Native to northern Europe and Asia, blackcurrant (sometimes spelled "black currant") is a shrub that produces clusters of tart berries during the summer.
The berries are used in many foods and drinks. Blackcurrants are rare in the United States, however, and growing them was banned for several decades because they can carry a fungus that kills pine trees.
Blackcurrant seed oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a type of omega-6 fatty acid that's been said to help ease inflammation in the body.
GLA may help reduce joint pain, stiffness, and soreness in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is a disease in which people's immune systems attack their joints, causing chronic inflammation. In some studies, GLA supplements were so effective that participants with RA could reduce their usual pain medications.
Blackcurrants contain a lot of potassium, which helps to lower high blood pressure. Besides dropping blood pressure, the GLA in blackcurrants helps cells in your heart resist damage and also slows down platelet clumping in your blood vessels. When the platelets in your blood stick together, this can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Blackcurrant seed oil's anti-inflammatory effects may help keep healthy folks that way. A study of healthy older adults showed the oil helped boost their immune systems by cutting their production of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE2). Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that help the muscles and blood vessels contract and relax. They're released whenever there is an infection or injury, but too much can cause inflammation and prevent the immune system from working properly. Because we release more PGE2 as we age, using blackcurrant seed oil to lower production can prevent inflammation-related fevers and help the immune system work better.
Lots of folks swear by the antioxidant capabilities of red wine and grape juice, which help to cut the oxidation of "bad" cholesterol. Bad cholesterol can cause plaque buildup inside the arteries, along with heart disease.
However, according to a British study of 35 juices, you may be sipping the wrong kind of juice. While grape-based drinks are still good for you, the study found that it's blackcurrant juice (along with pomegranate juice) that is the most potent when it comes to antioxidants.
When it comes to vitamin C-containing foods, blackcurrants are superstars. They have three to four times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, based upon serving weights.
Blackcurrant seed oil is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, such as eczema, although there hasn't been much in the way of scientific research. However, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects are known to help ease the symptoms of another disorder, psoriasis.
Because it can slow blood clotting, blackcurrant supplements are not recommended for people with bleeding disorders or those about to have surgery. Not enough is known about dried blackcurrant leaves to rate their safety. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should talk to their doctor before taking any supplements, including blackcurrant.
We have .5 oz (53 servings) Genestra black currant supplements on sale in our office now for $25 + tax.