Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Black currant seed oil

Black currant seed oil is a balanced oil which contains some linoleic acid, but is also one of the few oils containing gamma linolenic acid (makes prostaglandins of the one series). These prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that are anti-inflammatory and counteract the pain-producing, inflammatory, vasoconstrictive properties of the two series. The use of black currant seed oil has been well researched for its benefits. Black Currant Seed Oil (BCSO) is a rich source of the popular gamma linolenic acid and is a very popular omega-6 fatty acid.

Signs and Symptoms for Nutrient Applications
- Chronic inflammatory conditions - Dermatitis - Eczema - Rheumatoid arthritis - PMS - Menstrual cramps - Immune effects - Cardiovascular conditions - Poor wound healing - Sparse hair growth - Dry eyes (one study found BCSO to be helpful in Sjogren's Disease)

Clinical Applications/Research

Immune effects
Black currant seed oil (BCSO) has a profound effect on the immune system, and a correlation was found between the oil and the degree of developing resistance to infection and virus accumulation (Vopr Virusol 1993;38:170-3).

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
A study on rheumatoid arthritis patients showed, "A significant improvement in morning stiffness was noted in the rheumatoid arthritis patients receiving black currant seed oil" (British J Rheumatology 1993;32:1055-8). A clinical trial with 37 RA patients showed such positive results that the authors concluded that gamma-linolenic acid, "is a well-tolerated and effective treatment for active RA" (Ann Int Med 1993; 119(9):867-73). The beneficial effects of BCSO on RA may result from its ability to decrease inflammatory cytokine production, which would explain why it is so effective in treating RA. It is probably hitting the source of inflammation and not just treating symptoms. In a clinical trial where BCSO demonstrated improvement of RA symptoms, "The results suggest that the numerous beneficial effects of (BCSO) in inflammatory diseases such as RA may be due to a reduction in the secretion of the inflammatory cytokines Il-1 and TNF-alpha..." (Br J Rheumtol 1993; 32(12):1055-8).

Cardiovascular effects
The prostaglandins made by black currant seed oil counteract vessel constriction. Vessel wall thrombus formation (atherosclerotic lesions) was decreased when a diet rich in black currant seed oil was fed. "This latter effect was better obtained when gamma linolenic acid was present suggesting a secondary effect of this fatty acid...We conclude that both fish oil and black currant seed oil rich diets inhibit platelet/vessel wall adhesion" (Thromb Res 1990;59(5):819-30). In two Canadian studies, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) significantly reduced blood pressure (Heinerman, John. Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs. Parker Publishing, West Nyack, NY p.134).

Female conditions
Antiinflammatory substances produced by black currant seed oil, along with the beneficial immune effects, can have a favorable influence on many female conditions.

Supplementation of oil containing 10% gamma linolenic acid was tested on dermatitis, and antiinflammatory substances were increased. The abnormal fatty acid pattern seen in dermatitis is believed to be involved in the pathogenesis of the disease, "and should therefore be the target for future therapeutic approaches with fatty acid supplements" (Lipids 1991;26:557-60). In another study of 12 volunteers, gamma linolenic acid-enriched oil not only inhibited the inflammatory substance LTB4, but the larger dose (1.5g) had a greater inhibition than the .5 g dose (AJCN 1992;55:39-45).

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