In recent years borage seed oil has gained much attention by alternative health practitioners and the medical establishment for its medicinal properties. Borage oils active component, gamma linoleic acid (GLA), has had extensive research done. Studies dating as far back as 1940 have shown GLA to benefit your health. But back in the 1940’s most of the research was done on primrose oil, now a day’s borage oil gives you more GLA for your buck making borage the oil of choice for most consumers. Other sources of GLA are black current seed oil and spirulina.
Why should one supplement GLA?
In a healthy body, GLA can be produced from linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is found in omega 6 family of oils, such as corn, safflower, and sunflower oil. Americans eat approximately ten times more omega 6 than omega 3 and most nutritionists agree that a 1:1 ratio is needed for optimal health. Some individuals don’t have the ability to convert linoleic acid to GLA and this is why supplementation is needed.
The foods produced today use hydrolyzed oils, that’s the conversion of polyunsaturated oils into semi-solid altered saturated fats like margarine used in commercial food production. Oils are hydrogenated and converted to a semi-solid oil by heating the oil to 250 degrees C and pumping hydrogen gas through the oil in the presence of the heavy metal nickel, this makes an irreversible change in the chemical structure of the oil from a healthy “CIS” oil to a harmful “TRANS” oil. With the over consumption of tans fatty acids in today’s diet, in some cases has shown to block the enzymatic conversion of linoleic acid to GLA this could mean a large portion of the American population can not convert Linoleic acid to GLA.
Those who are afflicted with diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and alcoholism should consider supplementing GLA. These individuals lack the ability to convert linoleic acid to GLA as well. GLA can help regulate hormones in the body and those who have the above afflictions might have a hormone deficiency, also excess consumption of animal fat can block GLA’s action by competing with the same metabolic pathways that GLA inhabit and thus reduce the biological action of GLA so limit your intake of meats high in animal fat.
Just as the body can convert linoleic acid to GLA, GLA converts to prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), a key hormonal regulator in the body. PGE1 has been shown to control arterial muscle tone, help the kidneys excrete sodium, help prevent blood platelet stickiness, and fight an inflammatory response in the body and boost immune function. The list will continue to grow as researchers continue to discover new benefits of GLA in the body. PGE1 can be beneficial in the treatment and relief of the following disease: diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and multiple sclerosis by bringing about a balance in the faulty fatty acid metabolism in these individuals.
Research has shown GLA can help reverse diabetic neuropathy a condition where the nerves degenerate and symptoms of pain and numbness follow. Other conditions that may benefit from GLA supplementation is high blood pressure, high cholesterol, skin conditions, arthritis, allergies, weight loss, improved behavior like hyper activity in children, and improved hair and nail strength. Given the ability of PGE1 to regulate hormones, GLA may be effective in reducing menstrual pain in women with sever camps during their monthly cycle.
Now let’s look at the best source of GLA that’s available on the market. The three listed were borage oil, primrose oil, and black current seed oil. Borage oil has 24% GLA per 1000mg of oil that’s 240mg of GLA per pill, primrose oil has 18% GLA per 1000mgs that’s 180mg of GLA per pill, and Black current seed oil has 10% GLA per 1000mgs that’s 100mg of GLA per pill. When looking for a good GLA oil, make sure you look on the label for 100% hexane free, make sure the bottle blocks sunlight because sunlight can damage the oils, do not buy any oil that does not disclose the method of extraction on the label.
1. Fats and Oils, Udo Erasmus (alive: vancouver 1986) 2. Fat Nutrition and Health, R. Erdmann (Thorsons, England 1990) 3. Reversing Diabetes, J. Whitaker (warner, USA, 1987) 4. Healing Fats, Killing Fats, Udo Erasmus (1990) 5. Beyond Pritkin, A.L. Gittleman (bantam, USA 1988) 6. 7. omega-3 Phenomenon, D. Ruden & C. Felix (Avon, 1987) 8. evening promrose oil, j. graham (Healing arts, 1984) 9. Treatment of Diabetic Neuropathy with Gamma-Linoleic acid, H. Keen & J. Payen(Diabetes care 16 (1):8-15, 1993) 10. Townsend letter for Doctors, Phytotherapy Review and Commentary, Evening Primrose Oil for Diabetic Neuropathy, D. Brown (1993).
The statements in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease please consult your health care physician before discontinuing medication or introducing supplements into your diet.