Comphensive Guide to Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils HTML version

Meschino Health Comprehensive Guide to Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils
Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils
Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
General Features
Evening primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil contain Gamma-Linolenic Acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid.
Gamma-Linolenic Acid is a precursor in the synthesis of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), which is known to have anti-
inflammatory properties.1 Thus, Gamma-Linolenic supplementation has been used in the treatment of rheumatoid
arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.2
The body can synthesize Gamma-Linolenic Acid from linolenic acid (found in many vegetable oils), however people
with certain conditions appear to have a defect in the delta-6 desaturase enzyme that converts linolenic acid (LA) to
Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA). Patients with premenstrual syndrome, diabetes, scleroderma, Sjogren’s Syndrome,
Tardive Dyskinesia, eczema, and other skin conditions tend to have this metabolic block and research demonstrates
that supplementation with a medicinal oil, rich in GLA, has helped people with these conditions.
Furthermore, the delta-6 desaturase enzyme requires vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc as cofactors to convert LA to
Suboptimal status of these micronutrients also impairs the conversion of LA to GLA, as does the presence of trans-
fatty acids and alcohol in the diet.3-15
There is also evidence that an excess intake of LA stimulates conversion of GLA to arachidonic acid via the delta-5
desaturase enzyme. Arachidonic acid is proinflammatory and contributes to cardiovascular risk and other health
Nevertheless, supplementation with oils that contain Gamma-Linolenic Acid have shown them to be of benefit for
certain conditions.11-15
As a general reference, evening primrose oil contains 9 percent Gamma-Linolenic Acid, borage seed oil is 22 percent
GLA and black currant seed oil is 22 percent GLA and also contains 13 percent omega-3 fatty acids as alpha-linolenic
Supplementation Studies and Clinical Application
1. Diabetic Neuropathy
Supplementation with Gamma-Linolenic acid-containing oil has been shown to help repair diabetic neuropathy and
prevent nerve damage in diabetics as evidenced by placebo-controlled studies.
Objective parameters, including nerve conduction studies, sensation and reflex testing were used to verify the
neurological improvement. Diabetics have a decreased ability to convert LA to GLA, which is important for nerve
cell membrane structure and impulse conduction. Supplementation of oils yielding as little as 240 to 480 mg of
GLA have shown proven benefit in the prevention and treatment of diabetic neuropathy.17
2. Arthritis and Joint Inflammatory Diseases
Some studies have demonstrated that supplementation with evening primrose oil or black currant oil can
significantly reduce symptoms and signs of rheumatoid arthritis in double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized
Other studies have failed to show improvement and researchers attribute this failure to the ability of GLA to raise
tissue levels of arachidonic acid, while reducing cell membrane concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. In these