Black Currant and Borage Oil - Medicinal Uses, Interactions, Side Effects, Dosage


Author: Steve Mathew

Black Currant and Borage Oil
Several parts of the black currant (Ribes nigrum) and borage (Baraga officinalis) plants are used medicinally. Black currant berries are also called quinsy berries, and borage seed oil is also called startlower oil. The plant oils are derived from the berries or seeds.

Uses and Benefits:

Historically, the leaves of black currant and borage plants have been used for various rheumatic and inflammatory conditions, and as herbal diuretics. Black currant has also been used for diarrhea, while borage has also been used as an antipyretic, expectorant, and general tonic. Currently, both plant oils are employed as rich sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Along with evening primrose oil, these GLA-containing oils are used for chronic inflammatory and other conditions such as eczema, rheumatic disorders, mastalgia, premenstrual syndrome, and diabetic neuropathy.1-4 Patients with these disorders are thought to be unable to sufficiently convert their dietary essential fatty acids to GLA, a precursor of anti-inflammatory eicosanoids 5 ; thus, supplementation with GLA-rich plant oils is considered beneficial.


The richest plant source of GLA is borage seed oil (about 23%), followed by black currant oil (15-20%) and evening primrose oil (7-10%).15 The borage plant also contains small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (highest in the leaves and stems), mucilages, saponins, and tannins. Black currant contains flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and tannins, and the oil is also rich in alpha-linoleic acid; this can be converted in the body to eicosapentanoic acid, which is also found in fish oils.
The metabolic pathway of GLA has been well established in humans and other animals. Dietary linoleic acid (LA), an essential fatty acid, is converted to GLA by a rate-limiting enzymatic step.GLA is then rapidly converted to dihomo-gammalinolenic acid (GLA), which is further metabolized to 1-series prostaglandins (PGs, such as PGE 1 ) and 3-series leukotrienes (LTs), which have mti-nflammatory properties, and to arachidonic acid (AA) in limited amounts. AA is converted by cyclo-oxygenases and lipoxyge to pro-inflammatory mediators such as the 2-series prostaglandins
GLA supplementation has been shown to attenuate the in vitro inflammatory response by enriching cells with DGLA.

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About the Author:

Steve Mathew is a writer, who writes many great articles on herbal medicines and ayurvedic medicines for common ailments and diseases. Visit us for more information on herbal remediesand ayurvedic medicines.