Today’s post is about metabolic syndrome and lipids, another in our series of blogs for Cholesterol Education Month.
Black cumin (Nigella Sativa) is an annual flowering plant found in southern Europe, southwest Asia and north Africa. The black cumin seeds have long been used as a spice in both Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Written references to black cumin appear in ancient texts, and the Book of Isaiah (28: 25,27) references cumin seeds. Modern research has focused on the pharmacologic properties of black cumin.
A group of researchers in Pakistan recently performed an interesting study in which they looked at black cumin to treat the symptoms of metabolic syndrome (also known as insulin resistance). There are five metabolic risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, these include large waistline, high triglyceride level, low HDL (“good cholesterol”), high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar. Having at least three of these five symptoms is considered to be a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. Recent data estimates from 2011-2012 show that 35% of all U.S. adults and 50% of those 60 years and older meet the criteria of metabolic syndrome. As metabolic syndrome is very often a precursor to diabetes this is a national health issue of first order.
The researchers enrolled 159 subjects into the study, of which there was a black cumin supplemented group, and a non-supplemented group. All subjects were recently diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, and the study included both men and women, ages 25-65 years. All subjects were on a standard treatment regimen for metabolic syndrome, including pharmaceutical medicines such as atenolol, clopidogrel, enalapril, metformin, and simvastatin. In addition the black cumin group took Nigella seeds in a capsule form 250 mg twice daily. The study ran for six weeks.
Several clinical parameters of metabolic syndrome were measured, both at the start of the study and then again at conclusion. These included body mass index (BMI), circumference of the abdomen and hip, body weight, waist-hip ratio, blood pressure, blood glucose, total cholesterol, LDL (“bad cholesterol”), triglycerides, and HDL.
At the conclusion of the six-week trial the clinical parameters were again measured. There were improvements in all parameters, both in the standard treatment group as well as in the black cumin supplemented group, as one would expect. In addition, in the black cumin seed group, there was a statistically significant improvement in fasting blood sugar, LDL and HDL, over the standard treatment (non black cumin seed supplemented) group. To see a statistically significant improvement in just six weeks is profound.
Metabolic syndrome is a serious health issue, not only in the U.S., but world-wide. Proper diet and exercise are a mainstay of treatment, as well as medications. Part of the solution may well be use of ancient or traditional foods, such as black cumin.
(Source- African Journal of Biotechnology, Vol. 11948), June 2012).
This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.