Gamma Linolenic Acid: Recommendations, Side Effects and Interactions

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Aug 25, 2014 | Last Updated: Sep 27, 2018

Gamma Linolenic Acid

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) refers to a fatty substance plant seed oils from sources such as borage oil and evening primrose oil. It is used for medicinal purposes. It treats skin conditions such as systemic sclerosis, psoriasis and eczema. Also, gamma linolenic acid alleviates symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, oral polyps, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetic nerve pain, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, postnatal depression, chronic fatigue and hay fever.

How it Works?

As an omega 6 fatty acid, gamma linolenic acid helps your body to convert to substances that not only promote the growth of the cells, but also reduce inflammation


Currently, there is no proven dosage for GLA in adults. However, GLA is safer when taken orally for a period not exceeding 18 months in recommended doses. Long-term use of GLA (approximately) 36 months is considered safe. In treating high cholesterol levels, up to 6 grams daily can be recommended. Doses of about 2.8 grams are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Universal dosages of GLA range between 500 and 1000 milligrams daily. Alternatively, GLA can be found as a intravenous preparation although injections can only be carried out in the presence of a qualified physician or a pharmacist. GLA is not recommendable during pregnancy since there are no comprehensive scientific researches.

Side Effects

Do not take GLA supplements if you are allergic or sensitive to it. But currently, there have been no reported cases of allergies or hypersensitivity. Since it is considered nontoxic, you can tolerate GLA up to 18 months. Potential side effects include bloated stomach, belching, flatulence, nausea and vomiting. High levels of GLA supplementation has been reported to produce increased levels of arachidonic acid. Long-term use can lead to changes in the blood causing increased bleeding time.

Interactions with Drugs

If you take GLA along with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding, your bleeding time can become extended. Such drugs include aspirin, anticoagulants, NSAIDS, and anti-platelet. GLA can increase the efficiency of some antibiotic drugs, against a host of bacterial infections. However, GLA can alter the effects of some anti-cancer treatments, calling the need for extra caution.


On whichever grounds that you opt to try Gamma lenolic acid supplement, it is crucial to first discuss it with your health care giver or a pharmacist. This is very important especially if you are already under medication for a medical reason. Your physician will be in a better position to advise otherwise, if there is need, or suggest better alternatives.

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