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Gamma Linolenic Acid Overview

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid present in various plant seed oils, including borage oil, black currant seed oil, and evening primrose oil. It’s been used in homeopathic treatments and traditional remedies for generations. It was first used by Native Americans to cure edema, and by the time it reached Europe, it was used to heal practically everything. It was dubbed the “king’s cure-all” later on.

Gamma Linolenic Acid: Recommendations, Side Effects and Interactions
Gamma Linolenicacid Ingredients

It is used to treat skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and systemic sclerosis. Rheumatoid arthritis, postnatal depression, excessive cholesterol, oral polyps, metabolic syndrome, diabetic nerve pain, heart disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, chronic fatigue, and hay fever all benefit from gamma linolenic acid.

Most health food stores get gamma linolenic acid oils in the form of capsules. However, you may be able to acquire enough GLA without using supplements if you eat a healthy diet.

GLA is necessary for brain health, bone health, reproductive health, and metabolism. It’s also necessary for the growth of skin and hair.

How It Works?

Gamma linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, aids in the formation of substances that not only promote cell growth but also reduce inflammation. [1]

Gamma Linolenic Acid Benefits

  • 1. Dry Eye
  • GLA, when combined with other fatty acids, may aid in alleviating eye dryness and inflammation. [2]

    Oral GLA (mixed with other fatty acids and artificial tears) reduced eye dryness and inflammation in three trials involving over 150 persons with pink eye. While encouraging, there is currently insufficient evidence to support the claim that GLA helps with dry eye. [3]

  • 2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • In rheumatoid arthritis patients, clinical studies using GLA (evening primrose oil, borage seed oil, blackcurrant seed oil) reveal a potential alleviation of pain, morning stiffness, and joint soreness or inflammation. [4]

    Again, the data for gamma linolenic acid uses in persons with rheumatoid arthritis is promising but limited, with a few studies yielding mixed results. There is a need for further clinical research. [5]

  • 3. Diabetic Nerve Damage
  • GLA enhanced nerve function and reduced symptoms in over 100 diabetics with nerve damage in two clinical trials, notably those with well-controlled blood sugar. [6]

    The findings are promising but not enough to support the health benefits of gamma linolenic acid. To confirm these, more clinical trials with larger populations are required. [7]

  • 4. Weight Loss
  • GLA prevented the “yo-yo effect,” or regaining weight after quitting low-calorie diets, in clinical research involving 50 previously obese adults. [8]

    The evidence for GLA’s effect on weight loss is insufficient. There is a need for further clinical research. [9]

    Note that while GLA may help with weight loss, drastic results should not be expected.

  • 5. Acne
  • In a clinical trial involving 45 people with mild acne, GLA supplements reduced the severity of their acne. There is a need for more clinical trials. [10]

  • 6. Eczema
  • GLA may hydrate, soothe, and help repair irritated and damaged skin in people with acne and eczema when taken orally or applied directly to the problematic skin areas, but more research is needed.

    Though more researches are needed, here are some other benefits of Gamma Linolenic acid.

Currently, there is no recommended dosage for GLA in adults. However, GLA is safer when taken orally for a duration not exceeding 18 months in approved quantities. Long-term usage of GLA (roughly) 36 months is considered safe. In treating elevated cholesterol levels, up to 6 grams daily can be recommended. Doses of roughly 2.8 grams are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. [14]

Universal doses of GLA range between 500 and 1000 mg daily. Alternatively, GLA can be found as an intravenous formulation, although injections can only be taken out in the company of a competent physician or a pharmacist. GLA is not recommendable during pregnancy since there are no complete scientific researches.

Gamma Linolenic Acid Side Effects

Do not take GLA supplements if you are allergic or sensitive to them. But currently, there have been no recorded incidences of allergy or sensitivities. Since it is deemed harmless, GLA can be tolerated for up to 18 months.

Potential side effects include

  • Headaches,
  • Bloated stomach,
  • Belching,
  • Flatulence,
  • Nausea,
  • Loose stools
  • Vomiting.

GLA supplementation at high doses has been linked to higher levels of arachidonic acid. Long-term use of GLA can lead to changes in the blood, causing increased bleeding time.

Pregnant women should avoid using it due to the lack of safety information. Since GLA passes into breast milk, breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before using the supplement.

Gamma Linolenic Acid Supplementation

GLA supplements are available as pure GLA or seed oils from borage, evening primrose, and black currant. Oral supplements come as capsules or soft gels

GLA comes in a variety of topical forms, including:

  • Creams
  • Shampoos
  • Oils
  • Lotions
  • Eye drops

To avoid unforeseen interactions, consult your doctor before taking GLA supplements for any condition.

Interactions With Drugs

If you combine GLA with medications that enhance the risk of bleeding, your bleeding period may be prolonged. Aspirin, NSAIDs, anticoagulants, and antiplatelet medicines are examples of such medicines. GLA has been shown to improve the efficacy of several antibiotics in the treatment of a variety of bacterial illnesses. GLA, on the other hand, can alter the effects of some anti-cancer treatments, necessitating extra caution.

Gamma Linolenic Acid FAQ’s

Q: What is Gamma Linolenic Acid?

A: Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) that can be found in human milk and a variety of botanical seed oils. It is usually taken as a dietary supplement. [15]

Q: How Does Gamma Linolenic Acid Word?

A: Much of the GLA in supplements is converted to DGLA, which works as an anti-inflammatory substance. [16]

Q: What Does Gamma Linolenic Acid Do for the Skin?

A: GLA aids in the preservation of skin moisture and elasticity. It can also help with dermatitis. [17]

Q: Where is Gamma Linolenic Acid Gotten From?

A: This omega-6 acid can be gotten from black currant seed oil, evening primrose seed oil, and borage seed oil. A sufficient amount of GLA is found in breast milk.

Q: Is GLA Good for Hair?

A: GLA is thought to promote hair development. Fatty acids may aid in the reduction of inflammation and the improvement of hair health. [18]

Q: Where Can I Get Gamma Linolenic Acid?

A: GLA supplements are available through internet retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and others.

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Final Verdict

Regardless of why you want to take a Gamma linoleic acid supplement, you should first talk to your doctor or pharmacist about it. This is especially crucial if you are already taking medication for a medical condition. If there is a need, your doctor will be better positioned to counsel you differently or propose other options.

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18 Sources

We review published medical research in respected scientific journals to arrive at our conclusions about a product or health topic. This ensures the highest standard of scientific accuracy.

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[2] Barabino S, Rolando M, Camicione P, Ravera G, Zanardi S, Giuffrida S, Calabria G. Systemic linoleic and gamma-linolenic acid therapy in dry eye syndrome with an inflammatory component. Cornea. 2003 Mar;22(2):97-101. doi: 10.1097/00003226-200303000-00002. PMID: 12605039.
[3] Sheppard JD Jr, Singh R, McClellan AJ, Weikert MP, Scoper SV, Joly TJ, Whitley WO, Kakkar E, Pflugfelder SC. Long-term Supplementation With n-6 and n-3 PUFAs Improves Moderate-to-Severe Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca: A Randomized Double-Blind Clinical Trial. Cornea. 2013 Oct;32(10):1297-304. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e318299549c. PMID: 23884332.
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