Omega 6 & 3 Essential Fatty Acids

(Evening Primrose and Fish Oils)

Evening Primrose (Oenothera binennis) is a large delicate wild flower thatgrows up to eight feet tall and can be found along streams and roads in North America from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic seaboard. The seeds of the plant yield an oil, rich in healing and nutritional properties.

The flowers bloom in the evening and are pollinated by night-flying insects. The tiny seeds are about the size of mustard seeds. The Evening Primrose crop is hand-harvested.

History

The biggest discovery since vitamin C might be Evening Primrose Oil (EPO). It continues to attract the attention of scientists all over the world as its effectiveness becomes known in a wide range of physical problems such as acne, arthritis, female problems, schizophrenia, heart disease and obesity. The first treatment using EPO was for multiple sclerosis.

Early use of Evening Primrose included parts of the whole plant: used externally to heal wounds, soothe skin inflammations and eruptions; internally to control coughs and infections, to lessen spasms, as a sedative, pain killer, diuretic and as a mild astringent.

Prostaglandins

In the thirties, U.S. von Euler, a Swedish scientist, made the discovery of prostaglandin. He first found prostaglandin in high concentrations in the prostate gland. Today, about thirty different prostaglandins have been identified in every cell of the body. Prostaglandins act as regulators and messengers though they are not secreted by the glands like hormones. Each cell keeps small amounts of the material used to produce them. They are metabolised at the site as needed and very quickly utilised by the body.

Prostaglandins are short-lived highly active,  hormone-like chemicals that are found in every cell of the body. They are regulators of cell activity and essential for maintaining health. Each cell type or organ produces its own form of prostaglandin to carry out its functions. There are three types of prostaglandins: PG1, PG2, and PG3.

Series 1 Prostaglandins, derived from gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), the active component of EPO has many beneficial effects: It makes platelets less sticky, lowers blood pressure by relaxing smooth muscles in the walls of arteries, increases loss of sodium and water, decreases inflammation and enhances immunity.

Series 2 Prostaglandins, also derived from GLA, is used in "fight or flight" (stress) situations, - the fight against danger, or the flight from it. In modern lifestyles which are high in stress but low in physical activity, continuous production of Series Two Prostaglandins results in sticky platelets, high blood pressure, increased water and sodium retention, increased inflammation and decreased immune system capabilities.

Series 3 Prostaglandins, derived from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the active component of FISH OIL, has beneficial effects. They block the detrimental effect of the Series 2 Prostaglandins, preventing these "bad guys" from being made in the body. As a result the platelets are less sticky, blood pressure is lower because the muscles in the walls of our arteries remain relaxed, loss of sodium and water by the kidneys takes place more effectively, inflammation response is decreased, and immune function is efficient.

Consumption of prostaglandins is useless, because they are destroyed during digestion. Consumption of supplements of essential fatty acid derivatives such as EPO and Salmon Oil can bring dramatic improvements in health, through their conversion into prostaglandins in the body.

Essential Fatty Acids

Production of prostaglandins is due to polyunsaturated fats which contain fatty acids known as essential fatty acids (EFA's). EFA's are similar to the essential amino acids and most vitamins because the body cannot produce them, therefore, they must be supplied from an external source. Essential means they are necessary to life and good health. EFA's are part of the  building  material in which all  body membranes, including brain cells are developed.

Fluidity and flexibility of the cell membranes depend on the amount of EFA's present in the cells, directly affecting the quality of immune response. EFA's give energy, help to maintain body temperature, insulate the nerves, cushion and protect the tissue and are vital to metabolism (Graham, 1989).

Studies of animals deprived of EFA's show they:

* develop very bad skin and their hair falls out
* cannot resist infections
* do not have proper collagen formation
* become infertile, a rapid process in males
* develop painful, swollen joints
* develop liver damage
* become lethargic and irritable

(Graham, 1989 and Burr, 1929)

Health practitioners recommend polyunsaturated oils in order to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lower body weight and reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Unadulterated polyunsaturated oils furnish the body with EFA's. One EFA, linoleic acid (LA) will guarantee the production of the others. Linoleic acid converts into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid nutrient, in the body. If the body cannot convert LA to GLA, it is useless. The body creates PG1 from GLA. Due to diet and lifestyle, GLA may be deficient in people who live in Western cultures. EPO is a direct source of GLA.

Trans-linoleic Acid

The Standard American Diet (SAD) includes cis-linoleic acid (a form of linoleic acid) a natural, unprocessed or cold-processed vegetable oil. Many complex processes are used to remove the odour, increase shelf-life and render the oil suitable for making margarine and for cooking and baking. These processes transform the cis-linoleic acid to a substance that is very similar chemically called trans-linoleic acid. Trans-linoleic acid is not acceptable to the body despite the similarity and will not be converted to GLA. Much of the polyunsaturates we eat are useless.

Trans-linoleic acid interferes with the capacity of the body to convert the cis-linoleic acid to GLA, the first step in the production of prostaglandin PGE1.

Trans-linoleic acids are found in almost every prepared or processed food that we eat. A study at the University of Maryland reported them in all forms of bakery products, including bread, in most candies, and in many foods cooked in vegetable oils or cooking fats. As an example, a stick of margarine contains from 25-35% trans-fatty acids.

Dr. David F. Horrobin, famous for his pioneering work with prostaglandins and EPO, has stated that 1 out of 250 of the general population cannot make the conversion to GLA. Even in healthy bodies, much linoleic acid is not converted because it is used up as energy.

The results of free radical activity (peroxides) act as blocking agents preventing the conversion of LA and ALA to GLA and EPA (See Chart). Barriers to the formation of GLA and EPA are largely overcome when GLA and EPA are taken directly into the body. EPO can by-pass the LA to GLA conversion and FISH OILS provide EPA/DHA directly.

Because it contains GLA, small amounts of EPO would have the same effects as much larger amounts of other oils. In blocking the initial conversion step, EPO would have an effect that could not be achieved by other oils no matter how much was consumed. EPO is an ideal  way of  supplying the body with GLA which in turn forms dihomo-gamma-linolenic Acid. DGLA is the form in which the body stores GLA in the cells for the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are not stored because they are used up immediately in the body.

EPO for Optimum Health

Theoretically many disease states could be controlled or cured by normalising prostaglandin production. It appears that a multitude of health problems result from a deficiency in prostaglandins. We know that this can be caused by a number of factors:

  • including inadequate intake of essential fatty acids
  • using the wrong forms of EFA's (trans-linoleic acid)
  • genetic or health-related defect which prevents the conversion of EFA's to GLA, and EPA/DHA
  • deficiency of key nutrients needed for the catalysing in the production of prostaglandins.

"Primrose oil therapy of two to four 1 gram capsules per day, has resulted in a number of significant improvements in disease states through either direct or indirect pathways," states Mark Timon, co-author of the Dictionary of Health and Nutrition. EPO has been reported to have a very beneficial effect on many chronic diseases, allergies and ailments.

Acne

Diets deficient in fatty acids often cause skin problems similar to those occurring with acne. EPO alone showed little effect on true acne, but when supplemented with zinc and vitamin C, there was substantial improvement.

Alcoholism

A little is good for you and too much may cause permanent damage.

European research shows that a little alcohol can help in the reduction of heart disease and that those who drink one or two glasses of wine a day may extend their lifespan. Low intake of alcohol relates to EPO because it is known to have an effect on prostaglandins. It may be that when people feel happy or a little high from alcohol, it is a result of increased prostaglandins.

Research shows that too much alcohol decreases the levels of prostaglandins in the body and when alcohol is withdrawn, hangovers and depression may occur. Excessive alcohol is a blocking agent as it interrupts the conversion of cis-linoleic to GLA. Low levels of prostaglandins in alcoholics increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, a reduced ability to cope with infection, brain and nerve damage and liver deterioration. Some individuals may inherit the risk of alcoholism through a genetic inability to make the proper fatty acid conversions.

Allergies

PGE1 stimulates the function of T-cells suppressers, and when this ratio is disrupted the body can become sensitive to a variety of harmless substances. This can lead not only to common food allergies, but a sensitivity to fur and pollen.

Cancer

Dr. Richard Passwater, nutritional biochemist, writes that the body has three defences against cancer: the liver, which detoxifies cancer causing chemicals; the cell membrane, which controls cell nourishment and protects cells against invasion by cancer causing chemicals; and the immune system.

When the immune system is depleted, cancerous cells may easily multiply. EPO is beneficial because it converts into PGE1, which as stated earlier, increases the body's immune system. PGE1 is crucial because it has been known to activate T-cells.

Radiation, chemical carcinogens and cancer-causing viruses destroy not only cancerous cells, but healthy ones as well, resulting in an extreme decrease in the production of GLA from LA. It is thought that cancer cells produce PGE2 and are unable to make PGE1. Laboratory tests have shown that when GLA is added, these cells begin to behave normally (Horrobin, 1980).

Multiple Sclerosis

One of the factors thought to play a part in MS is the auto-immune system. Research suggests that those suffering from MS are deficient in prostaglandins which result in a weakened immune system and increases susceptibility to auto-immune damage.

GLA is believed to work in the following ways:

  • stimulates T-lymphocytes
  • stops platelets from clumping
  • makes faulty red blood cells return to normal
  • strengthens blood vessel walls
  • acts as an anti-viral agent
  • stimulates the nervous system
  • maintains a healthy balance between PGE1 and PGE2
    (Graham, 1989).

Diabetes

Insulin deficiency may inhibit the supply of PGE1 and increase the production of PGE2 (Arisaka, 1986).

Studies show that the disease characteristics of diabetes (heart, eyes and kidneys) can be greatly reduced when large doses of linoleic acid are supplemented. Dr. David Horrobin states that there are ongoing studies at several universities involving the effects of EPO and diabetes, saying, "...we have reason to believe that the EPO is better than other oils because of the fact that diabetics can't form GLA properly", (Let's Live, October 1981).

Research shows that insulin dependent diabetics (IDD's) supple- menting with EPO showed a lowering of serum triglycerides, cholesterol and plasma (Chaintreuil, Monnier, Colette, Crastes De Paulet, Orsetti, Speilmann, Mendy and Crastes De Paulet, 1984). Literature also indicates that insulin resistance, sexual dysfunction, susceptibility to infection and the tingling and twitching of nerves, all characteristics of diabetes, could be due to defective prostaglandin formation resulting in prostaglandin deficiency. These conditions could respond to both zinc and EPO supplementation.

Eczema

There are two types of Eczema:

(1) Dermatitis, an inflammation brought on by chemicals or cosmetics;
(2) Atopic eczema, an inflammation on the surface of the skin.

Atopic Eczema is common in patients with ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, ear problems, nasal polyps and some obstetric problems (Graham, 1989).

Research has shown for some time that people with eczema have a faulty immune system. EPO supplementation has shown beneficial effects because it is a precursor to prostaglandin PGE1, the series which helps boost the immune system. PGE1 is known to stimulate T-lymphocytes which occur in low levels in people with eczema. Low levels of T-lymphocytes result in a damaged auto-immune system.

Heart Disease

In the body GLA converts to PGE1, a substance known to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and prevent blood from clotting. Studies repeatedly conclude that polyunsaturates containing EFA's perform each of the above functions. EPO is believed to have a greater effect at lowering cholesterol than large doses of linoleic acid (Horrobin).

Female Problems

Women with PMS have been found to be low in EFA's. Low levels of EFA's may cause the body to produce low levels of prolactin, the hormone known to change moods and fluid metabolism. PGE1 is believed to be effective in reducing the effects of prolactin and therefore, reducing dramatic changes in hormone cycles.

Studies report 90% of women with PMS get dramatic relief by using EPO. Relief was seen in cramping, weight gain, mood changes, breast discomfort, anxiety, irritability, headaches and fluid retention.

Research shows that women with endometriosis and dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) also have an imbalance of prostaglandins. EPO has been reported by members of the British Endometriosis Society to offer relief from symptoms often associated with endometriosis. Such symptoms include chronic pain, fatigue, irritability, rapid mood swings, cramping, and heavy bleeding.

During the menopause, levels of oestrogen decrease. Psychological signs and symptoms include: anxiety - irritability - depression - insomnia. Some physical symptoms include: decrease in amount and duration of menstrual flow - increased frequency of urination - hot flashes - excessive perspiration, especially night sweats - joint pains - headache. Common pathological factors that may increase the chances of early onset are: stress - infection - malnutrition - radiation & surgical procedures that impair the ovarian blood supply. EPO naturally balances the body's hormonal levels and relieves discomfort.

Hyperactive Children

The Hyperactive Children's Support Group believes that two key problems with many hyperactive children may be the shortage of EFA's and a sensitivity to certain foods and food additives. Boys are naturally more hyperactive than girls. It is known that boys require at least three times as much EFA's as girls. Secondly, many of the foods and additives which are thought to lead to hyperactivity are the very things which are known to interfere in the conversion process of EFA's (Graham, 1989). There are many reasons hyperactive children do not absorb efficient amounts of EFA's: heredity, sex of the child, diet or the deficiency of vital co-factors (such as B6, Zinc, Niacin and Magnesium).

Another theory is that hyperactive children low in EFA's get very thirsty, and it is known that when animals are placed on diets low in EFA's they get very thirsty (Graham, 1989). Hyperactive children often suffer from other conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) eczema, asthma, allergies, and ear, nose and throat infections. Studies of EPO showed promising improvements in behaviour and function in two-thirds of the children studied (Graham, 1989).

Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder of inflammation and immunity, where the body produces too much of the PGE2 (Bad Guy), and not enough of PGE1 (Good Guy). PGE1 has been found to be particularly useful with a number of auto-immune diseases. PGE1 has prevented arthritis and auto-immune disease in animal studies. It is an anti-inflammatory agent and reduces the release of inflammation causing lysosomes at the joints. EPO is also important for collagen formation.

EPO has been very effective in normalising Sjogren's Syndrome, an arthritic condition which results in the failure to produce sufficient tear and saliva secretion.

The positive effects of EPO supplementation do not appear overnight. Have patience!

Fat Management

In the past few years, studies on obesity and the effects of EPO have risen. The discovery of EPO and its effectiveness on weight loss was a chance finding. Doctors at Bootham Park Hospital in York, United Kingdom discovered that several patients who were more than 10% above their body weight lost weight while taking EPO (Vaddadi and Horrobin, 1979). There was no effect on people within 10% of their ideal weight.

One explanation of the effectiveness of EPO is that GLA appears to increase the level of brown fat activity. Brown fat activity burns fat stores for energy (Clouatre, 1993). EPO contains significant quantities of cis-gamma- linolenic acid and GLA which have been shown experimentally to cause weight loss (Mowrey, 1994).

This much material cannot form a part of the primary thermogenic agent, but must be consumed separately (Mowrey, 1994).

Schizophrenia

Evidence suggests that PGE1 levels may be low in those suffering from schizophrenia and PGE2 levels may be high (Horrobin, 1980). Schizophrenic's blood platelets do not make PGE1 normally, have virtually no DGLA and small amounts of linoleic acid (Abdulla, 1975 & Hitzemann, 1981).

EPO, containing GLA with its ability to convert to PGE1 shows promising results in the treatment of schizophrenia.

Fish Oil Capsules

There is growing evidence that increased consumption of fish may be beneficial to health. Recent studies have found an association between consumption of fish oil and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as improvements in other health conditions, such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Most current research on the benefits of consuming more fish is directed at the effects derived from Omega-3 fatty acids found in many fish species. However, studies of human dietary preferences reveal up to one-half of the population may not like to eat fish. Of those who do eat fish, many prefer fish only when deep-fried, or consume non-fatty fish species, which are poorer sources of fish oil. This is one reason Salmon Oil capsules have become popular as an alternative source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Support for the use of Salmon Oil capsules comes primarily from three well-known epidemiological studies, two of which were conducted outside the United States. One study (a 20 year follow up) conducted in the Netherlands, suggested ingestion of as little as 35 grams of fish per day (a single one-half pound meal of fish per week) might help prevent coronary heart disease, possibly significantly reducing mortality due to cardiovascular disease. Further, it has been suggested a regular diet of fish may decrease levels of plasma triglycerides, plasma cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), and very low density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL).

Salmon Oil capsules supply concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The EPA/DHA rich Salmon Oil is generally sold in soft gelatine capsules. The gelatine provides an oxygen barrier which prevents the development of toxic lipid peroxides (e.g. malondialdehyde).

Method of Action

In general, dietary unsaturated fatty acids play an important role in reducing atherogenesis and thrombosis. FISH OILS appear to reduce hyperlipidemia, while decreasing the production of the prothrombotic substance, thromboxane, by enhancing the production of the platelet anti-aggregatory substance, prostacyclin.

Through the combined vasodilatory effects of prostacyclin (PGL2 and PGL3), FISH OILS may improve peripheral circulation and thereby facilitate the reduction of very low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (VLDL) removal. This may be due to a specific alteration of cell membrane fluidity, while also altering the activities of membrane- bound enzymes. This can result in changes in receptor activity, specificity and signal transduction.

FISH OILS also depress the synthesis of hepatic fatty acids and triglycerides and secretion of very low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (VLDL). One further benefit is that FISH OILS displace arachidonic acid from tissue phospholipids, resulting in omega-3 essential fatty acids inhibiting thromboxane synthesis.

The effect of FISH OILS is very selective. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) components not only displace arachidonic acid and inhibit cyclo- oxygenase, but EPA becomes a substance for cyclo-oxygenase when the peroxide tone is high and is converted to the potent anti-agregatory PGL-3. It has been suggested these findings may explain the increased bleeding time and the decreased incidence of coronary artery disease which has been reported in Japanese with high fish consumption, and in some Eskimos.

EPA and DHA rich FISH OIL has also been found to suppress production of inflammatory agents found in rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. The anti-inflammatory effect of the Omega-3 fatty acids might be mediated in part by their inhibitory effect on production of interleukin-1 and tumour necrosis factor, both principal mediators of inflammation. In cases of psoriasis vulgaris, FISH OILS produce symptomatic improvement by effecting changes in levels of the inflammatory leukotriene compounds, especially leukotriene B4. This leukotriene is a lipoxygenation product of the fatty acid arachidonic acid. The EPA in FISH OIL "replaces" the arachidonic acid in phospholipids, leading to the formation of leukotriene B5, rather than B4. Leukotriene B5 causes a much weaker inflammatory response. Neutrophils were isolated from the peripheral blood of patients given FISH OIL to treat their psoriasis. Patients whose symptoms improved with FISH OIL therapy had higher levels of leukotriene B5 than did those patients who showed no improvement.

Therapeutic Approaches

Cardiovascular Disease

In general, dietary unsaturated fatty acids appear to reduce undesirable circulating fats (e.g. in hyperlipidemia) while decreasing the production of the prothrombotic substance thromboxane. In studies involving FISH OIL as an unsaturated fatty acid, data from clinical trials show a significant reduction of levels of very low density lipo- protein cholesterol (VLDL), plasma triglycerides, plasma cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL).

These findings are important because they may explain the significant difference in mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease between certain Alaskan natives and mainland Americans. In an autopsy series of 339 Alaskan natives, Authaud found cardiovascular disease was a cause of death in only 35 (or 10.3%) of the cases, whereas it accounts for 50% of all deaths in the United States.

Recent evidence also suggests FISH OIL may prevent atherosclerosis in animal studies, despite lack of improvement in serum cholesterol levels. These findings warrant consideration given the high mortality and morbidity for those with Atherosclerosis.

For therapeutic dosages, intake of 5 grams of FISH OIL a day may be advisable. However, there is sufficient evidence to consider FISH OIL supplementation, in the range  of  2 to 10 grams per day, for patients with elevated cholesterol (7.75 mmol/liter) or triglycerides (5.64 mmol/liter).

Kinsella suggests for both prophylactic and therapeutic applications, the most benefit is derived from FISH OIL when total fat intake is lowered to 30% of calories, saturated fatty acids to no more than 30% of total fat, and omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oils) to a maximum of 10%.

Hypertention

FISH OIL seems to have hypotensive effects ranging from small (5 grams per day) to substantial (12 grams per day). Yetiv has speculated FISH OIL depresses vascular reactivity to hormones involved in hypertension. Yetiv suggested FISH OIL acted by increasing vasodilatory prostaglandins PGL2 and PGL3  and   this increase accounted or the observed reduction in blood pressure.

Nephrotic Syndrome

Both hypertriglyceridemia and hypercholesterolemia are common in patients with nephrotic syndrome. These lipid disorders are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. In one study completed in Canada, triglyceride levels decreased by 31% within nine days of FISH OIL supplementation. However, total or HDL-cholesterol levels did not change. Nine days after supplementation ceased, triglyceride levels showed a trend of returning back to their original levels.

FISH OILS may also play a role in the treatment of auto-immune (e.g. lupus erythematosis, dermatomyositis, auto-immune nephritis) and inflammatory disorders, (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis).

Lupus

(Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) SLE is a generalised connective tissue disorder tending to affect middle-aged females. It is characterised by skin eruptions, neurological manifestations, lymphadenopathy, fever and other symptoms, in addition, to a range of abnormal immunological phenomena, including hypocomplemen-
temia and hypergammaglobulinemia.

In 1989, the first controlled study of fish oil's effects on SLE was reported. Prior to then a number of anecdotal reports suggested improvement of some patients following FISH OIL supplementation. The early clinical attempts were based on animal studies using inbred mice strains, which were criticised because of questionable generalisation to human SLE patients.

Overall this resulted in significant improvements in inflammatory and atherosclerotic processes typically seen in SLE patients. These findings suggest some beneficial effects from FISH OIL supplementation. However, possible long-term benefits from FISH OIL supplementation in SLE patients have still not been studied. The first clinical trial of the benefits of FISH OIL's EPA in the alleviation of the symptoms of osteoarthritis was reported in 1989. Patients were given ibuprofen, an aspirin-like analgesic, with either 10 millilitres of EPA a day or a placebo for six months. Patients assessed the level of pain and interference they experienced in everyday activity. The average scores for these indexes "were strikingly lower in the EPA (group) than the placebo group". However, the differences were not as statistically significant as the researchers had hoped, meaning additional studies are suggested. This is the first report of FISH OIL being of benefit to patients with osteoarthiritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

A recent study of FISH OIL supplementation in patients with the inflammatory conditions of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis showed improvement. Patients taking 18 grams of fish oil concentrate (153 milligrams EPA and 103 milligrams DHA) for six weeks reported significant improvement in their condition. Samples of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from the patients showed suppressed synthesis of two principle mediators of inflammation, interleukin-1 and tumour necrosis factor. No such suppression was found in patients receiving placebo. Of interest was the finding that the anti-inflammatory effect of the FISH OILS remained strong up to four weeks after cessation of supplementation.

Psoriasis

Researchers in Denmark have successfully treated patients with psoriasis vulgaris with a  low-fat diet supplemented with FISH OIL. Only 23% of such patients did not reported either excellent, moderate or mild improve- ments in their condition. A number of patients did not show improvement until supplemented for at least four months. This may indicate the importance of allowing adequate time for clinical improvement after initiating FISH OIL therapy.

FISH OILS may improve psoriasis due to changes in inflammatory leukotriene compounds, particularly leukotriene B4, which is a lipoxygenation product of arachidonic acid, and is believed to be involved in the inflammatory process associated with psoriasis. In essence, the EPA in FISH OIL replaces arachidonic acid in phospholipids resulting in the formation of leukotriene B5 rather than B4, hence the weaker inflammatory response.

Raynaud's Disease

(Raynaud's phenomenon)
In Raynaud's disease there is an intermittent bilateral attack of ischemia (periodic cessation of blood flow and blood pressure) of the fingers, toes, or even the ears and nose. The disease afflicts females more often than males. Raynaud's phenomenon is intermittent, often accompanied by paresthesia and pain, and brought on by cold or emotional stimuli. It can usually be relieved with heat. When the condition is idiopathic or primary, it is termed Raynaud's disease.

In 1989, researchers reported results from a double-blind placebo-controlled trial showing Raynaud's disease may benefit from FISH OIL (12 FISH OIL capsules containing nearly 4 grams of EPA and 2.64 grams of docosa- hexaenoic acid (DHA). The time interval before onset of Raynaud's phenomenon, especially in those with primary Raynaud's phenomenon, was significantly increased in those patients taking FISH OIL, versus those subjects taking placebo (olive oil). Even more impressive was finding that 5 of 11 patients did not develop any Raynaud's symptoms after 6 or 12 weeks of FISH OIL supplementation when exposed to cold water baths. By comparison, this favourable response was only seen in 1 of 9 patients receiving olive oil (placebo). Whether these findings will similarly benefit patients with secondary Raynaud's phenomenon requires further study.

Balanced Ratio of GLA - EPA/DHA

As this article illustrates, both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for optimal health, and a lack of either one or both can lead to many disease conditions.

While there is no clear-cut scientific consensus of the correct balance between the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, we can look to nature to obtain guidelines on this important question. All the comparative data from various species show a predominance of the Omega-6 fatty acids over the Omega-3. Since the Omega-3 fatty acids are preferentially metabolised in the body, a ratio of 4:1 in favour of the Omega-6 fatty acids will insure a balanced composition at the cellular level. Such a ratio would be applicable when the parent acids, linoleic acid (w6 series) and alpha-linolenic acid (w3 series) are the predominant constituents in the diet. On the other hand, the longer chain derivatives such as gamma- linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-gamma- linolenic acid (DGLA), arachidonic acid (AA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are biologically more active and are incorporated into cell structure more efficiently. Also, the EPA is preferentially incorporated into cell membranes at the expense of AA. In situations where these longer chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are provided in the diet as food supplements, a ratio of 1:1 between GLA and EPA/DHA would be desirable to ensure a correct balance at the cellular level.

Food & Supplements

EPO contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a substance not found in substantial amounts in any other food. Contrary to popular belief, human milk contains very little GLA but does contain DGLA, an intermediate in the production of prostaglandin PGE1. FISH OILS, specially salmon, mackerel and herring, contain the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA, the direct precursor for prostaglandin PGE3, and DHA which is vital for brain development and, in adults, the functions of brain, nerves, vision, hearing, adrenal (stress) glands and sperm formation.

Foods rich in Essential Fatty Acids include: EPO (72% pure cis-linoleic acid and 10% gamma-linolenic acid), sunflower seed oil, safflower and corn oil, liver, kidneys, brains, sweetbreads, lean meats, legumes, green vegetables, fish (particularly oil fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and cod which are rich in EPA/DHA), shellfish, fish liver oils and linseeds. EPO is very rich in essential fatty acids, and belongs to the linoleic family. Choose cold-pressed oils where the natural anti-oxidants have not been removed. Vegetable and seed oils are most beneficial when eaten uncooked. Certain vitamins and minerals participate in the EFA to prostaglandin conversion process. Enzymes in your body work as catalysts to the conversion and these enzymes are ineffective without these nutrients. These nutrients are vitamins B6, C and B3 (niacin), and the minerals magnesium and zinc. Vitamin E and selenium are also essential.

Needs vary greatly from person to person. Estimates are that from 10-20 % of the daily caloric intake should be in the form of EFA's in order to maintain optimum health. Avoid processed foods, those made with palm or coconut oil and those high in saturated fats (fatty meats, cream, milk, butter, cheese, etc.).

Conclusion

Both Evening Primrose Oil and Borage Oil contain substantial amounts of GLA (up to 25% in the best supplements). EPO is one of the few plants to have this vital ingredient with no toxic properties. EPO is available in 1000 mg gelatine capsules of pure cold pressed, solvent-free oil.

Salmon Oil capsules containing 18% EPA and 12% EHA are also available in 1000 mg capsules.

Omega 3-6 capsules provide both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids from a blend of Primrose oil, Borage oil and Salmon oil in the ideal 1:1 ratio in one 750 mg capsule.

The majority of research carried out worldwide shows that the ideal level of GLA to be approximately 240 mg daily, plus 240 mg EPA/DHA daily

This amount can be provided in :

  • 2 or 3 - 1000 mg EPO capsules plus
  • 1 - 1000 mg Salmon Oil capsule

or

  • 3 - Omega 3-6 capsules

EFA supplements should be taken daily with meals. They are not meant to be used as a replacement for essential fatty acid requirements but should be used as supplementation to a diet to ensure adequate levels of these important metabolites.

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