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Topical Black Seed Oil Beats Tylenol For Pain Relief in Osteoarthritis

The tiny black seed strikes again! Even orally administered Tylenol can't compete with the topical application of this potent healing oil to reduce symptoms of one of the most common health complaints of our time. 

Recently, over-the-counter "pain killing" drugs like ibuprofen and Tylenol have been found to have a battery of serious adverse side effects, some even life-threatening. Even aspirin, commonly believed to be a life-saving cardioprotective agent, has come under scrutiny as perhaps doing far more harm than good. Even more astounding is the recent discovery that some of these drugs have soul-numbing properties not unlike psychotropic medications.

Due to the growing concern about both the physical and psychological harms of these pharmaceutical agents, interest in natural, evidence-based alternatives has been exploding. In order to satisfy the demand for scientifically validated alternatives to drugs GreenMedInfo has accumulated hundreds of abstracts on the topic, which can be viewed on our various related database pages, such as Pain, Aspirin Alternatives, and Ibuprofen Alternatives.

Why is Everyone Using NSAIDs and Tylenol?

The reality is that because millions suffer from pain and inflammation on a daily basis, the promise of popping a pill to relieve discomfort is an ever-present temptation. It doesn’t help that the US is one of three countries that permit drug companies and pharmacies are allowed to advertise these medications directly to the consumer through television and other mainstream media channels. 

But is it logical to expect a potent chemical to positively alter symptoms that aren’t caused by a lack of that chemical?  If poor diet, lifestyle, chemical exposures, and a suboptimal mindset are the basis of most chronic health issues, then shouldn’t the focus be on addressing and reversing these underlying variables instead? This would be the goal of so-called “root cause resolution” medicine. Instead, palliative medicine -- where the goal is to suppress symptoms -- is the default approach; but it’s not sustainable and the collateral damage to one’s health is often not worth the risk of the intervention.

When Food (Applied Topically) Is More Powerful Than Pharmaceutical Medicine

A recent clinical trial entitled, “Effect of Topical Application of Nigella Sativa Oil and Oral Acetaminophen on Pain in Elderly with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Crossover Clinical Trial,” compared topical black seed oil with oral Tylenol on pain in elderly osteoarthritis patients.

Study participants were divided into two groups of 10:

  1. One group received 1 milliliter of black seed oil applied on the knee joint 3 times a day every 8 hours for 3 weeks.

  2. One group was given 1 tablet of 325 mg acetaminophen also 3 times a day every 8 hours for 3 weeks.

This study was performed on 40 elderly patients, average age 77, 18 (45%) men and 22 (55%) women.

The criteria for inclusion in the study included the following common symptoms related to knee osteoarthritis:

"Age over 65 years diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis, according to American College Rheumatology diagnostic criteria, included 1) knee pain on most days of the last month; 2) crepitus (joint sound in active motion); 3) morning stiffness less than 30 minutes; and 4) inflation in the examination of the knee bone, respectively (15).”

The promising results of the intervention were reported as follows:

“Study results showed that topical application of Nigella sativa oil and oral acetaminophen reduced pain in elderly with knee osteoarthritis; after using Nigella sativa oil, the reduction of pain was higher (p=0.01).” [emphasis added]

The researchers concluded:

“This study showed that topical use of Nigella sativa oil can be more effective in reducing knee pain in elderly patients than acetaminophen, which is typically used as a safe supplement for the elderly.” [emphasis added]

What Gives Black Seed Its Remarkable Power? 

Unlike pharmaceutical agents which are comprised of either singular chemicals or simple combinations of them, black seed is a complex food which contains a wide range of nutritional and phytochemical components. These all act in concert to produce complex physiological responses in the human body. The study described some of the known constituents of black seed as follows: 

"Nigella sativa oil is composed of 30% by weight of p-cymene, which is the most original composition, and 61.48% of the weight is composed of the volatile oil. Nigella sativa seeds contain fat, vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential amino acids, and carbohydrates (). Nigella sativa seed is a rich source of essential fatty and unsaturated acids. The main unsaturated fatty acids are linoleic acid and oleic acid. There are also other compounds in seeds, such as phospholipids, carotene, calcium, iron, and potassium ()."

One of the reasons why the pharmaceutical industry and mainstream medicine will not invest in food-based solutions for preventing and treating disease is because these common foods and spices do not lend themselves to being easily understandable, nor patentable. We may never know exactly why the relatively infinitely more complex concentrate of a food like black seed oil produces superior effects when compared to drugs like Tylenol.  But knowing how something works should be of secondary importance to the fact that it does work, shouldn't it? 

"Mother Nature's formulas are proprietary, but she does not grant patents." ~ Sayer Ji

The primary reason why we will never see conventional physicians prescribing food as medicine is because the FDA defines anything that "prevents, cures, diagnoses or cures disease" as a "drug," and FDA drug approval can cost up to 11 billion dollars per drug. Can you imagine a walnut company investing that much money in order to prove the obvious: namely, that its product has health benefits? Chemicals, on the other hand, are ideal for this kind of commercialization, even if they almost invariably carry debilitating and deadly side effects.

Closing Comments

This study illustrates the power of natural, food-based alternatives for reducing symptoms in a way that does not produce the risks associated with drug-based interventions. In fact, given that pain killers such as Tylenol actually increase the risk of serious diseases such as asthma, and black seed oil has been shown to reduce asthma, the superiority of black seed oil over conventional drugs like Tylenol may be far more profound than overtly discussed in this study.

For more information on the “side benefits” of black seed oil, please visit our Black Seed database which contains research on over 100 health conditions that it has been studied to have potential therapeutic application in improving. Also, please use our extensive Osteoarthritis database to learn more about natural and/or integrative approaches to treating the condition. 

It should also be noted the highly therapeutic ritual of massaging the oil into the knee may have played a significant role in producing the observed positive outcome. Here is the specific method used:

“In the first stage, for the first group about 1 ml Nigella sativa oil was applied on the knee joint three times a day every 8 hours for 1 week. The massaging method was done with the entire palm in a way that continued for 5 minutes, massaged in a clockwise direction at the front and sides of the knee joint. It should be noted that the Nigella sativa oil used was owned by Barij-e-Kashan; for all subjects, it was maintained away from sunlight and at ambient temperature.”

Consider also that 1 millimeter is only about 1 gram. That's a very small amount of oil. One teaspoon would have about 5 grams, or 5 servings worth of black seed oil. 

Black seed oil is clearly a perfect example of an ancient healing substance which has undergone a modern day Renaissance of scientific validation. As the old world drug-based paradigm of symptom suppression continues to be proven inadequate, especially outside of the emergency  setting (where drugs can sometimes have life-saving applications), interest is growing in evidence-based natural alternatives like black seed. Black seed is only the tip of a massive iceberg of thousands of science-backed natural compounds that could be used to alleviate human suffering. Please use the GreenMedInfo.com Research Dashboard to search over 10,000 health topics and share your findings with friends, family, and practitioners who may be interested in this topic.  

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
Sayer Ji
Founder of GreenMedInfo.com

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