Gamma-Linolenic Acid and Arthritis

There now exist more treatment options than ever before for the average arthritis patient. Drug therapy usually consists of NSAID class drugs. These drugs have anti-inflammatory properties, and they are non-steroidal so they are generally considered safer than other drug therapy options. However, in cases where the patient is suffering from severe localized pain, cortisone shots may be prescribed.

Treatment therapy also usually consists of lifestyle management issues. This includes getting some form of regular exercise. Weight bearing exercises are recommended, such as strength training. Low impact exercises like walking are also beneficial. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight are also important to keeping this condition under control.

Natural Remedies

Now there is another option for arthritis sufferers: using natural medicine to complement more conventional therapy options. Gamma-linolenic Acid (GLA) is one type of omega-6 fatty acid that is derived from the seeds of some plants.

Recently, GLAs have been highly touted for their health benefits. Now there is speculation that these wonder acids can also have beneficial effects for some arthritis sufferers.

Some of the most well known GLAs are derived from the seeds of black currant, borage, and evening primrose. These plants have long been used to treat a variety of ailments, and now the GLAs derived from these plants are being used to alleviate the inflammation often associated with arthritis.

Here is the latest about how GLAs can help counteract many of the most painful effects of living with arthritis.

GLA Research

One 2000 report put out by the Cochrane Collaboration examined the result of seven studies of GLA plants. The plants examined in these studies include borage, evening primrose, and black currant. Their oils were studied and used to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, none of these studies was conclusive, and none was able to prove the true efficacy of GLA plants and oils.

However, some medical researchers do believe that there is some kind of link between GLAs and the potential for pain relief, morning joint stiffness, and overall discomfort and tenderness.

Even though most GLAs and their respective plants have a long-standing record as safe and effective herbs, there still exist certain risks to consuming these herbs in any form. Many health experts and herbalists warn that many GLAs and their plants may not interact well with prescription medications. Furthermore, some GLAs may actually exacerbate an individual’s already existing medical conditions.

Other researchers have noted specific effects of certain GLA plants. For instance, it has been noted that some borage seed oil preparations contain ingredients called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) that can cause serious harm to the liver, or at least exacerbate the symptoms of liver disease. Evening primrose oil has been linked to problems related to the use of phenothiazine drugs. Moreover, many herbal drugs are potent, and can have strong side effects including diarrhea, nausea, intestinal gas, and bloating.