Borage Oil

Other name(s):

gamma-linolenic acid, GLA

General description

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid that can be found in borage oil and other oils. It’s needed for many body functions.

Medically valid uses

Borage oil has no proven medical uses.

Unsubstantiated claims

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 dermatitis.

Dosing format

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 correct dose.

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.

Additional information

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%.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bianca Garilli MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Southard RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2023