Building immune defences - three ways blackcurrant can help combat flu viruses - and their impressive record with pandemic infections

Building immune defences - three ways blackcurrant can help combat flu viruses - and their impressive record with pandemic infections

RESEARCHERS in Japan have found that blackcurrants may be THE fruit to consume to ward off infection and prevent the spread of viruses.

With viral threats hitting the headlines world-wide, approching flu season and the threat to travellers, there’s never been a more pressing time to keep our immune systems high and maintain impeccable hygiene routines.

The good news is blackcurrant anthocyanins could help boost your body's anti-viral defences, with multiple studies showing their potent anti-viral effects across a range of viruses – including some of the biggest killers in recent times.

In one study, a New Zealand blackcurrant solution was tested on different strains of influenza, including the 2009-10 pandemic ‘swine’ flu, Hong Kong flu, influenza virus type B and Russian flu, which is resistant to the flu vaccine.

Using just low doses of blackcurrant extract, they found the berry acted as a ‘disinfectant’ in cells. The extract inhibited absorption onto cell surfaces by 95%, impaired viral growth and release by infected cells.  

The findings of the paper, entitled Anti-viral and anti-bacterial activities of an extract of blackcurrants, concluded: “The extracts of blackcurrant showed definite potential for use as a disinfectant and antiseptic agent to prevent IFV infection. Blackcurrant extract could offer a mild and natural prophylactic against infectious diseases.”

Iranian scientists have also carried out research into how anthocyanins have a role to play in the fight against the spread of viruses.

They concluded: “The potential of anthocyanin to show its antiviral effects through binding to host cells, inhibiting viral life cycle, or stimulating host immunity, strengthens the idea that anthocyanin would be an essential brick and a potential therapeutic agent to find novel antiviral lead-compounds.”

Just four months ago, these findings were confirmed in another study, published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, with scientists concluding that “Altogether, the blackcurrant extracts displayed auspicious anti-InfV effects through different mechanisms.”

New Zealand blackcurrant extract also has the added benefit of boosting the immune system and mucosal defences – again through its high level of anthocyanins – which reduces the likelihood of contracting a virus in the first place.


Anti-viral and anti-bacterial activities of two extracts of the blackcurrant from New Zealand and Poland Fukushima Journal of Medical Science, Vol 59, No1, 2013

Anti-viral and anti-bacterial activities of an extract of blackcurrants, Microbiology and Immunology 56: 805–809 doi:10.1111/j.1348-0421.2012.00510.x

The Signalling Pathways and Therapeutic Targets of Antiviral Agents: Focusing on the Antiviral Approaches and Clinical Perspectives of Anthocyanins in the Management of Viral Diseases, Frontiers in Pharmacology,  2019 Nov 8. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.01207

Anti-Influenza Nutraceuticals: Antiviral and Anti-Inflammatory Effects, Advances in Complementary Alternative Medicine 4(3). ACAM.000590.2019. DOI: 10.31031/ACAM.2019.04.000590.