Black currant Oil – Black currant seed oil is a popular health supplement, like fish oil. It is a vegetable oil that people take to deal with disorders of the immune system, hair thinning, and anti-inflammatory. Black currant fruits are delicious and have many health benefits. Similarly, the oil from its seeds is also quite nutritious. It has many medicinal uses.
Black currant seed oil is pressed from the seeds of Black currant fruit. Its biological name is Ribes nigrum. These are black coloured berries that leave a purple colour on the tongue when eaten. Black currants are rich in Vitamin C and are very popular in many parts of the world. They are used to make jams, jellies, flavoured ice creams.
Black currants have been used traditionally in Europe to drive away common cold and flu. Its leaves have been used to treat diarrhoea very effectively. It was also applied for arthritis and respiratory spasms. Most of the health benefits of black currant seed oil derived from the original medicinal uses of the plant. At one point in time, black currants were grown and used to substitute for oranges in the United Kingdom.
Black currant seed oil is generally obtained from its seeds by the cold-pressed method. However, other methods of extraction like solvent extraction and supercritical carbon dioxide are also used. The last two methods do not yield organic oil as they use chemicals for extracting more oil from the seeds. For getting the maximum health benefits, one should go for pure, organic and cold-pressed black currant oil.
Black currant seed oil exerts some therapeutic properties, which make it a healing oil.
- Antioxidant – It protects the cells from free radical-induced damage.
- Anti-inflammatory – Black currant oil is among the powerful anti-inflammatory oils which can be ingested in small amounts.
- Cardioprotective – It exerts a protective effect on the heart and blood vessels.
- Immunostimulant – The herb, berries, and seed oil are good for improving the functioning of the immune system.
- Anti-dermatitis – It treats dermatitis in humans and even canines.
- Anti-rheumatic – Black currant seed oil is among the best anti-rheumatic oils. It reduces the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Anti-Allergic – It reduces the susceptibility of a person to allergies.
- Anti-neuropathic – Gamma-linolenic acid from black currant oil has shown protective effects in diabetic neuropathy.
There may be other possible therapeutic properties of black currant oil like Anti-cancer, Diuretic, Anti-diarrhea and more which should become evident with further research.
Colour, Taste and Aroma
Black currant seed oil, even if it is cold-pressed, is generally refined. This leaves behind a honey-coloured oil with hardly any taste. It is bland and has no odour.
Blends Well With
Black currant seed oil is generally not used in aromatherapy. However, one can play around with this oil and use it as a carrier oil for skin massage.
The black currant seed oil has prominent health benefits, most well-documented and verified by research studies. Most of its health benefits are attributed to a nutrient called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid. It is also found in evening primrose oil, borage seed oil and a few others.
Supplementation with black currant seed oil has been shown to improve the functioning of the immune system by a moderate amount . This effect can take some months to appear. As we age, the production of prostaglandin E 2 in our body increases. This leads to a decline in immune function because of lower T cell function. Black currant seed oil provides our body with gamma-linolenic acid and alpha-linolenic acid ( omega -3 ), which reduces prostaglandin synthesis. As a result, the performance of the immune system boosts up. As a result, regular supplementation with black currant seed oil can help our body deal with pathogens, like infections caused by bacteria, virus and fungi. One can recover faster from flu and cold. It also helps in auto-immune conditions like lupus, eczema and psoriasis.
Black currant seed oil seems to influence the serum lipid profiles of a person. In this study, black currant seed oil supplementation was found to lower LDL cholesterol levels. It also raised HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio, which means that it only lowered LDL cholesterol while not affecting the HDL cholesterol. This shows that black currant oil is quite suitable for cardiovascular health. It can reduce the risk of heart diseases like atherosclerosis.
The black currant seed oil has also been quite effective in preventing cardiac arrhythmia . In this condition, the heartbeats without its normal rhythm because of the lower blood supply to the heart. Black currant seed oil helps to lower the risk of developing this condition. It performs even better than evening primrose oil in this condition, possibly because of higher omega-3 concentration in black currant oil.
Black Currant Seed Oil for Hair Problems
Black currant seed oil helps in many hair problems when taken as a supplement. It combats hair thinning, splitting and curly hair. It should not be used topically on the hair, as that might be damaging to the hair. When taken internally, it provides our body with essential fatty acids, which provide nutrition to the hair follicles. This effect may take a few weeks to show effect.
People who suffer from chronic dry eyes find relief by taking black currant seed oil. This is because low levels of healthy fatty acids can lead to reduced tear production, leading to dry eyes condition.
Just like evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil also helps a lot in premenstrual syndrome. It alleviates symptoms of this condition like mood swings, irritability, depression, insomnia, body pains and weight gain due to fluid retention. The black currant seed oil also helps in menopause during hot flashes and night sweats.
Many people take GLA supplements to help with flare-ups of Acne. In some people, it helps, while in others, it may even worsen the Acne. However, with black currant seed oil, things can be different. It contains high amounts of GLA and ALA ( omega -3 as we know ) because high omega-3 should reduce inflammation and redness on the skin besides reducing acne breakouts.
Black currant seed oil is beneficial in rheumatoid arthritis . It reduces swelling, pain and joint injury in patients who have arthritis. This effect does not come up immediately. Instead, it can take upto 24 weeks for significant relief from the symptoms of arthritis. This oil is also helpful in reducing inflammation that occurs in gout.
Black Currant Seed Oil for Skin
Black currant oil is effective in reducing the severity of atopic dermatitis. It is generally taken internally and not applied topically. With regular use, one would experience the lesions of eczema or psoriasis healing. There is also a reduction in itching or pruritis in the lesions. As a result, the person scratches less, which reduces inflammation in the lesions. This effect is due to healthy fatty acids in black currant oil, like alpha-linolenic acid, gamma-linolenic acid and dihomo- gamma-linolenic acid. Its use also reduces excessive dryness of skin, thus preventing scales and flaking.
Black currant seed oil is most commonly sold as a health supplement. The essential oil from its buds, called Black currant bud, is used to make perfumes and scented products.
Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues
Black currant seed oil should only be taken under its safe dosage value. If taken in excess, it can lead to minor side effects like headaches and upset stomach symptoms like diarrhoea or constipation. Some people may develop an allergy to black currant products. It also has an anti-clotting effect so that it can aggravate bleeding. This oil should not be taken two weeks before and after surgery. One should keep the dosage of black currant seed oil under 1000 mg ( 1 gm ) per day for adults and 500 mg for kids. Although people do take higher amounts, upto 6 gm per day, this can lead to side effects. One should consult th doctor before taking high doses of black currant seed oil. It should not be taken during pregnancy. If you are on medication, consult the doctor about its possible interactions with this oil.
Nutritional and Medicinal Information
Let us look at the nutrition facts of black currant seed oil. It has an impressive amount of omega-3 and gamma-linolenic acid, besides other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The most important nutrients in any oil are fatty acids.
Fatty Acid nutritional profile of Black Currant Seed Oil
100 gm of oil contains :
- About 10 gm Saturated Fats.
- 9 – 13 gm Oleic Acid ( omega-9 ) MUFA ( monounsaturated fatty acid )
- The rest of it is PUFA ( polyunsaturated fatty acids )
|Gamma Linoleic Acid (18:3)||15-20 %||PUFA|
|Stearic Acid (18:0)||1-2 %||Saturated fat|
|Palmitic Acid (16:0)||6-8 %||Saturated fat|
|Palmitoleic Acid (16:1)||– %||MUFA|
|Oleic Acid (18:1)||9-13 %||MUFA|
|Linoleic Acid (18:2)||44-51%||PUFA|
|Alpha Linolenic Acid(18:3)||12-14 %||PUFA|
|Erucic Acid (22:1)||– %||MUFA|
|Gondoic Acid (20:1)||– %||MUFA|
|Behenic Acid (22:0)||–||Saturated fat|
|Arachidic Acid (20:0)||– %||Saturated fat|
The black currant seed oil contains about 15 – 20 gm of gamma linoleic acid and about 12 – 14 gm of alpha-linoleic acid ( omega -3 ). These two nutrients are strongly anti-inflammatory and impart the most health benefits. Linoleic acid is omega – 6, and it is the principal fatty acid in this oil. Omega-6 is about 44 – 51 %. This fatty acid is pro-inflammatory. Therefore, intake of a higher amount of black currant seed oil may aggravate inflammation in the body, whereas it is strongly anti-inflammatory when taken in a small amount. In most commercial black currant seed oil, the gamma-linolenic acid concentration is increased using refinement.
Vitamin E in Black Currant Seed Oil
This oil has a significant amount of Vitamin E. However, it is disproportionately divided among tocopherols and tocotrienols. Most Vitamin E in black currant seed oil is found only in tocopherol forms .
- α – Tocopherol – 36.9 g/kg
- γ – Tocopherol – 55.4 g/kg
- δ – Tocopherol – 6.9 g/kg
The presence of Vitamin E provides the health benefits of this Vitamin. Black currant seed oil thus acts as an antioxidant. It protects the nerves from damage and safeguards gene expression, which are all functions of Vitamin E.
Sterols in Black Currant Seed Oil
This oil also contains small amounts of plant sterol compounds, also known as phytosterols. These provide health benefits even in small concentrations. These are the phytosterols found in black currant seed oil .
- Campesterol – It is firmly anti-inflammatory and lowers the degeneration of cartilage in arthritis.
- Stigmasterol – Anti-cancerous compound. It also lowers blood glucose and exerts an effect on the thyroid hormone.
- β – Sitosterol – This phytosterol reduces cholesterol levels in the blood.
Chemical properties of Black Currant Seed Oil
From a medicinal point of view, some chemical properties of oil must be known. One of them is antioxidant capacity, measured in terms of ORAC value. The antioxidant power of black currant seed oil is not yet known.
Buying and Storage
Black currant seed oil is available in bottles as well as in capsules. One should note the source and method of preparation of oil. These are usually added with antioxidants to prevent this oil from getting rancid. Still, one should keep it away from sunlight, preferably in a cool and dark place.
1.Effect of dietary supplementation with black currant seed oil on the immune response of healthy elderly subjects. Dayong Wu et al. 1999 American Society for Clinical Nutrition
2. Black currant seed oil and fish oil supplements differ in their effects on fatty acid profiles of plasma lipids and concentrations of serum total and lipoprotein lipids, plasma glucose and insulin. Raija L. Tahvonen et al. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
3. Gamma-linolenic acid, black currant seed and evening primrose oil in preventing cardiac arrhythmia in aged rats. John S Charnock et al. Nutrition Research
4. TREATMENT OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS WITH BLACKCURRANT SEED OIL. L. J. LEVENTHAL, E. G. BOYCE and R. B. ZURIER. Rheumatology.
5. Conjugated linoleic acid and black currant seed oil to treat canine atopic dermatitis: A preliminary report. C. Noli et al. The Veterinary Journal.
6. Fractionation of blackcurrant seed oil. H. Traifler, H. J. Wille, A. Studer. Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society.
7. Lipid composition of Bulgarian chokeberry, black currant and rosehip seed oils. Magdalen D Zlatanov. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.