Hi Diane, when you say Right Size, are you referring to the people who used to make Right Size Smoothies?
Here’s the Right Size Smoothie Review
I did a quick search for AppAssure but didn’t see anything. Are you sure that is the correct name spelling?
Skip Martin says
There are only 2 people in the whole world I listen to when it comes to information like this.
You and Michael Greger,
I’d say you’re both in excellent company.
Wish you would do more videos!
hey Skip, I’m really flattered to be mentioned in the same sentence with Dr. Michael Greger. I loved his book and dedication to nutrition science.
I want to do more videos – and I will be! I’m enjoying making them. How do you watch my videos on youtube or on my website? Do you prefer to watch them or listen to them? Some have said they listen to my videos while they make dinner.
Skip Martim says
I watch them on your site. Maybe a podcast might be an option?
Skip, I’m a big fan of podcasts – Here’s some of my favorite podcasts. I’ve definitely thought about starting one.
Thanks so much for this Joe. Someone just told me black seeds might help my low functioning thyroid. I’m not “hypothyroid” yet. My TSH level has been going up and down for the past year or so.
I may just ask my doctor if its OK for me to try this and see what she says.
Hi Heidi, thanks I’m happy my review helped. Do let me know what your doctor says about black seeds.