A deciduous shrub that is native to western Asia and northern Europe, the Ribes Nigrum is also known as Black Currant or Quinsy Berries. Preferring mild climates, this shrub typically grows between two and six feet in height, given the proper growing environment. It requires dirt that is well drained, so it prefers sandy, loamy, or clay-like soils. Although the Black Currant plant needs moist soil in which to grow, it does well in both full sun and partial shade environments. It is rather hardy in nature, is not sensitive to frost, and is naturalized in North America at this point in time.
It is a perennial plant that features woody branches and dark green leaves that are spotted on the underside. The leaves, which have jagged edges, often appear in pairs or small groups. The Ribes Nigrum begins to produce small bunches of flowers in the early spring months of April and May. The flowers, which are greenish white in coloring, contain both female and male organs. Once pollinated, the flowers begin to produce small berries that are deep purple, green, or white in coloring. The fruit is quite small, although larger fruits have been seen.
Both the leaves and fruit of the Ribes Nigrum are edible. The fruit offers a rich, aromatic taste and can be eaten raw. However, it is more commonly cooked in recipes for jams, jellies, pies, and breads. Although these products are not as popular as they were long ago, black currants are used to make wine, brandy, or cordials. Today, they are included in non-alcoholic drinks as well. The leaves can be used either to flavor soup or to brew tea. Ribes Nigrum leaves are commonly included in certain varieties of blended teas rather than being used solo. Dyes are also made from the Ribes Nigrum shrub – bluish violet from the fruit and yellow from the leaves.
The Ribes Nigrum has earned itself a reputation derived from its use for therapeutic capabilities. Herbalists use Black Currant to treat a variety of medical issues including diarrhea, arthritis, gout, severe coughing, rheumatism, kidney stones, liver disorders, and urinary issues. It has also been used as a diuretic for the elimination of fluids, and it is thought to aid in strengthening the body’s resistance to the common cold, flu, and certain types of infectious diseases.
In the past, it has been used to minimize inflammation, particularly of the tonsils. Today, certain varieties of throat lozenges contain black currant in their recipes. According to a study published in “The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry,” Black Currant Oil is helpful in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Studies also connect this oil with antiviral capabilities against influenza types A and B. The juice of this plant has been used to reduce the symptoms of indigestion or to stop diarrhea.
Its medicinal uses include the treatment of whooping cough, a disease that has been seen more frequently in the early part of the twenty-first century than in the recent past. The leaves of the Black Currant shrub are dried, made into a tea, and given to afflicted children. This tea can also be used as a gargling solution to relief the discomfort of bleeding gums.
Black Currant Oil is sometimes used in the beauty industry as a substitute for evening primrose oil. The oil is produced through a process that squeezes it from the seeds of the fruit. It contains Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA), an Omega-6 fatty acid that is known to have an integral role in the functionality of the brain. GLA also offers protection to the skin, strengthening its natural resiliency and soothing it at the same time.
The oil also contains anthocyanins and flavonoids, both of which are thought to offer antioxidant capabilities. Some individuals in the medical field believe that the anthocyanins found in Black Currant Seed Oil may help to prevent the development of cancer since they stabilize free radicals that can lead to this type of disease.
Black Currant Oil has frequently been used in acne treatments due to its anti-inflammatory capabilities against the enzyme (prostaglandin E (2)) occurring in sebum production. As a good source of vitamin C, minerals, and other vitamins, Black Currant Oil offers anti-aging capabilities that help to preserve the skin’s natural stores of hydration, while balancing the skin and aiding in the regeneration of skin cells.