Safer Than Acetaminophen and More Effective: Black Seed Oil for Arthritis

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 30 million American adults suffer from osteoarthritis. While the side effects of many prescription drugs have become well known, many people still assume that if a pain reliever is sold over-the-counter that it must be safe. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Acetaminophen, for example, is one of the most wide-used analgesic drugs, but can also cause serious liver damage. But oil from black seed (Nigella sativa) may prove to be a viable alternative.

Used traditionally for generations, black seed oil was said to cure “everything but death.” It is a potent anti-inflammatory and cell protector thanks to one of its key compounds, thymoquinone. For anyone dealing with osteoarthritis pain, black seed oil may be exactly the natural and effective relief they’ve been looking for.

In a clinical study, older individuals with knee osteoarthritis either used a topical application of black seed oil or 325 mg of acetaminophen for three weeks. While both treatments reduced pain, the end of the study period, those using black seed oil reported better pain relief than those using the drug.

Black seed oil is a powerful natural medicine whether used topically or taken internally in supplemental forms. This study shows that the ancient tonic for well-being may become the “go to” relief in the very near future.


Kooshki A, Forouzan R, Rakhshani MH, Mohammadi M. Effect of topical application of Nigella sativa oil and oral acetaminophen on pain in elderly with knee osteoarthritis: a crossover clinical trial. Electron Physician. 2016;8(11):3193-3197.

BACKGROUND: Limited evidence supports Nigella sativa’s role as an effective complementary and alternative medicine and the anti-inflammatory effects of Nigella sativa on patients with allergic rhinitis.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of topical application of Nigella sativa oil and oral acetaminophen on pain in the elderly with knee osteoarthritis residing in a parents’ home in Sabzevar.

METHODS: This study is done as a crossover clinical trial. After obtaining written consent of elderly patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, they were randomly divided into two groups. In step 1, in group 1, 1 cc of Nigella sativa oil was applied on the knee joint every 8 hours for 3 weeks; for the second group, every 8 hours for 3 weeks, patients were given 1 tablet of 325 mg acetaminophen. After a period of 1 month without medication to wash out each group, in step 2, each treatment group received the drug interaction in the same way as above. Pain was determined using a visual scale (VAS) before and after the first and second stages. Treatment response was defined as a decrease in pain scores over 1.5. Data analysis was performed with an R software mixed model.

RESULTS: This study was done on 40 elderly patients: 18 (45%) men and 22 (55%) women. Their mean year and weight were 75.66±8.9 years and 69.67±14.33 kg, respectively. 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).

CONCLUSION: The results of this study showed that topical application of Nigella sativa oil was effective in reducing pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis; therefore, it is recommended as a safe supplement for these elderly.

Link to the study