- Benefits of GLA
- 8 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Skin & Body Benefits + Foods
- What Is GLA?
- Food Sources of GLA
- Gamma Linolenic Acid vs Conjugated Linoleic Acid
- How It Works
- 1) Dry Eye
- 2) Rheumatoid Arthritis
- 1) Diabetic Nerve Damage
- 2) Weight Loss
- Blood Pressure
- Clogged Arteries
- 5) Asthma
- 6) Cancer
- Hair Loss
- What Are the Health Benefits of Gamma-Linolenic Acid?
- The Effectiveness of GLA in Tropical Formulations for the Skin
- Natural Hair and Skin Care Tips
- Gamma Linolenic Acid
Benefits of GLA
Home | Blog + Podcast + Recipes | Articles & Videos | Benefits of GLA
By Alyssa O'Brien, RD, LD
May 1, 2017
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is a special type of fat in the omega-6 family. We need a proper balance of essential fatty acids from omega-6 in our body to thrive. Think of GLA as an activated form of omega-6 that nourishes your cells and decreases inflammation and without it, things don’t work properly.
What does that mean? It means getting the right amount of GLA can maintain youthful skin, working hormones, and an efficient metabolism. Even breast milk is full of essential fatty acids such as GLA but as we get older, we don’t have activated sources of GLA, breast milk, in our diet anymore.
For a more adult source of GLA, we are sharing that we can get GLA from evening primrose or borage seed oil. Phew, no breast milk for us!
GLA can be most effective for these three things:
- Skin – GLA promotes hydration and elasticity inside and out
- Weight – GLA potentiates fat loss and increases energy
- PMS & Menopause – GLA supports hormones and reduces inflammation
Skin: The integumentary system (skin, hair, nails, and glands) is your largest organ. It’s made up of countless cells that rely on essential fatty acid content of GLA to stay resilient and supple, inside and out. Cracking skin, dry hair and brittle nails may indicate you need more fats GLA.
If you’re dealing with dermatitis, you will be happy to know that GLA is an effective treatment for some. (1) The benefits don’t stop there; GLA helps maintain skin’s moisture and elasticity as we age. (2) Plus, beyond skin benefits, it might be surprising that some of our clients find GLA relieves incontinence or asthma.
In both cases, GLA supports the lining of the bladder and lungs to work better and stay flexible.
Weight: Simply put, your body needs the right kind of fats to lose fat. GLA is one of the right kinds to turn on your body’s fat burning network.
GLA makes a certain kind of prostaglandin (a fat that works a hormone) to activate the metabolism. (3) Through this messaging network, GLA revs up fat burning and boosts energy.
When working with clients, we often find that a lack of essential fatty acids, GLA, is a missing component to activating fat burning for weight loss.
PMS and Menopause: If you experience PMS or menopausal symptoms, it could be from hormonal imbalances or excess inflammation – maybe both. One safe solution is GLA. A deficiency of essential fatty acids GLA, contributes to the inflammation that makes symptoms worse.
Your body also needs GLA to make good quality, functioning hormones. Although more research is needed on this topic, after supplementing with GLA, some women report fewer symptoms ranging from decreased breast pain to improved moods.
Keeping your blood sugar low and taking the right dose of GLA may help to correct essential fatty acid imbalances associated with PMS and menopausal symptoms.
In our nutritional counseling, we have seen evening primrose oil to be helpful for younger women and borage oil for women after age thirty. Whichever form is right for you, an effective dose can range from 300-1000mg per day.
GLA is safe for teens and adults. For more specific information on your personal health history, consider coming in to talk with one of our nutritionist and dieticians to learn more.
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930832/2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18492193
3. Gittleman, Ann Louise. The New Fat Flush Plan. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2017
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8 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Skin & Body Benefits + Foods
Gamma-linoleic acid or GLA is among nature’s top beauty remedies. It’s an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid, famous for enhancing weight loss and soothing irritated skin. A number of traditionally-used herbs are rich in it. Read on to find out if GLA lives up to its reputation and how to get more of it from food.
What Is GLA?
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid mainly found in plant seeds. Although sometimes called essential, you don’t need to get it from food since your body can make it from linoleic acid [1+, 2+].
Researchers first discovered GLA in a North American plant (evening primrose) used by the natives as a food and remedy for laziness, obesity, piles, and boils. Early settlers took it to Europe, where it became a popular remedy known as “King’s cure-all” [3+].
The FDA doesn’t approve GLA for any conditions, but considers it generally recognized as safe (GRAS). GLA and oils containing it are mainly used for [4+]:
- Weight loss
- Eczema, acne, and skin care
- Inflammatory conditions
- Dry eyes
- Hair and nail care
Some people also recommend GLA for the following conditions, although evidence goes against them:
- PMS and menstrual breast pain [5, 6]
- Ulcerative colitis 
- ADHD 
- ARDS 
Food Sources of GLA
The body makes GLA from linoleic acid taken in through food. Most adults on a typical Western diet get enough linoleic acid from vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds [2+]:
However, some people have trouble converting linoleic acid to GLA, including the elderly and those with [2+]:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Inflammatory conditions
- Hormonal imbalances
- High blood pressure
- Excessive intake of trans fats and alcohol
If any of the above factors apply to you, getting more pure GLA might be a good idea.
GLA is found in small amounts in organ meat, especially liver, but its main sources are seed oils of [1+]:
- Borage (18-26% GLA)
- Black currant (15-20%)
- Evening primrose (7-10%)
- Hemp (3%)
Babies usually get enough fatty acids from breast milk, which contains both GLA (0.1-0.9%) and linoleic acid (6-17%) [10+].
Gamma Linolenic Acid vs Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Don’t confuse GLA with conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. Although it sounds similar, CLA is linoleic acid with different orientation in space. As such, it may have distinct health effects. CLA is found in meat and dairy products, but is better known as a weight-loss supplement for bodybuilders [11+, 12+].
How It Works
The body takes the linoleic acid obtained from food and turns it into GLA. Next, GLA is transformed into a longer molecule (DGLA), which is stored in cell membranes [2+].
DGLA stays in cell membranes until a signal triggers its release: inflammation, and an enzyme called phospholipase A2. The cue splits DGLA into two anti-inflammatory molecules: PGE1 and thromboxane A1 [13, 2+].
These two molecules block a long list of pro-inflammatory pathways and messengers (NF-kB, AP-1, ERK, JNK, IL-1beta, leukotrienes, arachidonic acid) [14, 15, 16].
1) Dry Eye
In 3 trials on over 150 people with pink eye, oral GLA (combined with other fatty acids and artificial tears) improved eye dryness and inflammation [17, 18, 19].
A similar treatment also including oral GLA was effective in 3 trials on 84 people with an autoimmune disease that causes dry eye (Sjögren’s syndrome) [20, 21, 22].
In another trial on 76 women, oral evening primrose oil improved eye dryness from contact lens use .
While promising, the evidence to claim that GLA helps with dry eye is still limited. These results should be replicated in larger, more robust clinical trials.
2) Rheumatoid Arthritis
Borage and black currant oil reduced joint inflammation, pain, and stiffness in 4 trials on almost 150 people with rheumatoid arthritis, but low doses of evening primrose oil were ineffective in 2 trials on 58 people [24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29].
GLA (from borage and evening primrose oil), fish oil (rich in EPA), and their combination reduced rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, painkiller use, and the risk of heart disease in 4 trials on almost 400 people [30, 31, 32, 33].
A meta-analysis concluded that GLA may reduce pain and disability in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis .
Again, the evidence to support the use of GLA in people with rheumatoid arthritis is promising but limited and includes a few studies with mixed results. Additional clinical research is required.
1) Diabetic Nerve Damage
In 2 clinical trials on over 100 diabetic people with nerve damage, GLA improved nerve function and reduced the symptoms, especially in those with controlled blood sugar [35, 36].
The results are promising but insufficient to back this health benefit. More clinical trials on larger populations are needed to confirm them.
2) Weight Loss
In a clinical trial on 50 formerly obese people, GLA prevented the “yo-yo effect,” or regaining weight after giving up low-calorie diets .
GLA promoted a slight weight loss in a clinical trial on 47 people, especially in those with obese parents. However, it failed to do so in another trial on 100 obese women who had unsuccessfully tried other remedies [38+, 39].
Taken together, the evidence supporting the role of GLA in weight loss is insufficient. Further clinical research is required.
GLA supplements reduced acne severity in a clinical trial on 45 people with mild acne .
It probably worked by blocking the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase, which transforms testosterone into the acne-stimulating dihydrotestosterone (DHT). GLA also inhibited an acne-causing microbe (Propionibacteriumacnes) [41, 42, 43].
The evidence to claim that GLA improves acne is insufficient. More clinical trials are needed.
In 11 clinical trials on almost 600 people with eczema, oral GLA restored a healthy fatty acid composition in the skin and reduced inflammation, itching, dryness, and rubbing damage. It also prevented the skin from dehydrating, helping to maintain the integrity and strength of the skin barrier [44+, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54].
However, it was ineffective in 5 trials on almost 600 people with eczema and failed to prevent flare-ups in 2 trials on over 200 children [55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 51, 60].
Even the results of meta-analyses are controversial: two concluded GLA doesn’t work, one found slight benefits for mild eczema, and one noticed the benefits weaken in people who also use steroids [61, 62, 63, 64].
Only 2 studies evaluated topical GLA. In a trial on 32 children, undershirts coated with borage oil reduced redness, itching, and skin dehydration in the back area. Borage oil also improved cradle cap – a type of scalp eczema in babies – and reduced skin dryness in a trial on 62 babies [65, 66].
Because the results are mixed, we cannot conclude for certain that GLA helps with eczema. More robust research is needed.
GLA combined with EPA and DHA (from fish oil) lowered blood pressure in 2 trials on over 100 people. The same combination prevented high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) in a trial on 150 women [67, 68].
However, GLA with EPA alone didn’t improve walking distance in those with cut-off leg blood flow and muscle cramps (intermittent claudication) .
In 2 small trials on 31 people, GLA lowered blood triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol, and platelet clumping. It was more effective in people with normal triglycerides or taken for at least 4 months [70, 71].
To sum up, very limited evidence suggests that GLA may help lower blood pressure and prevent clogged arteries. Further clinical research is needed to confirm this potential health benefit.
Evening primrose oil increased blood GLA and DGLA but had no effect on asthmatic symptoms in 2 trials on 41 people. In contrast, it helped as an add-on to asthma management programs in 3 trials on almost 100 people [72, 73, 74, 75, 76].
The existing evidence suggests that GLA may help only in combination with conventional therapies for asthma, but more clinical trials are needed.
In 3 small trials on 30 people with brain cancer, GLA infused directly into the brain slightly reduced tumor size and increased survival [77, 78, 79].
Oral GLA had no effect on survival or tumor size in a small trial on 15 people with liver cancer, but slightly improved liver function .
In a trial on 38 women with breast cancer, oral GLA improved the effectiveness of the anticancer drug tamoxifen .
Larger, more robust clinical trials are needed before we can conclude for certain that GLA has any value in anticancer therapy.
As previously described, GLA blocks the enzyme that makes DHT, a hormone that is also responsible for male-pattern baldness [41, 82+].
A liposomal lotion with elongated GLA (DGLA) and a compound from soybeans (equol) reduced hair loss in 60 people, more so in women .
GLA-containing rice bran extract promoted hair growth in mice. However, this extract is
What Are the Health Benefits of Gamma-Linolenic Acid?
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Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a type of fatty acid found in certain vegetable oils that is believed to have therapeutic properties. Classified as an omega-6 fatty acid, GLA is converted by the body into substances that fight inflammation and cell damage. Hemp seed oil, evening primrose oil, borage seed oil, and blackcurrant oil are among some of the highest sources of GLA.
In the body, GLA is a precursor of a compound known as prostaglandin. Prostaglandins are synthesized at the site of an infection or injury whose role it is to mediate inflammation and pain as part of the healing process.
Some people believe that these properties can prevent or treat certain diseases or work in complement to other drugs to alleviate symptoms. Available as a dietary supplement, GLA can also be found in significant quantities in oats, barley, spirulina, and hemp seeds.
Practitioners of alternative medicine believe that gamma-linolenic acid can improve overall health by reducing the level of inflammatory proteins, known as cytokines, in the body. Cytokines are essential to triggering inflammation, a natural immune response used to neutralize infections and heal injuries.
However, if cytokine levels persistent—as can happen with obesity, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, and other chronic disorders—the unrelenting inflammation can cause progressive damage to cells and tissues.
In alternative medicine, GLA is believed to prevent or treat a wide range of unrelated health conditions, including:
Few of these claims are strongly supported by research. Furthermore, most of the current research involves the use of primrose oil or borage oil rather than GLA supplements.
With that being said, there have been some promising finding Here is some of what the current research says.
According to a 2014 study published in Advances in Therapy, a 4-gram to 6-gram dose of evening primrose oil taken daily decreased the severity and recurrence of atopic dermatitis in 21 adults after 12 weeks of use. Higher doses conferred to better results, with 6 grams of primrose oil delivering no less than 480 milligrams of GLA per day.
While promising, the conclusions were somewhat by the lack of a control group (a matched set of participants provided a placebo). Further research is needed.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune form of arthritis characterized by persistent inflammation and the progressive damage of joints and other tissues. It is believed that, by tempering the underlying autoimmune inflammation, GLA may reduce the progression or severity of the disease.
According to the 2014 study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the daily use of borage oil (on its own or with fish oil) reduced the need for disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
The 18-month trial involved 150 adults with rheumatoid arthritis who were assigned a daily dose of either borage oil capsules (corresponding to 1.8 grams of GLA), fish oil capsules, or both. At the end of the study period, all three groups responded positively to therapy, with marked reductions in both disease activity and DMARD use.
Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve disorder characterized by painful pins-and-needles sensations. The condition is caused by the persistent inflammation associated with diabetes which gradually wears away the outer insulating membrane of nerve cells (called the myelin sheath).
According to 2007 study in the Journal of Nutrition, mice with chemically-induced diabetes experienced better nerve function (including nerve signal velocity and blood flow to nerve cells) when given GLA for eight weeks compared to mice given docosahexaenoic acid found in fish oil. (Fish oil is a common complementary therapy for people with early-stage diabetic neuropathy.)
Interestingly, lower doses of GLA corresponded to better results. If the results can be replicated in humans, it could provide the means to prevent a neurological condition that affects one in four people with type 2 diabetes.
Borage oil and primrose oil have both been used for centuries to treat menopause symptoms. There is some evidence, albeit slight, of such benefits.
According to a 2013 study in Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin, female rats that were ovariectomized (had their ovaries removed) experience vaginal cornification after receiving GLA supplements for 21 days. Vaginal cornification occurs when rising levels of estrogen cause surface cells to become larger and flatter as part of the menstrual cycle.
This indicates that GLA has estrogen- effects and suggests that GLA supplements may alleviate symptoms of menopause by overcoming low estrogen levels.
Further research is needed to establish whether the same dose used in rats—10 milligrams per kilograms per day—might trigger the same effect in menopausal women. (For a 100-pound woman, that would translate to roughly 550 milligrams per day.)
Gamma-linolenic acid is generally considered safe for use. Doses of 1,800 milligrams (mg) per day have been used in adults for 18 months with few notable side effects. GLA has also been studied in children as young as seven.
Common side effects include belching, flatulence, soft stools, and diarrhea, particularly when first starting treatment. Symptoms tend to be mild and gradually resolve on their own as the body adapts to treatment. Persistent symptoms can usually be relieved by reducing the dose.
Due to its estrogen- effects, GLA supplements should be avoided during pregnancy at they may increase the risk of miscarriage. The safety of GLA in babies and younger children has also not been established. As such, it best to avoid GLA while breastfeeding or in children under 7.
Avoid any GLA supplement containing borage oil if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Borage oil contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are contraindicated in pregnancy due to the risk of birth defects.
You should also avoid GLA is you have diarrhea or any condition characterized by chronic diarrhea, such as diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D).
Gamma-linolenic acid is known to slow blood-clotting and may amplify the effects of blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) and Plavix (clopidogrel), causing easy bruising and bleeding. Stop taking GLA supplements at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery to avoid excessive bleeding.
Taking GLA with phenothiazines used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may cause spontaneous seizures. Avoid GLA if you are taking Mellaril (thioridazine), Prolixin (fluphenazine), Stelazine (trifluoperazine), Thorazine (chlorpromazine), or any other phenothiazine-class antipsychotic.
To avoid interactions, always advise your doctor about any medications you are taking, whether they are prescription, over-the-counter, nutritional, herbal, or recreational.
Most GLA supplements are available as soft gelatin capsules with doses ranging from 240 milligrams to 300 milligrams per capsule.
There are no universal guidelines for the appropriate use of gamma-linolenic acid. Dosages of up to 1,800 milligrams have been used safely for us up to 18 months in adults.
This shouldn't suggest that everyone needs such high doses or that lower doses are any less effective than higher ones. As a rule of thumb, start with the lowest possible dose and increase gradually week-on-week as tolerated.
If taking GLA supplements for a specific health concern, let your doctor know so that you can be monitored for side effects or interactions. Doing so also allows you to discuss other treatments that may be more appropriate for you as an individual.
Dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the United States, making it hard to know which brands are good and which fall short. To better ensure quality and safety, opt for brands that have been voluntarily submitted for testing by an independent certifying body the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Buying GLA supplements can often be confusing since the milligrams listed on the product label do not always correspond to the amount of GLA in the supplement.
For example, a product labeled “borage oil concentration GLA 1,000 mg” doesn't necessarily mean that there are 1,000 milligrams of GLA in each capsule. Check the ingredient label; more often than not, it means that there are 1,000 milligrams of borage oil corresponding to around 240 mg of GLA.
Always read the ingredient panel to ascertain how much GLA is delivered per capsule in milligrams (mg) and not percentages.
If you are strictly vegetarian or vegan, check that the gelcap is made with a vegetable-based gelatin rather than one derived from beef or pork cartilage.
Most GLA supplements can be stored safely at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Keep the supplements away from direct sunlight, which can oxidize the fatty acids, and dispose of any gelcaps that are leaking or misshapen. Never use a supplement after its expiration date.
How is gamma-linolenic acid different from linoleic acid?
Most omega-6 fatty acids are derived from vegetable oils in the form of linoleic acid (LA). Once ingested, your body converts the LA to GLA, which is then converted into arachidonic acid and broken down into prostaglandins.
When reading a product label, do not confuse linoleic acid with gamma-linolenic acid. The amount of linoleic acid in each capsule is no indication of the amount of gamma-linolenic acid your body will render during metabolization.
Generally speaking, only GLA supplements will provide with you the exact amount of gamma-linolenic acid in milligrams per dose.
The Effectiveness of GLA in Tropical Formulations for the Skin
The essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) from borage and other oils has been shown to be one of the most effective agents for the treatment of skin disorders and for the maintenance of healthy skin. The fatty acid profile of borage is unique in that it contains 20 to 24 percent GLA. Evening primrose oil contains 8 to 10 percent GLA and black currant oil contains 15 to 17 percent.
The popularity of borage oil as an ingredient in topical formulations for the skin is growing rapidly, the strong research showing that it is of benefit in the treatment of various skin conditions, including dry skin, eczema, inflammation, wounds, and dermatitis.
Role of GLA in the skin
Healthy skin depends on adequate amounts of lipid, in particular certain polyunsaturated fatty acids called essential fatty acids (EFAs), for moisture, suppleness and smoothness as well as to prevent skin disorders.
1 The most important polyunsaturated fatty acids for maintenance of healthy skin and for the alleviation of skin disorders are the essential fatty acids of the omega-6 family, namely linoleic acid (LA) and GLA.
Dietary deficiency of these fatty acids results in a characteristic scaly skin disorder, increased epidermal turnover rate, weak cutaneous capillaries that rupture easily, decreased wound healing and increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL) leading to xerosis (dry skin).
Dry skin is the most common skin condition and is especially common in the elderly. By the age of 80 years, the epidermis may lose as much as 50% of its thickness, which accelerates water loss. Dry skin also exacerbates many other skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis.
Many skin disorders may be due to disorders in processing essential fatty acids. In particular, the conversion of linoleic acid (LA) to GLA, via the action of a critical enzyme known as the delta-6-desaturase (D6D) enzyme, may be blocked.
This leads to insufficient GLA being formed in the body. Both LA and GLA are critical for healthy skin since they are structural components of cell membranes where they ensure fluidity and stability.
The proper functioning of the cells of the skin depend upon healthy membranes since they act as “gate-keepers” which maintains epidermal barrier function that keeps moisture locked in while keeping toxins out. This reduces the irritancy caused by skin-irritating noxious substances.
Thus, EFAs help to ensure the integrity of the epidermal layer of the skin, maintain the skin water barrier system and regulate moisture loss.
GLA is also the precursor for potent, short-lived, hormone- compounds called eicosanoids, such as prostaglandin E1, which helps modulate normal skin physiologic processes by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation, as well as reducing water loss.
Relationship of GLA status to Healthy Skin and Skin Disorders
Disorders and problems such as atopic dermatitis or eczema, dry skin, psoriasis, increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and impaired epidermal barrier function is associated with deficiencies in GLA.
2,3 Direct dietary supplementation of GLA is often required to ensure that adequate level of GLA and PGE1 occurs.
Both oral and topical administration of GLA has been effective in reducing the symptoms of a large number of skin disorders including dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and acne as well as reducing redness and erythema due to UV radiation and improving healing of wounds.
Topical Administration of Borage Oil
The topical administration of borage oil has been shown to be very effective in preventing and treating inflammatory conditions and skin disorders such as eczema and dermatitis in both animals and humans.3,4 Diezel and co-workers found that artificially induced inflammation was inhibited on mouse skin through the topical administration of borage oil.
5 Borage oil was found to be more effective than other oils such as evening primrose oil and olive oil. Elias has reported that a gel containing 1.5% borage oil significantly reduced the TEWL of the skin of hairless mice maintained on EFA deficient diets.6 The effect was progressive, with an initial decrease of 27.3% in TEWL to a 67.
8% reduction after four daily applications.
Natural Hair and Skin Care Tips
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- Body, Mind & Spirit
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Thinning hair? Dandruff? Dry skin? Use these gentle, natural ideas to optimize the health of your hair and skin.
Preventing and Reversing Hair Loss
Taming Inflamed Follicles
Dandruff? Try these Remedies
Is Gamma Linolenic Acid in Your Beauty Routine?
Thinning Hair Help
Trying Black Currant Oil
1. Preventing and Reversing Hair Loss
Hair loss isn’t just a male problem – many women experience it as well. There are a variety of factors that could play a part in female hair loss:
- Damaging effects of hair treatments or styling
- Twisting or pulling your hair
- Prescription drugs such as blood thinners and medications for gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems and high blood pressure
- Thyroid disease
- Iron deficiency. (Do not take iron unless you’ve been tested and your doctor has recommended a supplement – it can do more harm than good if you don’t need it.)
The good news is there are some nutritional changes you can make that may help prevent further loss and encourage re-growth. Try the following:
- Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Try to eat salmon (preferable wild Alaskan salmon), sardines, herring or mackerel two or three times a week. Or, sprinkle two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds per day on your cereal or salads, or eat walnuts.
- Supplement your diet with the essential omega-6 fatty acid called GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) in the form of black currant oil or evening primrose oil, available in capsules or soft gels at health food stores. Take 500 mg of either twice a day. Be patient with this one. You won’t see results for six to eight weeks.
2. Taming Inflamed Follicles
Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles, those tiny pits in the skin from which hair grows. Usually, the inflammation is due to an infection with staphylococcus bacteria or a fungus. It isn’t unusual for folliculitis to occur on the scalp, and it can also develop on the arms, in the armpits, or on the legs.
Chronic skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis can put you at risk for folliculitis, as can diabetes, tight clothing, living in unsanitary conditions, and heat and humidity. There’s also a more severe form of folliculitis that comes from using hot tubs that haven’t been properly disinfected. Known as “hot tub folliculitis,” this condition can be painful and resistant to treatment.
Common folliculitis is treated with over-the-counter antibiotic ointments applied to the affected area, but if the area is large, you may need an oral antibiotic.
Shampooing frequently is also recommended in order to prevent recurrences of scalp folliculitis. Look for shampoo made with tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), a great germicidal and antibacterial agent which can also used to treat fungal infections of the skin.
In addition, I recommend supplementing your diet with GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids. GLA, an essential fatty acid which is hard to come by in the diet, promotes healthy growth of skin, hair and nails.
The best sources are evening primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil, taken in capsules as dietary supplements.
You can increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, fortified eggs, freshly ground flaxseeds or walnuts, or taking a fish oil supplement.
You might also try hypnotherapy, which can be very effective for skin conditions. Look for a hypnotherapist with experience in dealing with these disorders.
3. Dandruff? Try these Remedies
Dandruff – flakes of dry skin on the scalp – can be bothersome and possibly embarrassing. Caused by eczema or seborrhea, it is often linked to climate and genetic factors, not poor grooming habits (as many people think).
There are simple measures you can take to treat dandruff:
- Use a gentle, non-drying shampoo or a tar shampoo daily or every other day until the dandruff goes away, then only about twice a week.
- To restore moisture to your skin and hair, supplement your diet with black currant oil or evening primrose oil. These provide an unusual fatty acid called GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), which promotes the healthy growth of skin and hair. Try doses of 500 mg twice a day; after six to eight weeks, when you start to see improvement, cut the dose in half.
- Use freshly ground flaxseeds or fish oils in the form of sardines or wild Alaskan salmon. These excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids should help with flaking. Visit your dermatologist to be sure that your dandruff is not from an underlying scalp disease or skin infection.
4. Is Gamma Linolenic Acid in Your Beauty Routine?
Want healthy skin, hair and nails? Try taking the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA).
This essential fatty acid offers a wide range of benefits, from acting as an effective anti-inflammatory agent (with none of the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs) to promoting the healthy growth of skin, hair and nails.
GLA can also be used effectively for other conditions such as brittle nails and hair, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and premenstrual syndrome.
Unfortunately, GLA is hard to come by in the diet, so supplements may be necessary. Three good, natural sources are evening primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil. Each comes in capsule form, and vary in the amount of GLA they supply as well as in their cost.
Do not expect immediate results when taking GLA: it takes six to eight weeks to see changes after adding GLA to the diet.
5. Thinning Hair Help
It is not unusual for women to experience thinning hair as they age, especially when hormonal changes caused by menopause come into play. If you are experiencing thinning hair (also known as female pattern baldness) or hair loss, keep the following in mind:
- The effects of hair-care treatments or styling, as well as the habit of twisting or pulling your hair, can cause hair loss or thinning.
- Certain prescription drugs (blood thinners and medications used to treat gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems and high blood pressure) can cause hair shedding that might be mistaken for thinning.
- Thyroid disease may be a factor. Speak with your doctor about a thyroid test; appropriate treatment often results in hair re-growth.
- Diet may be an issue. To maintain healthy hair and help prevent further loss, make sure you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids. Eat salmon, sardines, herring or mackerel two or three times a week, or sprinkle two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds per day on cereal or salads. Supplement your diet with GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) in the form of black currant oil or evening primrose oil. Take 500 mg of either twice a day for six to eight weeks to see if it helps.
6. Trying Black Currant Oil
Black-Currant Oil (Ribes nigrum), is oil pressed from black currant seeds. It is a natural source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that may help lessen a variety of symptoms, including those associated with:
- Autoimmune disorders (including lupus, eczema, and psoriasis)
- Hair problems including dryness, brittleness, thinning, or splitting
- Nail problems such as weak or brittle nails
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Inflammatory disorders
Available as gel caps, look for capsules containing at least 45 mg of GLA. Avoid topical oil preparations. Adults can take 500 mg, twice per day, and children should take half this amount.
Gamma Linolenic Acid
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- Gamma Linolenic Acid
Gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, is a polyunsaturated fat belonging to the omega-6 family of fatty acids.
It is unique in this family because, while we normally consider the omega-6s to be pro-inflammatory, GLA actually helps to modulate inflammation and has been used for a wide variety of health conditions.
Although our bodies can make GLA from linoleic acid, the parent of the omega-6 family of fatty acids, this conversion is not always efficient and the process can easily be overburdened by a diet too high in processed and damaged omega-6 fats ( corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and cottonseed oils). The riches sources of GLA are the seed oils of borage, evening primrose, black currant and eschium.1
GLA’s wide-ranging benefits are largely due to the fact that it is a precursor to series-1 prostaglandins and in particular to prostaglandin E1. Prostaglandins are powerful hormone- chemicals that affect many functions in the body, including the inflammatory response.
The series-1 prostaglandins help keep our blood flowing smoothly, relax blood vessels and improve circulation. They help insulin work better and support nerve health and our immune systems. And in perhaps their best-known role, they modulate inflammation throughout the body and help slow the production of series-2 prostaglandins, which tend to be pro-inflammatory.
2 To make series-1 prostaglandins, the body, using enzymes, converts GLA first into dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) and then into series-1 prostaglandins. Since DGLA can also be converted into the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid (AA), getting adequate EPA (an omega-3 fatty acid found in cold water fish) is important.
EPA helps to slow the conversion of DGLA to AA, thereby making more DGLA available for conversion to the more beneficial prostaglandin E1. 3
GLA intake has been associated with improvements in a whole host of both acute and chronic inflammatory conditions.
4 In one study, Rheumatoid arthritis patients taking GLA for six months experienced statistically significant improvements in the signs and symptoms of their disease.
5 In another study, patients with inflammatory Dry Eye Syndrome experienced a reduction in ocular surface inflammation and an improvement in their symptoms after taking GLA for 45 days.
6 GLA, along with omega-3 supplementation, has even been shown to support the healing of professional athletes with inflammatory overuse injuries and of weekend warriors a.7 As a series-1 prostaglandin precursor, its inflammation-modulating effects are wide reaching.
Fatty acids are essential for healthy skin, as they help to form a barrier to protect the skin from moisture loss. Several studies have linked fatty acid intake, including that of GLA, with healthy skin.
In one such study, participants taking 500 mg of GLA three times a day for 12 weeks showed significant improvements in skin moisture, water loss, elasticity, firmness and roughness.8 GLA’s effect on skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema has also been the subject of many studies.
Overall the results have been mixed, although nearly all studies show at least some improvement, and its use in such conditions is ly to be beneficial as part of a broader nutritional supplementation routine.9
GLA has a real affinity for women and their hormones. An excess of proinflammatory prostaglandins, produced from too many bad fats and not enough good ones in the diet, is associated with a worsening of many PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness and painful menstruation.
In one trial, 97% of women taking GLA for six months reported a reduction in cyclical breast tenderness. GLA may also help to stimulate serotonin production, which may help to balance out the blues many women experience as a result of their monthly cycle.
As women leave their childbearing years and make the transition into post-menopause, GLA continues to be an ally.
Supplementation with GLA has been found to positively influence many of the symptoms associated with this transitional phase, including night-time flushes, breast pain, inflammation, fluid retention, depression and irritability, and skin wrinkling.
The prostaglandins produced from GLA are thought to play a major role in metabolism. One aspect in particular is their effects on brown adipose tissue (BAT), which is a particular type of insulating fat found around the organs.
BAT is very metabolically active, burning many calories and boosting metabolism when it is active. The prostaglandins formed from GLA are believed to turn on BAT. These same prostaglandins are connected to the processes that balance sodium and potassium within the cells.
A proper sodium to potassium ratio in the cells not only reduces water retention, but also helps to rev up the metabolism.
As a normal part of human metabolism GLA appears to be well tolerated and has been used safely in human studies involving participants of all ages. Most supplemental GLA comes from evening primrose, borage or black currant seed oil.
The source of the GLA appears to be less important than the overall amount of GLA. GLA content can vary greatly among brands, so be sure to check the label for the amount of GLA per serving, instead of just relying on the total weight of the capsule.
In The Inflammation Syndrome, Jack Challem recommends 100-200 mg of GLA daily for most people. Up to 600 mg a day may be beneficial for short term use when addressing an acute inflammatory condition; studies on more chronic and severe inflammatory conditions have used 1,400-2,800 mg a day.
12 Remember that the omega-3 fish oils work well with GLA and the effects are ly to be greater when the two are combined.