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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Currant, European Black Currant, Quincy Berry
(Ribes nigrum)
Also see:
Red Currant

CONTAINS: LEAVES contain tannins.
FRUIT contains 120 mg vitamin C per 100 grams, or, 0.12% by weight.
SEEDS contain gama-linolenic acid (GLA).

A low shrub (to 6 feet) native to moist soils and shallow marshes in northern temperate zone 5 in Europe and Asia; also found in England, but more prevalent in the northern parts of the country and in Scotland. Leaves are palmate (5 or more lobes), alternate, doubly serrate, and have yellow glands on the under surface; greenish-white flowers appear in drooping racemes; fruits brownish at first, becoming black when ripe.

PROPAGATION: Hardwood cuttings in winter.
NEEDS: Well-drained soil in sun or part shade; protect from cold winds and late frosts; remove weak growth and 1/3 of the older (gray or black) shoots in autumn. Not as long lived as other berry bushes and usually needs to be replaced every 10 years. Susceptible to bud damage from birds, aphids, and 'big bud' gall mites.
HARVEST: Leaves after flowering (used fresh and dried), but being sure not to harvest any having a fungus on the underside of the leaf; fruits when ripe; oil is extracted from ripe seeds.
PART USED: Leaves, fruit, oil.
FLOWERS: April - May.

Sweet-sour, astringent, diaphoretic, tonic, anti-inflammatory, strengthens capillaries, antibacterial and tonic; leaves are diuretic, refrigerant and detergent (cleans wounds and ulcers); juice of the berries is said to be antiseptic and has been used to 'purify' blood. Healing to the nervous sytem.
Due to its GLA content (anti-inflammatory), black currant oil is currently used as a dietary supplement for auto-immune diseases. Thought to be useful in treating Multiple Sclerosis (500 mg taken 2 times daily); GLA can also be found in Evening Primrose oil. Also said to be beneficial in a number of conditions relating to run-down physical states.
Has been used internally for colds, capillary fragility, mouth and throat infections (as a gargle, and also drunk cold for hoarseness and throat problems); also anemia, malnutrition, and general debility (1 pint water to 1 oz leaves). Leaf tea has been used to treat gout, rheumatism, and arteriosclerosis.
Fruit has been used to treat quincy (severe inflammation of the throat). An infusion of the dried berries was also used as a mouthwash for bleeding gums.
Leaves have been used to treat urinary retention and bladder stones. The berries and their juice to treat kidney problems and colic pain.
Both leaf tea and the juice of the berries has been used to treat whooping cough in children.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
LEAVES = 30 to 60 grains
LEAF INFUSION = 1 tsp dried leaves to 1/2 cup water; simmer gently for 2 minutes, then steep for 5 minutes; 1 to 1½ cups taken daily, a mouthful at a time. NOTE: Was sweetened with honey to treat whooping cough.
BERRY INFUSION = 1 to 2 tsp dried berries to 1 cup boiling water; used as a gargle or mouthwash.
JUICE = 1 Tbsp taken 3 times daily or as needed.
SYRUP = Cover leaaves with boiling water and steep 1 hour; strain out liquid and add honey to sweeten, then boil into a syrup and bottle.

1 Tbsp of black currant jam is stirred into 1 cup of water and given to dogs for cough.
The syrup is used for non-specific hysteria in dogs.
Used as an anodyne, refrigerant, and anti-abortive in farm animals.
Used to treat farm animals for mouth and throat problems and fevers: 1 cup of crushed berries given 2 times daily, or, an infusion of 1 handful of well-chopped leaves to 1½ pints water; also used for urinary problems, anemia, and dysentary.
In cases of possible miscarriage in farm animals, handfuls of foliage and twigs are mixed with bran, or 4 Tbsp of crushed berries, given 2 times daily.

Fruit is used to make jams and jellies.
The dried leaves are added to herbal tea blends (dried leaves also added, if desired).
The leaves were once substitued for tea (Camilla spp) or added to tea to make it go further.
Fruit and fruit extract is added to desserts, jams, jellies, drinks and liqueurs.

The GLA oil obtained from the seeds is used in commercial cosmetic preparations.

aka Garden Currant, Garnetberry, Raisin Tree, Wineberry
(Ribes rubrum)

CONTAINS: Vitamin C, tannin, traces of essential oil, enzyme emulsion.

A low shrub (3 to 6 feet) native to zone 4 of Europe and Asia. The stem bark is thin, dry and peeling (young growth is hairy); leaves are alternate, triangular-ovate, dentate and cut, hairy along the veins beneath; flowers are yellowish-green and appear in drooping racemes; berries are shiny red, translucent, and veined and ripen in early to mid-summer. Widely cultivated in Europe, but rarely in the United States.

FLOWERS: April to May
PART USED: Berries


Febrifuge, refrigerant, sialagogue, stomachic; fresh berries or juice promote appetite and are carminative.
Affects the liver and kidneys.
Has been used in Asian medicine as a blood and yin tonic; also as a nutritive and demulcent.
In oriental medicine has been used to treat anemia, wasting diseases, inflammatory diseases, excessive thirst due to fever, and sore throat with dry cough.
Juice has been used as a gargle and mouth wash for sores in mouth and throat; the juice thinned with water has been used to replace alcohol for recovering alcoholics.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
BERRIES = 9 to 15 grams

©2004 by Ernestina Parziale, CH