The oil made from blackcurrant seeds is rich in gamma-linolenic acid or GLA, which some research suggests may boost the human immune system and its disease-fighting abilities. Blackcurrant seed oil and leaves are recommended for a variety of other herbal uses. Yet some people may be sensitive to blackcurrant without knowing it, especially if they have a food or drug sensitivity to salicylates. Keeping a food diary is the first step in investigating blackcurrant reactions, to see if they are part of a larger issue.
Blackcurrant is one among many fruits, vegetables and commercial food and drug products that can trigger salicylate sensitivities. Salicylate is a natural plant ingredient chemically related to aspirin. People with salicylate sensitivities may react to aspirin and similar products, from other painkillers, cough mixtures and antacids to cold and flu medications and acne lotions. Some people are primarily sensitive to foods high in salicylates -- or just a few particular foods -- and others react to anything containing them.
Children and adults with low-level sensitivity to blackcurrant may experience hives or other rashes and swelling. Blackcurrant may trigger asthma, eczema and even stomachaches. Runny nose, conjunctivitis and nasal polyps are other possible symptoms -- most of which will start to subside once exposure ends. More extreme reactions are possible.
High Salicylate Foods
In addition to blackcurrant, a variety of other berries are high in salicylates, including blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, cherries, cranberry, currant, loganberry, raspberry, redcurrant, strawberry and youngberry. Other trigger fruits include apricots, cherries, dates, grapes and raisins, guava, pineapple and plums and prunes, in addition to oranges, tangelos and tangerines. Tomatoes and tomato-based foods, peppers, olives and radishes may be problems for people sensitive to blackcurrants, along with almonds, water chestnuts and all jams, jellies and marmalade except pear.
Unfortunately for anyone suffering for general salicylate sensitivity or allergy, they are in countless other products, from chewing gum, peppermints and fruit-flavored sweets to curry, dill and thyme and fish paste. If your symptoms are mild -- and keep in mind that they may be caused by something else -- , you may want to start keeping a food diary to track what you eat and any reactions under your doctor’s guidance. Eventually, a pattern may emerge. By eliminating blackcurrant and other troublesome foods or products, you may discover that you can safely introduce them later in small amounts.
- Auckland Allergy Clinic; Salicylate Sensitivity; September 2001
- InteliHealth; What Are Allergies And Who Is At Risk?; February 2008
- Cleveland Clinic: What is a Drug Allergy?
- Cleveland Clinic: Problem Foods -- Is it an Allergy or Intolerance?
- MayoClinic.com; Aspirin Allergy: What are the Symptoms?; Mayo Clinic staff; Nov. 2010
- MedlinePlus: Cranberry