Using Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) in Medical Conditions

Frequently Asked Questions


Q. Can Essential Fatty Acids help treat certain medical conditions?


A. EFA supplementation has shown promise in the prevention and treatment of a number of medical conditions.


It has been suggested that most of the "diseases of civilization" - heart disease, cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and skin diseases - are caused by a disturbance in fat metabolism. Each essential fatty acid plays a specific role in the body. Just like other essential vitamins and minerals, all are necessary for good health. Furthermore, a diet rich in EFAs can be helpful in many diseases.


Recent research has shown that EFAs can have a profound effect on several medical conditions including: arthritis, skin conditions, cardiovascular diseases, diabetic neuropathy, immune function, premenstrual syndrome, as well as aid in infant brain development.


Q. Arthritis


A. Studies done in the last 15 years show that EFAs, in particular GLA and EPA, can reduce the pain and joint stiffness associated with arthritis, in particular rheumatoid arthritis. Supplementation with GLA often allows patients to reduce their dosage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). GLA also helps protects the stomach lining against gastric acid, reducing the side effects of NSAIDs such as aspirin.


Dosage: Patients may take 6 to 10 grams of Borage or Fish Oils per day. (Some studies indicate that Borage Oil is more effective than Fish Oil in patients with arthritis.)


Q. Skin health


A. In the last 20 years, researchers have discovered that eczema may be linked to GLA deficiency. In 1997, during a 12-week study that was conducted at the University of Italy, patients taking GLA, in the form of Borage Oil, saw itching decrease by 90%. These patients also saw improvements in the patches of red skin and oozing of wounds. Similar studies have shown that GLA also improves symptoms of psoriasis.

Dosage: Patients may supplement the diet with 2 to 3 grams of Borage Oil per day.


Q. Cardiovascular diseases


A. It has been discovered that EPA/DHA, GLA, and ALA each play a significant role in the prevention and treatment of various cardiovascular diseases including: high blood pressure, arrhythmia, cholesterol, hypertension and atherosclerosis, the underlying mechanism of the majority of coronary diseases and heart attacks.


EPA/DHA These EFAs found in Fish Oils thin the blood and increase the elasticity of blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more readily, which helps reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes from blood clotting. They also reduce blood triglycerides, blood pressure, and cholesterol.


GLA GLA has been shown to help correct cholesterol levels, interfere with the growth of atherosclerosis, and lower blood pressure.


ALA Studies have shown that a diet rich in ALA protects against heart attacks and reduces the occurrence of heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) as well as prolong the lives of heart attack survivors. ALA also helps in the prevention of atherosclerosis and the lowering of cholesterol.


Dosage: Patients may take 1 to 4 grams of a "multi-EFA" combination oil per day. A "multi-EFA" is like the "multivitamin" of the EFA world. A typical multi-EFA contains a blend of Borage, Fish, and Flaxseed oils in equal amounts.


Q. Diabetic Neuropathy


A. Clinical research has discovered that GLA is an important factor contributing to prevention and improvement of neuropathy - nerve damage that affects between 60% and 70% of all diabetics. Anyone with diabetes may consider supplementing with Borage Oil as a preventive measure against neuropathy. Patients with existing neuropathy may experience improvement in symptoms with GLA supplementation.


Dosage: Supplement the diet with 2 grams of Borage Oil daily.


Q. Immune function


A. Recent research suggests that ALA can regulate immune response and may play a beneficial role in the clinical management of auto-immune disease. GLA may also modulate or regulate immune function.


Dosage: use 30 grams of milled flaxseed daily. Flaxseed may be added to breads, salads, cereals, and other foods.


Q. Premenstrual syndrome


A. Women have long used GLA to help combat the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Research has shown that women who are deficient in GLA are more likely to experience premenstrual breast pain. GLA deficiency may also be responsible for other PMS symptoms such as depression, irritability, fluid retention and overall body sensitivity.


Dosage: Women with PMS may take 2 to 4 grams of Borage Oil daily.


Q. Infant brain development


A. Studies have concluded that the brain of a newborn baby contains large amounts of DHA so to ensure normal brain development, a baby requires large amounts of DHA.


Q. Is it safe to take EFAs in large dosages?


A. Yes. Clinical studies have shown there are no serious side effects to EFA supplementation.


Dosages as high as 10 grams of EFA oils daily have been used in clinical research without any signs of complication. Patients occasionally report slight upset stomach, burping, and/or minor bowel disturbance such as loose stools.


EPA and DHA contain properties that thin the blood, which can increase bleeding times.


Consult your physician before starting any treatment.


A. Yes. Clinical studies have shown there are no serious side effects to EFA supplementation.