- Do borage, evening primrose, flaxseed and other seed oils with ALA and GLA work? These seed oils contain predominately healthful, polyunsaturated fats such as ALA (as from flax) and/or GLA (as from evening primrose) (See "What It Is"). Substituting these for saturated fats in your diet can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Taken as a supplement, they may help with the following conditions, although the evidence remains only preliminary: acne, ADHD, dry eye, bipolar disorder, diabetic neuropathy, mastitis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and Raynaud's phenomenon. (See "What It Does").
- What dose of seed oil supplements should I take? Depending on the use, studies have used daily doses of seed oils that provide from as little as 15 mg to as much as 2,000 mg of ALA or GLA. (See "Dosage"). Keep in mind that only a part of the seed oil is ALA or GLA, so the amount of oil needed could be double or even 10 times higher than the dose of ALA or GLA. For example, about 55% of flaxseed oil is ALA, so a tablespoon of flaxseed oil (weighing about 14,000 mg) provides about 7,700 mg of ALA, while evening primrose oil is only 7 to 10% GLA (about 1,200 mg per tablespoon). (See "What to Consider When Buying")
- Best choice for ALA and GLA seed oils? ConsumerLab.com's tests found that most products were high-quality, although three failed to pass tests for freshness. See CL's Top Picks among products that were Approved.
- Safety and side effects of black currant, borage, evening primrose, flaxseed and hemp oils: Although generally safe, these oils can cause mild nausea and diarrhea, but there are ways to lessen this. Rarely, allergic reactions to flaxseed have been reported. Use these oils with caution if you are pregnant, have a seizure disorder, hemophilia, take blood-thinning medication, or are considering use in an infant. (See "Concerns and Cautions").