Black currant seed oil, as the name suggests, is derived from black currant seeds; the black currant berries, also known as Ribes nigrum, are obtained from the Saxifragaceae shrub. The oil contains linoleic acid in two forms, 17% of gamma-linoleic acid from the omega-6 family and 13% of alpha-linoleic acid from the omega-3 family. The omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for carrying out many essential body functions. The body breaks down the fatty acids to produce regulatory substances called prostaglandins. These are hormones that control vascular muscle cell contraction and dilation, cell growth, tissue protection, pain sensitization, platelet aggregation as well as platelet disaggregation, calcium movement, and inflammatory mediation.
The oil is used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory agent. It has been found effective in treating arthritis and rheumatism. The oil can reduce the production of cytokines, which cause inflammation, and this brings about a lower incidence of joint inflammation and stiffness. Menstrual cramps, menopause pains and PMS disorders can be treated with black currant seed oil.
Gamma-linoleic acid is known to lower blood pressure and prevent blood vessel constriction. It is know to reduce cholesterol, and promote better cellular metabolic activity. This can help guard against heart attack and help with weight reduction. The linoleic acid has also been known to help reduce toxic levels in the liver, and as such is used to treat people with alcohol-related liver problems.
Skin complaints like skin irritation and dryness, which usually arise from a loss of water content in the skin, can also be treated using this essential oil. The fatty acids in the oil help repair skin tissue and provide the skin with the required moisture. Wrinkle formation can also be reduced to a certain extent with the black currant seed oil. Regular use can help keep the skin in a supple condition.
Black currant seed oil can be taken orally in capsule form. The oil is generally not known to have any adverse side effects when taken alone or in combination with other medication. There have been a few accounts, however, of black currant seed oil causing rashes or respiratory problems. It is advisable, therefore, to consult a physician before making these capsules a part of one's daily health regimen. It is possible to obtain the essential fatty acids required by the body from other dietary sources like soybeans, walnuts and kiwi fruit seeds as well as from primrose oil, hemp seed oil and borage oil.