Herb of the Day: Blackcurrant

( Ribes nigrum )

Parts used: Leaves, berries

Blackcurrant is a deciduous scrub that grows to about 5 ft. It has serrated plum shaped lobed leaves, small greenish white flowers, and clusters of black berries. It is a native to the temperate regions of Europe, Himalayas, western and central Asia. It is mainly grown in eastern Europe for its sweet,sour berries.The leaves are gathered in the early summer, and the berries when ripe are gathered in mid to late summer.The leaves contains flavonoids, tannins, proanthocyanidins, prodelphinidins, and a volatile oil. the berries contains flavonoids, flavonols, proanthocyanidins, and sugar. The seeds contains the essential fatty acids linoleic and alpha linolenic acids, gamma linolenic acid, and steridonic acid. The blackcurrant oil available on the market has been refined and will not contain these oils. The proanthocyanidins, especially in the fruit, are strongly antioxidant and a anti inflammatory, a protective activity on the capillaries. The prodelphinidins are anti inflammatory. Blackcurrant leaves are used in Europe for their diuretic effect, by encouraging the elimination of fluid, and helps reduce blood volume, which lowers blood pressure. Leaves are also used to gargle for sore throats, and canker sores. French investigators find that the leaves increase the secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands, and thus stimulates the activity of sympathetic nervous system. Blackcurrant berries and their juice are high in vitamin C. They help improve resistance to infection, a valuable remedy for colds and flu. Herbal authority R. F. Weiss, says the juice is, as good as if not better than lemon juice for patients with pneumonia, influenza.
The juice if fresh,helps to stem diarrhea and calms indigestion. The juice that is fresh or vacuum sealed is more effective than concentrate.


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