Let’s wrap up this three-part look at gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) by examining one of its biggest strengths: improving the lives of people with rheumatoid arthritis.
GLA may be effective in treating the millions of people who suffer rheumatoid arthritis. It is caused by a faulty immune system and there is no cure for it. GLA could reduce symptoms. Some studies have found no real benefit, while others have discovered positive results. The latter includes these three studies:
- Forty patients received 540 milligrams a day of evening primrose oil (or olive oil). The GLA-rich oil led to improvement in morning stiffness with no side effects.
- Thirty-seven patients received 1.4 grams a day of borage oil (or cottonseed oil). Over six months, borage oil improved joint tenderness, swelling, and pain.
- Twenty-four patients took two grams a day of blackcurrant oil (or soybean oil) for six months. The GLA group had improved joint tenderness.
Using GLA supplements in many studies also allowed the patients to reduce the amount of painkillers they were taking. This is important: hard evidence shows that these NSAID painkillers increase the risk of heart attacks if taken over a long period of time. Finally, a 2003 review of GLA showed these results for GLA vs. placebo: 68% vs. 32% in reducing pain; 71% vs. 29% for reducing tender joints; 60% vs. 40% for reducing swollen joints; and 61% vs. 39% for reducing stiffness.
On a different note: how about lung disease? Combining the omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid with GLA (through a feeding tube) improved lung functions in people with acute respiratory distress syndrome. This is important, as this condition can become fatal.
Research has proven that GLA may help with several other issues as well. It could:
- Help those suffering septic shock
- Reduce risk of heart attack
- Improve bone mineral density in older adults who have osteoporosis.
- Relieve “cyclical mastalgia,” which is monthly breast pain in females due to hormonal cycles
- Significantly improve itching that is caused by chronic kidney failure
In the end, if anything in this short series seems relevant to you, speak to your doctor about how GLA could help.