Black currant oil consists of oil pressed from black currant seeds. It can be bought in health food stores in supplement capsules of 500mg, or in liquid form. The oil is promoted as effective for treating a wide variety of disorders, including candida, fatigue, high blood pressure, pain and inflammation and skin problems. A limited number of scientific studies has shed some light on potential benefits of taking black currant oil.
Black currant oil supplies essential fatty acids, rutin and other flavonoids, and a high amount of vitamin C. Essential fatty acid supplements are often recommended in the form of fish oil capsules, as a benefit for cardiovascular health and as an immune system booster. Black currant oil is a natural source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fat that can be difficult to obtain through diet. Flavonoids also show benefits for cardiovascular health, and flavonoids and vitamin C are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants protect against free radicals that can cause cell damage and disease.
Skin, Nails and Hair
Physician Andrew Weil notes on his website that black currant oil can be effective in treating eczema, psoriasis and other skin disorders. Many naturopath websites recommend black currant oil for these purposes as well. Weil also recommends the oil for weak and brittle nails, and dry, brittle, splitting and thinning hair.
A study published in a 2003 issue of Rheumatology found moderate support for effectiveness of GLA in treating rheumatoid arthritis. GLA shows promise for reducing pain, stiffness and joint tenderness. Rheumatoid arthritis patients often are searching for alternatives to drug therapy, as drugs prescribed to treat this autoimmune disorder typically have toxic effects.
An in vitro study showed black currant extract can inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer and colon cancer cells. Researchers theorize this effect is due to the high vitamin C content. In viro studies are conducted in a controlled environment outside of a living organism, so much more research is needed in this area.
Weil states that GLA is an effective anti-inflammatory agent without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. The body actually uses GLA to create its own anti-inflammatory agents. Weil prescribes it for inflammatory autoimmune conditions such as lupus. Naturopathic doctor Jody Noé, of the Brattleboro Naturopathic Clinic in Vermont, also recommends people with lupus take 500mg to 1000 mg daily of a GLA source such as black currant oil.