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Evening Primrose Oil for Eczema Questioned

Many natural medicine clinicians have long advocated GLA (gamma linolenic acid) from evening primrose oil for eczema. Some have also used or suggested borage oil as it is less expensive and has a higher concentration of GLA. I have not used the borage oil ever since I learned it is also loaded with nervonic acid, which has some negative side effects. Tomorrow's British Medical Journal has a study and editorial that comprehensively reviews all the studies to date and seriously questions the usefulness of GLA for eczema.

So who does one believe? Well, I can throw in my two cents, but I have successfully treated many children and adults with eczema and I partially agree with these studies. I don't think GLA or evening primrose oil is a magic potion for eczema in and of itself. If this is the only factor one is changing, I would agree with the article and in fact had a letter posted by the BMJ addressing this very topic last summer. One of the keys here is to eliminate excess omega-6 fats and increase the beneficial omega-3 fats in fish oil. Additionally, restriction of sugars from grains, especially gluten, and fruits juices are also helpful at normalizing insulin levels that modulate the omega 6:3 ratio.

I have helped many hundreds of children improve their eczema. In fact it is one of the easier problems that we treat in our office, despite the fact that many of them have been seen by pediatric dermatologists at some of the leading medical schools in the country.

Postscript: BMJ posted my letter on their website.

British Medical Journal December 13,, 2003;327:1358-1359 Full Text Journal Article

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