What is GLA? (Also known as Gamma Linolenic Acid)
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 unsaturated essential fatty acid. made in the human body from linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid found in vegetable oils and egg yolks.
Where Does GLA Come From?
GLA can be made in the body from its parent fatty acid, linolenic acid. Otherwise, it can be found in a range of oils, namely, borage oil, black current oil and evening primrose oil.
GLA is primarily known for its anti-inflammatory properties, particularly in regard to the chronic skin condition atopic dermatitiseczema. Numerous studies have reviews have proven the beneficial effects of supplemental GLA in reducing the severity of dry and inflamed skin associated with eczema1-6. Other benefits of GLA include improved nerve function in diabetic neuropathy7, dry eye syndrome8 and rheumatoid arthritis9, 10. Other conditions for which GLA has been recommended include, mastalgia, premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms, however, the evidence to support GLA use in these conditions is more contentious11, 12.
Negative Side Effects of GLA
There are no known negative side effects of GLA.
GLA Recommended Dosages & Timing
GLA is most commonly supplemented anywhere between 100mg and 1500mg per day.
GLA is most commonly sold as an active constituent of evening primrose oil or borage oil. Sometimes evening primrose oil is combined with fish oil to provide both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the one supplement.
GLA is most commonly combined with fish oil.
There are no strict contraindications or precautions when taking GLA.1. Kawamura A, et al. Dietary supplementation of gamma-linolenic acid improves skin parameters in subjects with dry skin and mild atopic dermatitis. J Oleo Sci. 2011;60(12):597-607.
2. Foster RH, et al. Borage oil in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Nutrition. 2010;26(7-8):708-718.
3. Senapati S, et al. Evening primrose oil is effective in atopic dermatitis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2008;74(5):447-452.
4. Schalin-Karrila M, et al. Evening primrose oil in the treatment of atopic eczema: effect on clinical status, plasma phospholipid fatty acids and circulating blood prostaglandins. Br J Dermatol. 1987;117(1):11-19.
5. Kanehara S, et al. Clinical effects of undershirts coated with borage oil on children with atopic dermatitis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Dermatol. 2007;34(12):811-815.
6. Morse NL, Clough PM. A meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials of Efamol evening primrose oil in atopic eczema. Where do we go from here in light of more recent discoveries? Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2006;7(6):503-524.
7. Horrobin DF. Essential fatty acids in the management of impaired nerve function in diabetes. Diabetes. 1997;46(Suppl 2):S90-93.
8. Barabino S, et al. Systemic linoleic and gamma-linolenic acid therapy in dry eye syndrome with an inflammatory component. Cornea. 2003;22(2):97-101.
9. Brzeski M, et al. Evening primrose oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and side-effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Br J Rheumatol. 1991;30(5):370-372.
10. Belch JJ, Hill A. Evening primrose oil and borage oil in rheumatologic conditions. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(1 Suppl):352S-356S.
11. Stonemetz D. A review of the clinical efficacy of evening primrose. Holist Nurs Pract. 2008 May-Jun;22(3):171-174.
12. Chenoy R, et al. Effect of oral gamolenic acid from evening primrose oil on menopausal flushing. BMJ. 1994;308(6927):501-503.