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Black Cumin (Nigella Sativa) Seed Oil Extract (BCO-5) May Improve Non-Restorative Sleep (2023 Study)

Sleep is a fundamental aspect of human health, deeply intertwined with our overall well-being.

Recent research examined a unique black cumin extract, BCO-5, and found that it may be beneficial in individuals with non-restorative sleep disorders.


  • BCO-5, a Unique Black Cumin Extract: BCO-5 is a proprietary extract of Nigella sativa (black cumin) showing promising results in improving sleep quality.
  • Evidence-Based Research: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial demonstrated BCO-5’s effectiveness in enhancing sleep parameters.
  • Safe and Well-Tolerated: The study confirmed that BCO-5 is safe, with participants reporting no significant side effects.
  • Potential Natural Sleep Aid: BCO-5’s positive impact on sleep quality suggests its potential as a natural alternative to conventional sleep medications.

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition (2023)

Non-Restorative Sleep & Related Disorders

Non-restorative sleep (NRS) refers to the subjective experience of feeling unrefreshed or unrestored upon waking, despite having an adequate quantity of sleep.

This condition often leaves individuals feeling fatigued and can significantly impair daily functioning.

NRS can exist as a standalone issue or as part of other sleep disorders.

Examples of such disorders include:

  • Insomnia: Characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep and often associated with NRS.
  • Sleep Apnea: A condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, leading to fragmented and non-restorative sleep.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): Causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them, disrupting sleep.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Although not exclusively a sleep disorder, CFS is often accompanied by NRS.

Current Treatments for Non-Restorative Sleep Disorders

Treatment of NRS and associated sleep disorders typically includes a combination of lifestyle changes, behavioral therapies, and medications:

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleep environment, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can be beneficial.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I): This is a structured program that helps individuals identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep.
  • Medications: These may include sleep aids, antidepressants, or drugs specifically targeting the symptoms of conditions like RLS or sleep apnea.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.

Black Cumin Seed Oil Extract for Sleep Enhancement (Mechanisms)

Therapeutic Use

  • Black Cumin Seed Oil Extract: Extracted from Nigella sativa seeds, black cumin seed oil is revered in traditional medicine for its therapeutic properties. It has gained attention for its potential role in improving sleep quality, owing to its unique composition.
  • BCO-5: This specialized formulation of black cumin seed oil is distinguished by its standardized concentration of thymoquinone, a bioactive compound that amplifies the oil’s beneficial effects on sleep.

Safety Profile

  • Black cumin seed oil and formulations like BCO-5 are generally safe for consumption in recommended dosages. However, users should exercise caution and consult healthcare professionals, particularly if they have pre-existing medical conditions or are on other medications.

Mechanisms of Action

  • Anti-Inflammatory Impact: Chronic inflammation is known to disrupt sleep patterns. The anti-inflammatory properties of black cumin seed oil can help alleviate such disturbances, facilitating better sleep quality.
  • Antioxidant Benefits: The oil combats oxidative stress, a factor that can negatively impact sleep. Its antioxidant effects are believed to contribute significantly to enhancing sleep quality.
  • Neurotransmitter Regulation: Black cumin seed oil may exert a positive influence on the sleep-regulating neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are crucial in maintaining the sleep-wake cycle and achieving restful sleep.
  • Influence on HPA Axis: BCO-5, in particular, is thought to modulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This modulation could normalize stress responses, which in turn, may lead to improved sleep quality.

(Related: Black Seed Oil May Reverse Antibiotic-Induced Depression)

Findings from Study of BCO-5: Black Cumin Extract on Sleep (2023)

A study on BCO-5, a proprietary black cumin extract, yielded significant findings in the realm of sleep enhancement.

  1. Improvement in Sleep Efficiency: Participants taking BCO-5 experienced a 7.8% increase in sleep efficiency compared to the placebo group. Sleep efficiency is a critical measure that indicates the percentage of time spent asleep while in bed. A higher sleep efficiency is typically associated with more restorative and uninterrupted sleep.
  2. Increase in Total Sleep Time: The total sleep time for individuals on BCO-5 increased by 19.1%. This is a substantial improvement, suggesting that BCO-5 not only helps individuals fall asleep faster but also aids them in maintaining sleep for longer durations, contributing to better overall sleep quality.
  3. Reduction in Sleep Onset Latency: Sleep onset latency, the time it takes to transition from full wakefulness to sleep, was reduced by 35.4% in the BCO-5 group. This reduction is indicative of BCO-5’s potential to combat difficulties in falling asleep, a common symptom in those with non-restorative sleep disorders.
  4. Decrease in Wake-After-Sleep-Onset (WASO): WASO, which measures the total time spent awake after initially falling asleep, saw a 22.5% reduction. This improvement points to BCO-5’s role in reducing middle-of-the-night awakenings, a key factor in non-restorative sleep.
  5. RSQ-W Scores: The Restorative Sleep Questionnaire-Weekly version (RSQ-W) scores improved by 75.3% from baseline in the BCO-5 group, signifying a substantial enhancement in the participants’ perception of sleep restoration and quality.
  6. Safety & Tolerability: Crucially, the trial underscored the safety of BCO-5, with no significant side effects or toxicities reported, indicating its suitability as a sleep aid for the general population.

BCO-5 (Black Cumin Extract) on Non-Restorative Sleep Disorders (2023 Study)

Mohan et al. evaluated the efficacy of BCO-5, a proprietary black cumin extract, in improving sleep quality among individuals suffering from non-restorative sleep disorder.


  • Design: This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
  • Participants: The study included 70 healthy male and female participants aged 18-65 years, with a BMI of 22-28 Kg/m², characterized by self-reported non-restorative sleep disorder.
  • Intervention: Participants were randomly assigned to either the BCO-5 group or a placebo group, with 35 individuals in each group. The intervention involved a daily supplement of 200 mg of BCO-5 or placebo for seven days.
  • Assessment Tools: Two primary methods were employed for monitoring the impact of BCO-5 on sleep – actigraphy (a non-invasive method of monitoring rest and activity cycles) and the Restorative Sleep Questionnaire-Weekly version (RSQ-W).
  • Data Analysis: The study used intra-group and inter-group analyses of the actigraphy data and the RSQ-W scores to assess the effectiveness of BCO-5.


  • Improvement in Sleep Parameters: Compared to the placebo, BCO-5 significantly improved sleep quality. Key improvements included sleep efficiency (7.8% increase), total sleep time (19.1% increase), sleep onset latency (35.4% reduction), and wake-after-sleep-onset (22.5% reduction).
  • RSQ-W Scores: There was a 75.3% improvement in sleep as per the RSQ-W scores compared to the baseline for the BCO-5 group, and a 68.9% improvement compared to the placebo.
  • Safety & Tolerability: BCO-5 was well-tolerated with no reports of side effects or toxicity.


  • Short Duration: The study spanned only seven days, which may not be sufficient to assess long-term effects and sustainability of the sleep benefits.
  • Lack of Long-term Follow-up: Without a follow-up period, it’s unclear if the effects of BCO-5 are sustained after discontinuation.
  • Specific Population: The study was limited to healthy individuals within a specific age and BMI range, which may not represent the broader population with varied health conditions.
  • No Measurement of Hormonal Levels: The study did not include the measurement of cortisol and melatonin levels, which are crucial in understanding the physiological impact of BCO-5 on sleep patterns.
  • Absence of Washout Period: The study design did not include a washout period, which could have provided clearer insights into the effects of BCO-5 independent of any residual benefits from prior treatments or lifestyle factors.

BCO-5 (Black Cumin Extract) for Sleep (How to Use)

Given its promising results in enhancing sleep quality, BCO-5 could be considered for various applications.

  1. As a Natural Sleep Aid: BCO-5 presents itself as a potential natural alternative for individuals struggling with non-restorative sleep, particularly those seeking to avoid the side effects associated with conventional sleep medications.
  2. Dosage & Administration: The study administered 200 mg of BCO-5 daily for seven days. While this dosage showed efficacy, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized dosage and duration, especially for long-term use.
  3. Safety Considerations: Although BCO-5 was well-tolerated in the study, individual reactions can vary. Monitoring for any adverse reactions when starting the supplement is advised.
  4. Integrating with Sleep Hygiene Practices: For optimal results, BCO-5 should be used in conjunction with good sleep hygiene practices, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and minimizing exposure to screens before bedtime.

Skepticism & Considerations with BCO-5 for Sleep

While the study on BCO-5, the black cumin seed oil extract, showed promising results in improving sleep quality, it is important to consider its limitations and broader implications.

Individual Physiology

The effect of BCO-5 on sleep may not be uniform across all individuals.

Variations in physiology, genetic makeup, and existing health conditions can influence how one responds to the supplement.

In some cases, BCO-5 might not be effective or could potentially disrupt sleep patterns due to individual sensitivities or interactions with other medications or supplements being taken.

Short-Term Study Duration

The trial’s duration was relatively short, spanning only seven days.

This timeframe limits the ability to assess the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of BCO-5’s benefits.

It remains unclear whether the improvements in sleep quality observed during the study would persist over a more extended period or if they were merely transient effects.

Lack of Long-Term Follow-Up

Without a follow-up period after the conclusion of the supplement regimen, the study does not provide insights into potential rebound effects or the duration of the benefits post-treatment.

Long-term studies are necessary to understand if continuous use of BCO-5 is required to maintain its sleep-enhancing effects or if there are any risks associated with prolonged use.

Effect on Different Stages of Sleep

The study did not differentiate between the effects of BCO-5 on various sleep stages, such as REM and non-REM sleep.

These stages play different roles in sleep quality and overall health.

Understanding how BCO-5 influences these distinct stages could provide a more comprehensive view of its impact on sleep architecture.

Potential for Placebo Effect

As with any study involving self-reported outcomes, there is a possibility that some of the observed benefits might be attributed to the placebo effect.

Further research with larger sample sizes and perhaps comparison against other known sleep aids could help clarify the extent of the placebo effect in this context.

Generalizability of Results

The study’s participant pool was relatively small and may not represent the broader population, especially those with specific sleep disorders or chronic health conditions.

Future studies should aim to include a more diverse group of participants to enhance the generalizability of the findings.

Takeaways: BCO-5 (Black Cumin Seed Oil) & Sleep Quality

The study on BCO-5 suggests that this supplement could significantly improve sleep for some individuals – at least over the short-term.

Its significant improvement in key sleep parameters like sleep efficiency, total sleep time, and reduction in sleep onset latency marks it as a promising candidate in the management of non-restorative sleep disorders.

The notable rise in RSQ-W scores further underscores its perceived effectiveness from a user standpoint.

Importantly, its safety profile positions BCO-5 as a viable and potentially superior alternative to conventional sleep medications, particularly for those wary of side effects.

However, as with any supplement, it is crucial to approach its use under medical guidance, especially considering individual health circumstances and the need for personalized dosage.

This study not only highlights the therapeutic potential of BCO-5 but also paves the way for further research in natural sleep aids, potentially revolutionizing the approach to managing sleep-related issues.


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