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Black Currant

Health supplements are made from the black currant plant using its:

  • Seed oil
  • Leaves
  • Fruit
  • Flowers

Black currant contains:

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  • Anthocyanidin, a type of  pigment
  • Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid

Some researchers believe these may help the immune system and lessen inflammation.

Why do people take black currant?

Although more study is needed, limited research suggests that black currant might help:

  • Lower total cholesterol, lower triglyceride levels, and increase HDL "good" cholesterol
  • Lessen muscle fatigue after repetitive tasks
  • Help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis such as joint pain, stiffness, and tenderness. This may lessen the need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and may improve function.
  • Poor circulation from conditions such as peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Some women take black currant to try to treat symptoms of:

  • Menopause
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Painful periods
  • Breast tenderness

People also take black currant to try to boost immunity or to try to treat a wide range of problems that include:

People also apply it directly to the skin to try to help with wounds or insect bites.

There is not enough evidence to prove that black currant helps with female-related symptoms or for any of these other health-related problems.

Optimal doses of black currant have not been set for any condition. Quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely from maker to maker. This makes it hard to set a standard dose.

Can you get black currant naturally from foods?

You can eat the berry of the black currant plant. The berry is also used as a flavoring in liqueurs and other products.

What are the risks of taking black currant?

The juice, leaves, and flowers of black currant are safe when eaten in food products. Black currant is also considered safe if you use the berry or seed oil appropriately as medicine. More information is needed to know whether its dried leaf is safe.

Side effects. The GLA in black currant seeds can sometimes cause side effects, such as:

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas and belching

But most people tend to have few problems with GLA. Allergy is a rare complication.

Risks. Black currant may slow blood clotting. So avoid using it if you have a bleeding disorder.

Also, stop taking black currant at least two weeks before surgery in order to:

  • Reduce the risk of bleeding
  • Avoid interactions with anesthesia

People with a history of seizures should avoid using black currant. And, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it's best to avoid use, just to be safe.

Interactions. Be careful about combining black currant with herbs and supplements that can slow blood clotting, such as:

  • Angelica
  • Clove
  • Ginger
  • Panax ginseng

Also be careful about combining black currant with drugs that can slow blood clotting, such as:

  • Aspirin
  • Heparin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Warfarin

Also, avoid combining black currant with antipsychotic drugs called phenothiazines. In some people, this combination may raise the risk of seizure.

The FDA does not regulate supplements. Be sure to tell your doctor about any you're taking, even if they're natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with medications or foods. He or she can let you know if the supplement might raise your risks.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 19, 2013

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