Borage oil, dry eye syndrome and heart health.

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The previous blog about GLA or borage oil covered how this important nutrient helps maintain the health of the membranes in the body.  This blog explores the role of GLA in the balancing act the body does to maintain appropriate inflammatory response to illness and injury, its role in good heart health and how it helps with dry eye syndrome.

A borage flower. Borage seeds are the best source of GLA.

In my old blog posts, I wrote an important blog about fish oils or omega 3 oils in playing their part in this balancing act.  To sum up, on a daily basis the body needs a mixture of omega 3 and omega 6 oils, collectively called essential fatty acids.  With today’s emphasis on omega 6 plant oils such as sunflower or rape seed oil,1 this mixture gets unbalanced and the body lacks the essential ingredients to make a group of  molecules that tell the cells in the body what to do – for example whether to produce or reduce inflammation, whether to expand the arteries or contract them.  This group is called collectively eicosanoids and each group of eicosanoids has opposing partners, one made by the omega 3s and the other by the omega 6s.  For interest and so we can spot the names when some doctor tries to blind us with science, eicosanoids comprise prostaglandins, prostacyclins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes.

GLA or gamma linoleic acid fits into all this by coming under the omega 6 group of essential fatty acids, but it should be made in our body out of the other omega 6s in the diet.  Unfortunately this enzyme responsible for this gets disabled by high insulin levels caused by a sugary and starchy diet and by transfats2.  The best dietary sources of GLA are borage oil, as covered in the previous GLA blog, so therefore somewhat rare in our food intake. And so we end up low on GLA.

A sign of arterial thrombosis in the right leg. GLA has an anti-thrombogenic activity.

GLA has particular activity in the eicosanoids that prevent blood clotting and tell the veins and arteries to dilate, so a vital part of heart health.    Some eicosanoids, the leukotrienes, have a constrictive action on the throat and produce allergic rhinitis – a runny nose caused by allergies, and so are associated with asthma and allergies.  GLA has an inhibitory effect on these leukotrienes.

Two other important actions of GLA include its anti-inflammatory activity and its positive effect on such auto-immune conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Sjögren’s syndrome – or dry eye syndrome.  In this latter common condition the body produces immune cells that attack the glands that produce both saliva and tears.  So what starts out as an annoying bit of dry eye can end up in tooth loss as the saliva glands dry up and the teeth lose that vital protection.

So in 2006 I had my eyes lasered and was told that I had dry eye.  And I was also in and out of the dentist needing fillings and so on.  I had put the dry eyes down to the hard contact lenses I had worn for the past 28 years.  It was around that time that that I started studying with Charles Poliquin and so started taking fish oils, GLA, magnesium and so on regularly and in large quantities .  In due course my dry eye vanished, my teeth have stabilised and my gums are in excellent condition.  This blog makes it clear as to why these things have improved.

Itchy skin. GLA reduces itching.

We do have to commit to wanting good health.  What we eat produces our energy levels and health.  For whatever reason, general nutritional guidelines do not help and seem to encourage unbalanced essential fatty acids, fear of all fat and avoidance of red meat.  There seems to be a blind faith in the power of pharmaceuticals, heedless of the many side effects.  And we also have become poor at reading our body’s many cries for help; dry eye, getting up in the night to pee, getting a bit of arthritis, slowly sinking energy levels, asthma, high blood pressure and so on.  So 3 good ways to start digging ourselves out of this mess include cooking food from scratch; digesting that food properly and getting a good balance of the essential fatty acids by eschewing the rape seed oil for other oils such as olive or avocado oil, and taking high quality (molecularly distilled) fish oils and some borage oil.  Then our hearts will beat soundly, we will breathe freely and our eyes glisten with health.3

  1. Sunflower oil and most vegetable oils are examples of polyunsaturated fats. []
  2. Transfats are margarines – oils that should be liquid but have been made solid by heat so their chemical structure changes to being closer to a plastic.  These things have dreadful consequences for our health, but they give products a long shelf life, which is what matters to the food manufacturers and people can be conned into thinking that a solid olive oil is somehow good for them. []
  3. Sources: Jonny Bowden, Living the low carb life.  Sally Fallon,  Nourishing TraditionsThe PDR for Nutritional Supplements.  And Wikipedia. []

4 Responses to “Borage oil, dry eye syndrome and heart health.”

  1. Shelley 2013-03-8

    Hi! I would love to know how much you take of the fish oil, borage oil and magnesium. I am having severe dry eye from sjogrens and also I believe I made my symptoms worse from my diet. I was a chip-a-holic which has tons of sunflower oil. I have been taking the oils for the last three weeks and completely changed my diet to veggies and proteins with a little carbs.

    Would love and deeply appreciate your input!


    • Clare Harding 2013-03-9

      Hi, Shelley. Dry eye is the most uncomfortable condition. The dietary change sounds excellent and I hope you are feeling much better on it so can keep it going. I recommend taking fish oils with borage oil. The fish oils will help undo the damage done by the chips – the fat the chips are cooked in stiffens the cell walls and fish oils help undo that. The blog obviously went into what borage oil does. The best product by far is the Poliquin EFA Complete Px, which is a combination of fish oils and borage oil. If I take fish oils and GLA separately, I find my hands get very dry and this combination pill keeps them in lovely condition, meaning I don’t have to worry about getting the ratio right. I sell it for £32 for 180×1 gm pills. If you just want to take borage oil, then start with 1 gm a day and see if you get any improvement on that. You may have to increase it to 3 gms a day for a while, then reduce. But the combination of oils is the best route to go to sort this irritating condition out.
      Magnesium: the best is the Poliquin Ubermag. This is quite a product and takes some getting used to since our mag levels are very low. I sell it for £16.50 for a pot of 90 caps. The recommended dose is to build up to 6 a day, but most take less than that in my experience. (sigh). You can take magnesium citrate, which is easily available, but uptake is far inferior and if you take too much, you’d better wear a nappy at night. However, you may be able to track down magnesium glycinate which is a better form but not as good as Ubermag. Magnesium oxide is horrendous. With any luck with the fish oils/borage, you will be able to drop the dose after a while. The problem with magnesium is that toxicity blocks the magnesium receptors, making it very difficult to rebuild magnesium levels in the tissues.
      Hope this all helps. And thank you for your comment. Let me know what you decide to do and how it is going.

      • Shelley 2013-03-10

        Thank You so much for responding! I just have one more question. I see your combination has 750 mg of borage. If that is not helping would I increase your pills to 3000mg thereby keeping the correct ratio of omega 6 and 3s or would I add borage oil separately to get to that amount. I don’t want to mess up the ratio again by getting too many omega 6. I hope that made sense!!!

  2. Shelley 2013-03-11

    One other question. How long do you wait before you would increase the borage oil?

    Thank you again!


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