Black Currant (Ribes nigrum)
Black currants are berries that grow on a small shrub that is native to Europe and northern Asia. Also known as cassis, the fruit is high in vitamin C. In fact, during World War II when citrus was in short supply on the home front, residents of Great Britain were encouraged to grow blackcurrants in their garden so they wouldn't miss this important nutrient. Used externally as well as taken internally for its obvious nutritional value, this a very important herbal medicine.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Black currant jelly was the traditional cure for a sore throat. A tablespoon was mixed into a cup of hot water and taken as many times per day as necessary. Blackcurrant is astringent and antibacterial. It is effective against inflammation and congestion in the body tissues and can work to relieve arthritis, prostatitis and gout.
Black currant helps the tissues drain excess fluid and waste, stimulating better circulation and healing. It is a hormone regulator and can relieve the symptoms of menopause. Because blackcurrant improves the circulation, it can be used for varicose veins. It also rids the body of parasites, helps jaundice, arteriosclerosis and improves eyesight. It is currently under study as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease.
Externally Black currant can be used to heal skin problems like dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis by applying the infusion of the leaves to the problem and taking it internally at the same time. Crushed leaves of blackcurrant can be crushed and rubbed on insect bites to relieve itching and pain. Leaves can also be rubbed on the skin to prevent insect bites. Due to its antibacterial properties, blackcurrant can be used on abscesses, boils, and scrapes.
Other Uses Black currant is used in juice and in cooking. Made into jelly, cordials, syrups and sauces, blackcurrants add depth to the food's flavor. Oil from the seeds can be used in cosmetics. The plant has been used for dyeing. The leaves produce a yellow dye and the berries produce a blue or violet dye.
Leaves, Seeds, Berries The leaves, seeds and berries are used medicinally. The seeds are pressed to release oil.
Pregnant women should not take blackcurrant without the guidance of an experienced care giver.
Preparation and Dosage
Black currant leaves should be collected in the early spring before insects have damaged them. A leaf infusion is easily made by steeping a tablespoon of leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. This infusion is tasty and one can drink 3 or 4 cups per day.