BAPP publishes new bulletin on Nigella sativa seed, oil adulteration


The bulletin covers some of the adulterants of Nigella sativa seeds and oil, including seeds from other Nigella species and lower-cost vegetable oils.

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A newly published bulletin provides the botanical industry with an update on current adulteration practices pertaining to nigella (Nigella sativa) seed and oil. The herb is also commonly called black seed or black cumin. The bulletin was published by the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP). It is BAPP’s 26th bulletin and its 75th overall peer-reviewed publication.

The bulletin covers some of the adulterants of Nigella sativa seeds and oil, including seeds of other Nigella species and lower-cost vegetable oils. A BAPP press release describes: “The whole seed is subject to adulteration by the seeds of other species of Nigella, particularly N. damascena, and other lower-cost plant seeds of similar size and color. Nigella seed oil may be adulterated with undisclosed lower-cost oils such as palm (Elaeis guineensis), corn (Zea mays), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), soybean (Glycine max), or canola (Brassica napus) oil. Depending on the source, nigella seed oil is 10 to 30 times more expensive than some of the common vegetable oils, providing a financial motivation for such fraud.”

The health uses of black seed range from addressing inflammation and respiratory conditions to assisting with digestive problems and neurological disorders. The BAPP bulletin also covers analytical methods used to detect adulteration of black seed and its oil.

“Nigella is a relatively little-known but increasingly popular botanical in the Western medicinal herb and dietary supplement industry,” stated Stefan Gafner, PhD, chief science officer of ABC and technical director of BAPP, in the press release. “As more human clinical studies are published to support its health benefits, particularly in the areas of glycemic control, improvement of lipid profiles, and reduction of biomarkers of inflammation, nigella seed oil appears to be destined to become a more important ingredient in the coming years. Due to the relatively high cost of nigella seed oil compared to other vegetable oils, there is a risk that some nigella seed oil in the global market is diluted or outright substituted with some of these lower-cost oils, similar to what has been reported with the popular botanical ingredient saw palmetto.”

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