Borage Oil (GLA) Supplement
Reduces Arthritis Inflammation

Borage oil (gamma linolenic acid [GLA]) is an effective natural treatment for reducing inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis with few side effects, several studies show.

When taken orally, GLA, which is a omega-6 fatty acid, promotes improvements related to joint pain, stiffness and grip strength.

Borage oil supplements are used effectively in conjunction with conventional arthritis drug medications. The goal of adding GLA treatment for arthritis patients is to reduce dosage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and protect stomach lining against gastric acid. Borage oil is extremely well tolerated.

Borage seed oil is naturally extracted from the flower Borago officinalis or Starflower found in Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor and North America. It is the richest known natural source of GLA (20-23%), which doubles the amount available in other sources (such as Evening primrose and Black Currant) and is more efficient with lower dosages.

The human body produces its own GLA from linoleic acid (LA) however, lack of GLA occurs when people grow older, are in disease states, or have specific dietary deficiencies.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) vital for cell functioning

As an essential omega 6 fatty acid, borage oil helps regulate basic body functions continuously. EFAs are essential for maintaining good health. They are a fundamental component of all cell membranes (outer layer of cell) and vital for cellular functioning and communication.

For arthritis sufferers, the body uses GLA to form prostaglandins—potent, hormone-like substances that help regulate bodily processes such as inflammation, pain, circulation and metabolic rate. Persistent pain is a warning.

Borage oil GLA reduces inflammation not only in arthritic joints, but also inflammation in kidneys or skin. It is said to reduce dryness and keep skin healthy, supple and young looking. It tightens skin and reduces the risk of clogged pores.

My husband and I take a high quality dietary supplement complex consisting of GLA from borage seed oil, linoleic acid (LA) from sunflower seed oil/borage seed oil, and Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol concentrate). This combination of natural plant ingredients and Vitamin E has helped both of us with the inflammatory issues from arthritis and occasional injuries. I especially like it for a side benefit: my dry eyes.

Studies show gamma linolenic acid effective in reducing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis

Several studies show borage oil is an effective oral treatment for reducing inflammation in arthritis, with few side effects.

One of the most referenced of these studies was a placebo-controlled trial of 56 rheumatoid arthritis patients who received 2.8 g gamma linolenic acid for six months conducted by a research team at University of Massachusetts Medical Center. In the first six months, a double blind trial was conducted with GLA versus a placebo. This was followed by six additional months as a single-blind trial which all patients received GLA.

Patients treated with GLA in the first six months resulted in statistically significant and clinically relevant reductions in the signs and symptoms of disease activity in patients with RA.

During the second six months, both groups exhibited improvement in disease activity. Thus, patients taking GLA during the entire one-year study showed progressive improvement at 12 months compared with the study entry.

The conclusion was that GLA at dosage used in this study is well tolerated and effective treatment for active RA. Typically, borage oil supplements are effectively formulated in smaller dosage than the study.

Seven other studies favorably compared GLA to placebo in RA patients

In a Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008 Issue 3, a summary looked at the effects of herbal therapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and is quoted below:

“Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. Seven of the studies compared gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) to placebo. All of these studies found some improvement in clinical outcomes but methodology and study quality was variable, making it difficult to draw conclusive results.”

“However, the better quality studies suggest potential relief of pain, morning stiffness and joint tenderness for RA. The current available evidence for herbal treatment of RA is generally sparse and reliant on small sample-sizes and is therefore insufficient for reliable assessment of benefits.”

“Studies of gamma linolenic acid in the treatment of RA, however, are promising and suggest that this herbal intervention may provide supplementary or alternative treatment to NSAIDs for some patients. Good tolerance of most of the herbal remedies was demonstrated although caution is warranted in interpreting safety due to small sample sizes in some of the studies.”

Mayo clinic says GLA and Fish Oil have shown promise for RA

If you’re interested in trying complementary and alternative medicine therapy for rheumatoid arthritis pain or osteoarthritis, discuss these treatments with your doctor first.

The Mayo Clinic reported in an online article three alternative treatments that show promise for rheumatoid arthritis include:

  1. Plant oils that contain gamma-linolenic acid. GLA is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that comes from plant oils, such as evening primrose, borage seed and black currant. Some studies indicate borage oil may help with rheumatoid arthritis pain and morning stiffness, though more research is needed. Side effects may include nausea, diarrhea and gas. Some plant oils can cause liver damage or interfere with medications, so check with your doctor first.
  2. Fish oil that contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are omegea-3 fatty acids commonly found in fish oil. Some preliminary studies have found that fish oil may reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain and stiffness, but more study is needed. Side effects can include nausea, belching and a fishy taste in the mouth. More serious side effects can include bleeding and mercury poisoning. Fish oil can interfere with medications, so check with your doctor first.
  3. Tai chi. This movement therapy involves gentle exercises and stretches combined with deep breathing. Many people use tai chi to relieve stress in their lives. Small studies have found tai chi may reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain, though more study is needed. Talk to your doctor if you'd like to give tai chi a try. When led by a knowledgeable instructor, tai chi is safe. But don't do any moves that cause pain

How can you be sure you’re buying a high quality borage oil supplement?

Based on some of the cautions raised by The Mayo Clinic above, can you see the value in finding the best quality natural products so you don’t have to worry about such things as liver damage, bleeding, mercury poisoning, or fishy taste?

Does your supplement company produce a high quality product?

I asked this same question in 1988 when I was trying to find the best natural nutrition dietary supplements on the market.

To do so, I’ve devised a list of 30 questions (modified somewhat as the years have gone by) to determine what standards of excellence you should expect when choosing a natural supplement company for borage oil, for example.

The answers to these questions led me to Shaklee Corporation, the #1 natural nutrition company in America. The reason for this ranking is their reliance on safety and science in every product they produce. Over 50-plus years they’ve invested more than $250 million proving this point.

To give you an idea of their integrity, on several occasions they have suspended manufacture and sale of a product because they were unable to obtain a raw ingredient of high enough quality to pass their tests. How many companies do you know that would voluntarily do that? Most companies are driven more by the bottom line--profits--than quality, safety or even efficacy.

Shaklee won't sell substandard or sub-potent products, period. Check them out for yourself on this naturally safe, proven effective information and video link.

Recommended GLA dietary supplement for arthritis sufferers

In addition to having benefits for arthritis symptoms, borage oil gamma linolenic acid helps our bodies form prostaglandins that help regulate many bodily functions, such as healthy blood flow and the protection of arterial walls. Borage oil also helps women to maintain well-being during the menstrual cycle.

As mentioned, the borage oil supplement my husband and I use contains a mixture of GLA, Vitamin E, and Sunfower seed oil. It has no artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, or preservatives added. Its label recommends using two or three capsules daily. Each capsule contains 90 mg of gamma-linolenic acid from borage seed oil, 215 mg of linoleic acid from a combination of borage seed/sunflower seed oil.

For long term help in managing your arthritis pain, morning stiffness and joint tenderness, I recommend this borage oil GLA dietary supplement.

Disclaimer: Health statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

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