The Benefits of Black Currant

Black currants and leaves on a cutting board

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Black currant is a natural remedy said to offer a variety of health benefits. Sourced from Ribes nigrum (a plant native to parts of Europe and Asia), black currant extract is typically derived from black currant fruit or from the oil of black currant seeds. Black currant extracts are widely available in dietary supplement form.

Black currant oil contains gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid found to reduce inflammation. In addition, black currant berries (a substance often consumed as a whole food) contain high amounts of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant.


In alternative medicine, black currant extracts are touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

Additionally, black currant extract is said to boost the immune system and promote detox.


Here's a look at some key findings from studies on the potential health benefits of black currant extract:

1) Cholesterol

There's some evidence that consumption of black currant seed oil may help keep cholesterol in check. For example, a 2010 study from Phytotherapy Research found that regular consumption of black currant seed oil may help improve total cholesterol levels and reduce levels of triglycerides (a type of harmful blood fat). The study involved 2,154 patients with abnormal cholesterol levels, each of whom consumed black currant seed oil every day for six weeks.

In addition, a small study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in 2005 found that black currant seed oil was more effective than fish oil in decreasing levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol. However, it's important to note that the study involved only 15 participants and a four-week treatment period and that a number of other studies have indicated that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be of significant benefit in regulating cholesterol levels.

2) Eye Health

Black currant extract shows promise for treatment of glaucoma. In a 2012 study published in Ophthalmologica, for instance, researchers found that consuming black-currant-sourced anthocyanins, in combination with antiglaucoma medication, may benefit people with open-angle glaucoma.

For the study, 38 patients with open-angle glaucoma consumed either black currant anthocyanins or a placebo once daily for two years. Throughout the study period, all participants were also treated with anti-glaucoma drops. Results revealed that patients treated with black currant anthocyanins experienced a significantly greater increase in ocular blood flow compared to those treated with the placebo.

3) Oxidative Stress

Black currant fruit extract may help protect against oxidative stress, according to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Physiology. In tests on human cells, the study's authors determined that anthocyanins found in black currant extract may help suppress oxidative stress, as well as enhance the immune response to infection.


Although little is known about the safety of regular use of dietary supplements containing black currant extract, there's some concern that black currant may interfere with blood clotting. Given this safety concern, it's important for people with bleeding disorders to take caution when consuming black currant extract. In addition, the use of black currant extract should be avoided prior to undergoing surgery.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Where to Find It

Widely available for purchase online, dietary supplements containing black currant extract and black currant seed oil are sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Using It for Health

While including black currants in the diet may offer some nutritional benefits, there is currently a lack of scientific evidence to support the use of black currant extract as a standard treatment for any health problem. If you're considering using it, make sure to talk with your doctor first. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstance or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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