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Black currant seed oil

Ribes nigrum

First clinical study of y-linolenic acid's effect on human immune function

Linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is abundant in some botanical oils, alters the composition of T-cell membranes, possibly allowing them to function more optimally. In this study, black currant seed oil, which is composed of 15 to 19 percent y-linolenic acid, was chosen to test the acid's effect on human immune function. Forty healthy volunteers aged 65 or older were given 750 mg black currant seed oil or 750 mg soybean oil (placebo) six times/day for two months. Analysis of the volunteers' blood showed that currant seed oil did not increase cell membrane fluidity - one of the mechanisms by which immune function may be optimized. However, the currant seed oil group did demonstrate significant decreases in levels of prostaglandin E2, which researchers interpreted as a "moderate enhancement of immune response." Nearly all other parameters measured indicated no difference between the treatment groups. Borage oil and evening primrose oil are also rich sources of y-linolenic acid. Wu D, Meydani M, Leka L, et al. Effect of dietary supplementation with black currant seed oil on the immune response of healthy elderly subjects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999; 70:536-43.

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