GLA stands for gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid. GLA belongs to the omega 6 category of fats – if you have been reading this column, you already know that Americans get too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3 and omega 9. GLA’s are the exception – we actually consume very little of them and with certain conditions supplementing GLA is extremely beneficial.
GLA is an important fatty acid for several reasons. It is anti-inflammatory; it is a hormone precursor; and it boosts metabolism. Supplemental sources of GLA are evening primrose, borage and black currant seed oil. I take a blend of the three because they each act a little differently in the body.
For its anti-inflammatory properties, GLA has been used successfully in rheumatoid arthritis. It is also helpful in chronic skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. GLA is also beneficial for those with cardiovascular disease because it reduces platelet aggregation and therefore clotting and also tends to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. GLA is also beneficial for allergies and asthma.
As a hormone precursor, GLA is excellent at reducing PMS symptoms and along with hot flashes and other menopausal issues – meaning it is a hormone balancer for all ages. GLA in the form of evening primrose or black currant seed oil is also very helpful at reducing symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease.
GLA works well with chronic immune disorders – especially those that are more common in women, such as fibromyalgia, lupus, and chronic fatigue. I think that part of GLA’s success with these conditions is its hormone balancing effect combined with its anti-inflammatory properties. GLA is also helpful with multiple sclerosis.
GLA is known for its metabolism-boosting, fat-burning properties. GLA activates the fat that is insulation and padding for our organs, glands, and skeletal structure and actually increases metabolism helping us to burn – rather than store fat. GLA also improves insulin sensitivity and helps curb appetite.
I like recommending supplements such as evening primrose oil or GLA blends for certain kinds of conditions because they actually fix a deficiency of this particular kind of fatty acid rather than just controlling a symptom. Recommended dosage varies, but I find that 130 mg. of GLA three times per day gets the best results.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.naturalcowgirl.wordpress.com