gamma-linolenic acid, GLA
Borage oil is mostly made of the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid. It’s needed for many body functions.
Medically valid uses
Borage oil has no proven medical uses.
There may be benefits that have not yet been proven through research.
The GLA from borage oil and other botanical oils may reduce inflammation. This may
aid in arthritis. It may also reduce allergy symptoms. It may also help with atopic
Sources vary on the amount of borage oil you should use. This is likely due to the
many issues it may treat. You should follow the directions on the package for the
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use borage oil.
Side effects, toxicity, and interactions
GLA is said to be relatively safe. However, there are concerns that borage oil may
be toxic. Evening primrose oil seems to be a safer source of GLA than borage oil.
Both borage oil and evening primrose oil may lower the seizure threshold. People who
take anticonvulsant medicines should not take these oils. Some omega-6 fatty acids,
such as GLA, may increase or decrease the effects of certain medicines. Talk to your
healthcare provider before taking borage oil.
The combined essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) should make up 1% to 2% of
your total caloric intake. The recommended ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids
is 1:1 or 1:2. Because of the increased use of vegetable oil in the U.S., most American
diets are closer to 1:20 to 1:30.
Borage oil contains about 18% to 26% GLA. Other plant oils also contain GLA. Evening
primrose contains between 7% and 10%. Black currant oil contains 15% to 20%.