It also contains linoleic acid as well as 2-4% stearidonic acid. There are some indications that black currant seed oil is anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective. In European folk medicine, black currant once had a considerable reputation for controlling diarrhea, promoting urine output (as a diuretic) and reducing arthritic and rheumatic pains. It is primarily used medicinally and as a diet supplement.
The black currant is a deciduous shrub of the Saxifragaceae family. Though all parts of the shrub are usedberries, bark, leaves, and seedsit is the oil of the seed that is used most commonly today. Black currant seed oil is rich in essential fatty acids, which promote and maintain the body's vital functions. Essential fatty acids provide energy, regulate body temperature and metabolism, protect tissues, and insulate nerves. Approximately 17% of black currant seed oil consists of an omega-6 fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Another 13% consists of an omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Evening primrose oil is primarily used for its essential fatty acid content, but it contains only about 8% gamma-linolenic acid, half of what is found in black currant seed oil. Because both omega-6 and omega-3 acids are needed in our diets, a supplement of black currant seed oil is beneficial. These essential fatty acids are broken down by the body into prostaglandins, the body's regulating substances that block pain and govern many other physical functions, especially in proper functioning of the circulatory system.
Because black currant seed oil is so high in gamma-linolenic acid, which makes prostaglandins, it is a highly effective anti-inflammatory herb. The oil is best used for chronic inflammatory conditions, cramps, and aches. It also boosts the immune system, and helps women with their menstrual cycles and menopause, while also easing discomforts associated with premenstrual syndrome. Black currant seed oil is also used to treat skin disorders.
Black currant seed oil is beneficial to patients with cardiovascular problems, as prostaglandins counteract the constriction of blood vessels. Two Canadian studies have also showed that omega-6 fatty acids lower blood pressure.
Because prostaglandins regulate the menstrual cycle, black currant seed oil is helpful for women before and during menstruation. Gamma-linolenic acid produces anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, as opposed to inflammatory prostaglandins, thus lessening the severity of premenstrual cramps. Gamma-linolenic acid has also been shown to alleviate the symptoms of depression and breast tenderness associated with PMS. Menopausal women have also found black currant seed oil to be helpful.