Other Names: Cassis (French); Schwarze Johannisbeere (German); ribes nero (Italian).
Description: Blackcurrant is a shrub of about 2 m height, with deeply lobed, reticulately veined and doubly dentate leaves. The white flowers are borne in short clusters, and develop into brownish black, shiny fruits, each tipped by the persistent calyx. It is closely related to red currant, R. rubrum, a species grown for its glistening, bright red fruit. The fruit of both species can be used to make jam and jelly.
Origin: Central and eastern Europe. It is cultivated in cold temperate regions.
Parts Used: Mainly the leaves (blackcurrant leaf - Ribis nigri folium) but also the fruit and seed oil.
Therapeutic Category: Traditional diuretic.
Uses and Properties: Leaves are a traditional health and are taken to support joint pain, spasmodic cough and diarrhoea. Leaves and buds are taken in cases of joint pain and urinary problems. As a tasty source of vitamin C, the fruits are useful as a dietary supplement during the cough and cold season. Fresh ripe fruits and fruit juice are useful in cases of mild diarrhoea. Seed oil has become popular as an alternative to evening primrose oil. It contains about 15% gamma-linolenic acid.
Preparation and Dosage: A tea is made from 2 - 4 g of finely chopped leaves and is taken several times a day. The leaves are sometimes included in diuretic tea mixtures and other herbal teas.
Active Ingredients: Flavonoids (about 0.5%) are present, including derivatives of quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, isorhamnetin and sakuranetin. Essential oil, 0.4% proanthocyanidins, diterpenes and ascorbic acid (0.3%) are reported to be present.
Health Effects: Experiments with rats and cats show diuretic and hypotensive effects; the flavonoids decrease the permeability of capillaries and the formation of prostaglandins. Oligomeric proanthocyanidins and perhaps anthocyanidins in the fruit are likely to have antioxidant effects. These properties may explain some of the health uses of the product.
Notes: Blackcurrent fruits are used for jam or soft drinks. They are especially famous for making a liqueur known as Crème de cassis, which is traditionally mixed with dry white wine or champagne (this tasty mixture is known as "kir"). A valuable essential oil is distilled from the buds.
Status: Traditional health; ESCOP 4.
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease. If conditions persist, please seek advice from your medical doctor. Information provided at ZooScape.com relies partly on Traditional Uses. The essence of the current American rule on Traditional Uses is, as stated by FTC, "Claims based on historical or traditional use should be substantiated by confirming scientific evidence, or should be presented in such a way that consumers understand that the sole basis for the claim is a history of use of the product for a particular purpose."