Gamma Linolenic Acid

Gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, is part of the omega-6 family, but it behaves more like an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid. GLA is found in seeds, and nearly all supplemental forms are derived from borage, evening primrose, or black currant seeds. It constitutes about 20 percent of borage seed oil, 15 to 19 percent of black currant seed oil, and 9 percent of evening primrose seed oil. If you have been consuming vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, or soy, do not assume that your body has been converting its linoleic acid to GLA. Foods high in these oils are often high in trans fatty acids, which interfere with the conversion process.

As with fish oil EPA and DHA supplements, GLA supplements leapfrog several steps and quickly raise blood levels of GLA. GLA boosts production of DGLA, the immediate precursor of prostaglandin E1, which suppresses inflammation.

Several human trials have found GLA supplements to greatly benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis; they also seem to help restore more normal immune responses. In one investigation, Robert Zurier, M.D., of the University of Massachusetts at Worcester, treated thirty-seven patients with rheumatoid arthritis and inflamed joints. He gave them either 1.4 grams of GLA or placebos daily. After twenty-four weeks both physicians and patients noted significant reductions in symptoms. The number of tender joints among patients taking GLA was reduced by 36 percent, and the overall score on tests measuring tender joints declined by 45 percent. In addition, the number of swollen joints decreased by 28 percent, and the patients' overall score for swollen joints fell by 41 percent. Some people benefited far more than did others, but that is frequently the case with nutritional supplements. It is likely that better responses would have occurred with a broader supplement regimen, but the study was designed to test GLA only.

In another study Zurier doubled the dosage of GLA, giving fifty-six patients either 2.8 grams daily of the supplement or placebos for six months. This higher dosage resulted in significant improvements—at least a 25 percent improvement in four of eight measures of rheumatoid arthritis severity. For a second six-month period, Zurier gave GLA to all of the patients, and improvements were noted across the board. The group originally given GLA continued to improve over the course of a year, with more than three-fourths of the patients benefiting from improvements in their arthritis symptoms.

Arthritis Joint Pain

Arthritis Joint Pain

Arthritis is a general term which is commonly associated with a number of painful conditions affecting the joints and bones. The term arthritis literally translates to joint inflammation.

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