Slideshows Images Quizzes

Gamma Linolenic Acid

font size

What other names is Gamma Linolenic Acid known by?

Acide Gammalinolénique, Acide Gamma-Linolénique, Ácido Gama Linolénico, AGL, Gamolenic Acid, GLA, Gammalinolenic Acid, Gamma-Linolenic Acid, (Z,Z,Z)-Octadeca-6,9,12-trienoic acid.

What is Gamma Linolenic Acid?

Gamma linolenic acid is a fatty substance found in various plant seed oils such as borage oil and evening primrose oil. People use it as medicine.

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is used for conditions that affect the skin including systemic sclerosis, psoriasis, and eczema. It is also used for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), polyps in the mouth, high cholesterol and other blood fats, heart disease, metabolic syndrome (Syndrome-X), diabetic nerve pain, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, depression after childbirth, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Some people use it to prevent cancer and to help breast cancer patients respond faster to treatment with the drug tamoxifen.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Nerve problems due to diabetes (diabetic neuropathy). Taking gamma linolenic acid by mouth for 6-12 months seems to reduce symptoms and prevent nerve damage in people with nerve pain due to type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Gamma linolenic acid seems to work better in people with good blood sugar control.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Allergic skin conditions (eczema). Some early research suggests that taking gamma linolenic acid by mouth for 4 weeks might improve symptoms in children with allergic skin conditions such as itching and redness. However, combined results from 11 studies show that gamma linolenic acid from borage oil or evening primrose oil does not improve allergic skin conditions.
  • Scleroderma, a condition in which skin hardens. Some research suggests that taking gamma linolenic acid by mouth does not reduce symptoms of scleroderma.
  • Ulcerative colitis. Some research suggests that taking a combination of gamma linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for 12 months does not reduce symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Breast cancer. Early research suggests that taking gamma linolenic acid improves the response to tamoxifen in people with breast cancer.
  • High blood pressure. Some research shows that taking gamma linolenic acid with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) does not decrease modestly high blood pressure. However, other research shows that taking gamma linolenic acid, EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for 6 weeks may decrease diastolic (the bottom number) blood pressure.
  • Oral polyps.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Heart disease.
  • Cancer prevention.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Depression.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Hay fever.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of gamma linolenic acid for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Therapeutic Research Faculty copyright

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Get the latest treatment options

Health Resources
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors