It is often said that when scientists produce a therapeutic regimen for any disease condition, they do so for economic reasons or to make more profits off people’s predicament. Alternative treatment for cancer offered by traditional remedies are time and again cheap, easily accessible, not regarded as industry standard and therefore no commitment to research, development or commercial production of such remedies. Due to poor acceptability, no economic relevance is attached to our traditional remedies for cancer.

black seed

My experience last week motivated me to write this post, I was in a bus returning from Onitcha, a busy commercial hub in the eastern part of Nigeria. This middle-aged man smartly dressed, hopped into the bus and started off with an astute introduction of himself as a traditional medical practitioner.

I wasn’t really interested in anything at the moment, as I was too tired to pay attention to anything other than worry about the dreadful journey I am about to embark on. But due to his eloquent speech, I decided to pay attention and to listen to what he had to sell to the passengers who were mainly traders returning from the famous Onitcha market.

Despite his great presentation, people were not taking what he has to say seriously as they should. He was educating the passenger about a seed he was marketing. He called it ‘’the Miracle seed’’. I was flabbergasted at his level of knowledge and research despite being a petty traditional medicine seller.

It was disheartening to know that these traders didn’t value the information he shared and therefore would not benefit from the wealth of knowledge he retains. Partly due to medicalization of our society or just sheer tiredness after the day’s chopping. Nevertheless, these traders and indeed Africans overtly subscribe to westernized treatment for cancer. While the pharmacologic industry is worth billions of dollars investment globally, millions of life changing products are churned out every day.  However, there is still a huge gap between emerging treatments for cancer and the actual disease burden today in Africa.

Cancer treatment today, despite being so expensive and often requires travelling abroad (India, US or UK) for diagnoses and treatment, the therapeutic risk many at times are not commensurate with the results. Africans end up being used as lab rats for testing unproven therapies. It’s quite discouraging that these patients die after spending so much on medical expenses in the unhealthiest manner.

Traditional medicines and traditional medical practitioners on the other hand, still have a role to play even in today’s Modern Westernize healing industry. These healers often beg for recognition, despite the fact that they are trying to help, they are not given adequate attention. Instead, their strides are welcomed with a wide range of criticism. Their methods are often questioned because they are not scientifically proven or approved.  Mind you, some traditional medical claims are superstitious with no tractable physical evidence or benefits.

Yet there are others with proven efficacies and track records of successful treatment. Take for example a successful attempt at developing a drug for the treatment of sickle cell anaemia by means of a traditional herbal remedy by a Nigerian scientist was considered as a substantial breakthrough in medicine some time ago in the 90s.

Formerly before the discovery of Niprisan there was only one accepted sickle cell drug (Hydroxyurea) that became stocked in mud with multiple concerns about its toxic and carcinogenic side effects on patients.

But even with the commercialization of Niprisan, with an explosive potential market opportunity estimated to worth over $1 billion. This life changing breakthrough for people living with sickle cell anemia has been held up in controversy for over a decade. It has ended up being counterproductive and denying millions of people affected by the scourge of the disorder an opportunity of having a better life.

As Africans if we are to leverage our position in the treatment of illnesses common to us, it is high time we do away of the outdate mid-set that our traditional remedies given to us by nature and knowledge passed down to us by our forefathers made locally available to serve as an alternative, are not scientific and therefore not good enough.

Despite the facts that raw materials for scientific research are mostly gotten from traditional sources. Traditional medical practitioners are often robbed of their discovery and inventions.

For the sake of today’s post, we are going to learn about 18 therapeutic effects of nigella sativa and it’s usefulness in cancer therapeutics.


According to WHO Cancer is one of the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, ‘’approximately 14 million new cases in 2012’’. This alarming number of new cases is predictedable to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades. Cancer has been implicated to be the second leading cause of death universally, being a culprit in over 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.

A great number of people die yearly due to different types of cancer, regardless of remarkable struggles to find a long lasting solution. According to a 2002 WHO survey which estimated cancer incidence for the Sub-Saharan Africa region, ‘’about half a million (530,000) new cases of cancer occurred annually, 251,000 in males and 279,000 in females’’. [7]

In the last century, remarkable improvements were made in modern medical science to cub the menace of the dreaded disease. Yet many types of cancers are not yet curable fully. To further narrow the gap and aim towards finding new and authentic therapies, scientists are working with traditional medical healers to proffer a permanent solution to cancer.

living with hiv in nigeria


The role of alternative treatment for cancer in modern medicine cannot be over emphasized, the practitioners of traditional and indigenous medicine rely mainly upon animal products, medicinal plants; roots and herbs for the preparation of therapeutic remedies.

That being established, modern pharmacology also derives therapeutic properties of several pharmacologic substances from medicinal plants and popular traditional medical remedies. These crude ingredients are further investigated, validated and commercialized for economic purposes.

Yet modern health care systems conditions people from developing countries to question the efficacy of alternative treatment for cancer and create a dilemma. Today countries in Africa are bent on providing a type of health care which cannot be extended to all in need, this further jeopardizes their quest for sustainable health coverage for their citizenry.

These mind-sets have not empowered ways of rethinking and reorientation of the people to accept or offer more inclusive types of medical care and delivery systems that are accessible and inclusive.

Alternative treatment for cancer plays an unarguable role in our society. Thanks to the stars; the World Health Organization gives a backing to the practice of traditional medicine in a bid to complement modern medicine.

African traditional medicine is a compendium of knowledge and practices that has been passed down through ages, and we as Africans should not allow our tradition and ways of life to further decay and consequently go into oblivion.

The promotion and development of African traditional medicine which can be further developed alternative treatment for cancer both foster dignity and self-confidence in communities through self-reliance and sustainability, while considerably reducing the cost of Medicare in the continent. Our integrity and dignity as people largely twigs from self-respect and self-reliance.

The belief, patronage and practice of traditional medicine can foster growth and development in many ways

For further reading

black seed


Nigella Sativa commonly known as Black seed comes from a plant commonly known as Fennel flower. Nigella sativa is an annual flowering plant in the family of Ranunculaceae, native to south and southwest Asia. It’s also found in it abundance in Africa, Nigeria to be specific.


The seed has been used to make medicine for over 2000 years. Historically, black seed has been used for a wide range of therapeutic treatment include; black seed oil for asthma, headache, toothache, nasal congestion, arthritis, and intestinal worms.

It has also been used for “pink eye” (conjunctivitis), systemic infection (abscesses), nigella sativa oil; for hair, black seed oil skincare e.g black seed oil for wrinkles and parasites. The black seed is most commonly used for diabetes, hypertension, weight loss, and many other conditions.

black seed


In today’s post we are only going to focus on nigella sativa cancer therapeutic use. The anticancer activities of nigella sativa have been commended for centuries. The rudimentary oil and thymoquinone (TQ) extracted from the seeds and oil is effective against a wide range of cancerous cells. It efficacy is not limited to the popular types of cancers we know, but any type of malignant or cancerous cells.

Recent studies have shown that the thymoquinone in black seed oil can influence programmed cell death or apoptosis in several types of cancer cell. These include brain cancer,  leukemia, and prostate cancer.

It is worthy of note that, much of the research on the effects of black seed oil on cancer uses other animal cells rather than live humans, so scientists do not know fully how effective the oil may be used to treat people with cancer.


You can find more about this at


Black seed oil contains thymoquinone, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that may also have tumor-reducing properties. Just like any other therapeutic regimen, People can ingest black seed oil in the form of capsules or apply it topically to benefit the skin.

With topical use (on the skin), black seed oil can cause an allergic rash in some people. However, this should not cause a scare, nearly all therapeutic regime cause allergic reactions. Therefore, before using black seed or black seed products, it is vital to test it on a small portion of your skin first to ensure that it does not trigger a reaction.

People must also take care to keep the oil away from the eyes, nostrils, and other sensitive body parts. Especially, away from the reach of children.

Swallowing black seed oil can sometimes lead to digestive problems, such as stomach upsetconstipation, and vomiting. Again, these are common side effect of most medications.

For best results, get the safest and most beneficial black seed, from trusted sources, always choose high-quality, organic black seed that is 100-percent pure, therapeutic grade, and certified for use in your country.

Needless to say, it’s quite safe to use black seed. Even though the molecular mechanisms behind its anticancer role is poorly understood, however, some studies showed that TQ improves body’s defence system, induces apoptosis and controls Akt pathway (The Akt Pathway, or PI3K-Akt Pathway is a signal transduction pathway that promotes survival and growth in response to extracellular signals).


‘It was even discovered in the tomb of King Tut’.3 Jokes apart, black seed is native to south and southwest Asia4. Black seed is also cultivated in commercial quantities in Egypt, Turkey, Asia and the Middle East.

In Nigeria, black seed and black seed products can be gotten almost anywhere, from hawkers in open markets, traffic stops, commercial buses, traditional medicine shops and online stores.


A single dose of 50-100 mg/kg[3] is adequate for prevention of cancer and cancer related tumours. For diabetes: 1 gram of black seed powder has been used twice daily for up to 12 months[3]. For high blood pressure: 0.5-2 grams of black seed powder has been taken daily for up to 12 weeks. [3]


Usually chewed raw, lightly toasted and then ground or used whole to add flavor to bread or curry dishes.  Depending on your choice of preparation or tolerance, others might prefer mixing them with honey or water. They can also be added to oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt etc. Pretty much any method of preparation is applicable.


YORUBA        –  “Aso fe’ye je”

Igbo                –    nkpuru nkpuru

Hausa           –    baƙar fata

Arabic              –      الحبة السوداء


Before the advent of modern medicine, our forefather depended solely on tradition medical healer for their medical need. Even though there are questions bothering on the efficacy of alternative treatment for caner, these remedies used to sustain our ancestors, and they were able to lead a healthful life, some living evening longer than we are today despite the advancement in technology today.

Modern medicine has contributed immensely to global healthcare. Despite the effect of globalization and decay in our culture, we can still find a common ground to sustain and preserve the knowledge and the way of life of our people. For our values and for posterity’s sake, doing this will foster a sense of belonging, dignity and culminate a sense of pride.

Even though black seed seems to offer certain health benefits, the seed alone does not replace medication or other professional medical procedures. If you’re taking other medication you should talk to their doctor or healthcare provider before using herbal supplements, such as black seed.

Your healthcare professional can advise on possible interactions with other medication and also discuss the potential benefits and side effects of the seed. You should be aware that it is important never to stop taking medication without a doctor’s advice.

As with any alternative treatment for cancer or any other traditional medicine, supplement or medication for that matter, pregnant or breastfeeding women should talk to their healthcare provider to see if black seed right for both mother and baby before using it.

Disclaimer: Medical information provided on this blog is solely for educational purposes and in no way serves as a substitute for professional healthcare if you have further questions please contact your health care provider.


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