We would all like to believe we are more special than others but, in reality, few of us are truly exceptional.

One outstanding personality we rarely get to hear about is the famous Persian physician Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna (AD980-1037).

Avicenna was not only a great doctor but excelled in music, mathematics, history, astronomy, physics and philosophy. He wrote more than 200 books, notably the famous Canon Of Medicine which is still one of the most respected medical textbooks of all time.

It was used as standard reading material for medical students up to the 18th Century.

Avicenna was one of the first scholars to make reference to Black Cumin Seed (Nigella Sativa), another of nature's exceptional creat-ions, stating the seed "stimulates the body's energy and helps recovery from fatigue or dispiritedness".

Black Cumin Seed, or Black Seed for short, bears no relation to cumin, the common kitchen herb. Black Seed has been used medicinally for more than 2,000 years, originating in the Middle and Far East, and it was one of the treasures discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamen.

The ancient Egyptians revered the seeds, believing they played an important part in the afterlife of the pharaohs.

There is even a reference to it in the Koran: "Hold on to the use of the Black Seed for in it is healing for every illness except death."

In the West, however, there is surprisingly little knowledge of this extraordinary plant and how it can be used to treat respiratory problems, lowered immunity, allergies, dermatitis and digestive disturbances.

Modern science has recently confirmed the healing properties of the quasi- magical Black Seed: It has a broncho-dilating and antihistamine effect and its potent anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties work on supporting immune defences.

Other active compounds in Black Seed raise interferon production to protect cells against viruses and tumours. Potential future uses include treatment for cancer, AIDS and other diseases.

The oil from Black Seed is a concentrated source of essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. The unique combination of antioxidants and fatty acids may explain why Black Seed is so remarkably effective against such a wide range of complaints. (It is not, however, recommended during pregnancy).

Care should be taken when buying Black Seed Oil as some brands may be mixed with other oils or extracted with heat. Only products labelled as 100 per cent cold-pressed and solvent free should be purchased.

Modern man demands a magic bullet to ease every complaint, viewing his body as the sum of component parts rather than an interrelated system. As a consequence, specialists overspecialise, using tailor-made drugs which all-to-often have undesirable side-effects.

We are no longer accustomed to the multifactorial applications of individual plants, nor is it easy to find gifted doctors like Avicenna who knew exactly how to use them.

For information on Black Cumin Seed, contact Mercy Trading Company on 0208 366 2585 quoting ref: MW1.