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Ribes Nigrum / Black Currant - Classification, Ayurvedic Properties & Dosage

Description

Ribes nigrum commonly known as black currant is a very popular fruit bearing perennial shrub. It is native to the temperate regions of Eurasia and northern Asia and was cultivated for more than 400 years, but was described by herbalists only in the 17th century. Black currant is the most consumed fruit throughout the world in different forms such as jams, juices, squashes, syrups or as a whole. It was widely used in Chinese folk medicine.

Ribes Nigrum, Black Currant, Classification, Ayurvedic Properties, Dosage, Vernacular Names, Taxonomical Classification, Habitat, Chemical Composition, Ancient Verse

Synonyms

  • Black currant (common name)
  • European black currant
  • European currant

Systematic Classification

  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Phylum - Tracheophyta
  • Class - Magnoliopsida
  • Order - Saxifragales
  • Family – Grossulariaceae

Chemical Composition

Ribes nigrum contains many chemical compounds which lead to its pharmacological and nutritional properties. It contains Phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), tannins, carbohydrates and organic acids.

Phenolic Compounds

  • Anthocyanins: Delphinidin-3-O-rutinoside, delphinidin-3-O-glucoside, cyanidin-3-O-rutinoside and cyanidin-3-O-glucoside.
  • Proanthocyanidins: Polymer of catechins (flavan-3-ols).
  • Flavonols: Quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol.
  • Phenolic acid: Gallic acid.
  • Hydroxycinnamic acids: Caffeic acid, coumaric acid, and ferulic acid. Stilbenoids.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (Pufa)

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), oleic acid.

Vitamins

L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and Vitamin E.

Carbohydrates

Galacturonic acid, galactose, xylose and arabinose.

Tannis

Hydrolyzed tannin: ellagitannins and gallotannins.

Essential Oils

Limonene, sabinene, ocimene, pinene, terpinolene, carene, humulene, terpinen and caryophyllene.

Minerals

Potassium, magnesium calcium and iron.

Habitat

Black currant is widely present in the east and central European region, northern Asia, United states and New Zealand. It grows in well enriched soil having water holding capacity. Aeration of the soil is a must for black currant cultivation. It grows best at a pH range from 5 to 7 with mild temperate summers and cold winters, and can survive -40℃ or less temperature. It inhabits hedges, bushlands, woodlands and meadows and stream sides.

Morphology

Ribes nigrum shrub is 1-2 m in height, and can grow wide or compact. Stem is erect and glandular and does not have spines. Buds are scented and yellowish-reddish in color. Leaves are alternate and simple, 5-10 cm long and 3-5 cm broad having one node, leaf edges have 3-5 lobes and pale-green in color. It has racemose inflorescence, bearing about 10-12 flowers. It bears purplish, aromatic and sweet edible berries having seeds. Berries are 12 mm in diameter and have a shiny appearance.

Ancient Practices

In 17h century, a herbalist and trained English surgeon John Gerard referred to the use of black currant for making tea and medical potions.

Practical Uses And Benefits

Anti Inflammatory

Due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, black currant leaves have been used in European traditional medicine to treat a variety of diseases, including rheumatism, arthritis, and respiratory issues.

Immunity Booster

Consuming black currant fruit increases general immunity since it contains high amounts of anthocyanin and vitamin C.

Antimicrobial

Essential oils extracted from buds of the Ribes nigrum have antimicrobial properties and traditionally were used to treat infections. Externally it is also used to treat wounds and skin infections.

Antioxidant

  • It has been shown that the phenolic extracts from black currants offer efficient neuroprotection against oxidative stress of our body.
  • Phenolic components present in Ribes nigrum are helpful to improve overall heart health thus reducing risks of having cardiovascular diseases, also protects liver and chronic diseases of the kidney.
  • Phenolic compounds such as isorhamnetin and quercetin help to treat high blood pressure and improve blood circulation.
  • Studies revealed that phenolic compounds found in Ribes nigrum significantly inhibited the growth of cancer cell lines.

Diabetes

Consumption of black currant lowers the blood glucose level and helpful for people having type 2 diabetes, because it contains high content of manganese which provides hypoglycemic effect.

Ocular Health

Anthocyanin present in black currants is beneficial to eye health, it can help to treat glaucoma and possesses relaxing effects to ciliary muscles.

Cosmetics

  • Oil extracted from black currant seeds is used to treat skin issues such as eczema and dermatitis, it nourishes the skin and protects from irritation and rashes, it also increases elasticity in the skin thus preventing wrinkles.
  • Black currants have superoxide dismutase, which is an antioxidant, shows anti-aging properties, thus helps to prevent skin ageing.
  • Essential oil extracted from buds of black currant has many applications, it is also used in cosmetics for imparting aroma and in perfume industries as an ingredient to create fragrance.

Foods

  • Fruits of black currant can be processed to make jellies, pie fillings, ice creams, candies, desserts and flavored mineral water. It can be preserved by freezing and by making concentrates such as jams.
  • In Finland a refreshing drink called 'louhisaari' is prepared from the young leaves of Ribes nigrum in early summers.
  • It is also used to prepare different types of beverages, in France it is used to prepare traditional alcoholic drinks called ''cassis liqueur'', "crème de cassis" and for conversion of white wine into rose wine.
  • Extraction of black currant leaves were also used to impart color and sharp astringent taste to vodka.

Part Used

Leaves, seeds, buds, fruit (berries)

Dosage

  • Seed Powder : 1-3 gm
  • Leaf Juice : 5-10 ml
  • Essential Oil : 3-5 ml
  • Juice : 300 ml
  • Syrup : 2-5 ml
  • Powder : 5 gm

Other Ayurvedic Herb

Currants are of many types, many of them are found in western world, there are a total 10 species of black currant in which one is native to india.

Carissa carandas (karonda): It is a flowering plant belonging to the family Apocynaceae. It also produces berries / fruits like that of Ribes nigrum and commonly used in Indian dishes as condiments and pickles. It is commonly called Bengal-currants and Black currants in general.

Effects On Doshas

Reduces vata doshas, increases kapha and pitta doshas.

Conclusion

Ribes nigrum is a well known and favorite black currant species of all times. It not only has delicious flavor but also has many pharmacological properties which is beneficial to almost all the parts of the body and general health. It has been used since ancient times but recent research on its properties make it a choice of currant for almost all the countries and for all ages, from medicine to cosmetics to food and desserts, it has many applications. In India also it is widely used in tasty drinks and cosmetics, although India has Carissa carandas which is also considered as black currant but not popular as Ribes nigrum. One thing to be noted is that in the modern world it is mainly used for taste with added sugars and preservatives. One should focus more on consuming it fresh, or taking its extracts like essential oils instead of sugary syrups to have its benefits as much as one can.

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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

MD (ALT. MEDICINE)

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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan

MD (AYURVEDA)

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