GLA: The Good Omega 6 that Flushes Fat

May 19, 2011

Part two in our series on Fat Flushing supplements.

Since the 1980s, many studies have focused on the power of GLA, or gamma linoleic acid, to serve as a natural aid to weight loss. Found naturally in seed oils, such as borage, evening primrose, and black currant seed oils, GLA is an essential fatty acid, which triggers fat burning instead of fat storage by boosting the metabolism in two ways: First, it fuels the burning of brown adipose tissue, a type of fat commonly dormant in overweight people. Second, it stimulates a metabolic process commonly referred to as the “sodium pump,” helping to use up nearly half of the body’s calories.

In a healthy body, GLA can be synthesized from linoleic acid, which is found in certain oils, grains, and seeds. But because of a number of common dietary and lifestyle factors in today’s society, most of our bodies don’t make that conversion. The main metabolic roadblocks are artificial transfats, sugar, smoking, alcohol, aging, and illnesses such as diabetes. All of these factors affect the body’s ability to convert linoleic acid into GLA and efficiently burn fat.

Luckily, it’s easy to give your body the GLA it needs to become an efficient fat-burning machine. GLA is found naturally in seed oils like borage oil (20-24 percent GLA), evening primrose oil (8-10 percent GLA), and black currant seed oil (about 15 percent GLA). Supplementing with these oils provides GLA in a usable form, so the body can bypass the conversion process and get down to the business of burning excess fat.

Years ago, I used to suggest using primrose oil. Today I’m hesitant because it can sometimes trigger breakthrough bleeding, as it appears to be somewhat estrogenic in some women. Instead, I recommend black currant seed oil because it has the best balance of beneficial ingredients—including omega 3s .

Recommended Usage: The recommended dose of GLA ranges from 300 to 2,000 milligrams per day. I suggest taking two 180 mg dosages of GLA-90—rich in black currant seed oil—for a 360 mg total per day.

Like other fatty acids, GLA is thought to help to elevate levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that contributes to the feeling of fullness. This is perhaps the reason why you will feel satisfied sooner, which puts the breaks on the urge to overindulge.

The benefits of GLA extend beyond weight loss. It also controls PMS symptoms, lowers high blood pressure, wards off rheumatoid arthritis, and may help certain drug-resistant cancers. And, a steady supply of GLA helps skin retain its moisture and stay supple and smooth.

Just the Facts
• Medical studies from around the world make it clear that nearly every area of the body can benefit from GLA supplementation.
• Essential fatty acids, including GLA, were “uncovered” by scientists during the 1980s.

Boost the Benefits
• It may take 3 to 6 weeks before you feel the full effects of GLA supplementation.
• GLA is most effective when taken in two divided daily doses.
• Take GLA with food to enhance its absorption and minimize the likelihood of digestive upset.
• Like other polyunsaturated fats, evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils are easily oxidized and can spoil when exposed to heat, light, and oxygen. Even softgels, which are designed to prevent oxidation, can turn rancid. Store them in a cool, dry place away from light.
• Do not cook with GLA oils. They will break down and become ineffective if exposed to high heat.

Think Twice
• It you take prescription blood thinners, such as warfarin, check with your doctor before taking evening primrose oil. This form of GLA may impair the ability of your blood to clot.
• Rancid GLA products often tend to smell “funny” and are more likely to cause digestive upset.

Part One: Fat Flushing CLA
Part Three: Feed Your Liver with Milk Thistle
Part Four: Choline Clears the Fat Log Jam

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Karen Harrington aka fitnesslady

    I have been taking Evening Primrose Oil for the GLA as it was the easiest form for me to find. My docotr reported to me the my estrogen was up. You mention in your article that you used to recommend the EPO, because of its estrogenic effects. I have a full bottle of EPO and I just ordered one. i won’t be able to return, but if you think I cut my dose donw and fishish the bottle, that it would lower the estrogen a bit? I really don’t know how high it has gotten, but she said it increased from where it was in January. I have been fighting this menopause thing for quite ahwile now.

    Thanks for any comment you can give me.

    Karen aka fitnesslady

  2. liz

    It would be good to know just how high your estrogen is. I’m sure it would help to take the EPO every other day and finish you supply that way, if your estrogen is not off the charts. You may want to take some natural progesterone to help balance the higher estrogen. ProgestaKey is what Dr. Ann Louise recommends. It’s available at

  3. zoi

    Love reading about ur health knowledge and ur advice had helped me I just wish there was something for hairloss

    • Janice

      You can take Glucomannan powder for hair loss. Look on Amazon and or Google and read about how it helps a lot with hair loss.

  4. Sierra

    zoi- try Biotin, a B complex, and the GLA-90! A hair Tissue Mineral Analysis would be helpful, too, as would a salivary hormone test. Sometimes progesterone alone can remedy the situation.

  5. Karen

    ZOI – Sierra is absolutely correct. I had huge amounts of hair fall out due to stress many years ago and took Biotin because my hair dresser recommended it. Most of it grew back in. It is not quite as thick as it was before but so much better than it was..

    I had my hair start to fall out again years later and I took biotin again but the second time it didn’t seem to work. Then in either Ann Louise’s newsletter or later blog she said to take 5,000 mg of biotin. I upped the amount I was taking and the miracle occurred again. As long as I take it there isn’t any hair in the screen in my shower drain.

    • joel

      hello Karen, which brand of biotin you take?

  6. fitnesslady

    I wanted to thank for all the comments. i wanted to come and let you know what my estrogen levels were.

    On 11/2010 Estrone was 11
    Estradiol was les than 10

    on 5/2011 Estrone was 134
    Estradiol was 381

    I have stop taking the EPO. of course my doctor didn’t really lend a why for, so I stopped that after some research on my own. I am taking a progestrone and testosterone troche. 100mg/75mg. I not sure its enough, but she wanted to stay there right now.

    I have been under alot of stress and I have been losing my hair. I will be giving the Biotin a try. Can’t hurt in my opinion. i know the menopause puts stresses on the body also, so right now I am a little overwhelmed, weight gain and can’t seem to lose it, loss of hair loss of libido, etc.

    I am drinking dandelion root tea, taking Milk Thistle, just upped from two a day to four, taking my cranberry juice, still drinking my lemon water. Hopefully I will get a break some where.

    Thanks again everyone!


  7. liz

    Sierra is also right about the Tissue Mineral Analysis and Salivary Hormone tests.
    They could be very helpful to make sure you are balanced in these areas. Hair loss is a symptom of slow metabolism and low thyroid, both of which are shown on the TMA.

  8. Dominique Collado

    How often can I do the Ultra Fat Flush plan? I know you can do it for up to 4 weeks at a time but how much time has to elapse in between if you want to do another 2-4 weeks to reach your weight loss goals?
    Thanks, Dominique.

  9. Sierra

    Dominique, If by ‘Ultra Fat Flush’ you are referencing the Smoothie Shakedown program, I would recommend 2 weeks on the Smoothie Shakedown, 1 week on Phase 2 of the Fat Flush Plan, 2 weeks on Smoothie Shakedown, and then Phase 2 of the Fat Flush Plan until you reach your goal. At that time, you may move to Phase 3, in order to maintain your weight loss!

  10. THOR

    HOW MUCH DOES IT COST, is it natural and how may i order it

  11. Angeline Sciotti

    Thank you a lot for providing individuals with an exceptionally memorable possiblity to discover important secrets from this web site. It’s always so beneficial plus jam-packed with a good time for me and my office friends to visit the blog particularly three times a week to study the latest secrets you have. And lastly, I am just usually contented with the astonishing principles you serve. Selected 3 ideas on this page are surely the very best we have ever had.

  12. Pam

    I am taking Tamoxifen to prevent the return of breast cancer. Will the use of GLA – 90 be harmful?

    • Sierra

      I can think of no reason for you to avoid the GLA-90. Be sure to take a fish oil or flax oil supplement to balance the omega 3:omega 6 ratio, which will reduce and prevent inflammation.

  13. christina paulse

    I am 66 year old female had a opp when I was in my 30 to remove my uterus ,In my 40 had my overies removed (bad cysts)Was on hormone replacement for a time .Haven’t used anythng. For the last 20yrs.Went on Evening Primrose Cap.Had Fibrosis in breast .was ok stop cap 9rs ago Now it feels if it starts again.went back on Cap I. Take 1xtwice. A day start about a wk ago .WIll this also help for my weight?and what is the best time to take it I Dec I got the most terrible rash allergy on. My legs arms and. Chest (had cortisone injxcream better now.Could that may be my imune system ..I am taking a imune booster at the moment(also taking a small disprin .I am on no medicationx thank you so much.

  14. Amy

    Can I take gla while breast feeding?

    • liz

      Yes, you can. It is a good omega-6 fatty acid.

  15. Doris Alguire

    I need to loose weight (50 lbs) I am going to take GLA & Chitsan & a good fiber. I am on 2mgs Estradoil,1mgs of Estroil, 50mgs of Progesterone & 2mgs of Testosterone. Will the GLA raise my estrogen level. Thank you

    • Team ALG

      The only way to tell for sure is to do a Salivary Hormone Test. Some women experience increased estrogen after supplementing with evening primrose oil or borage oil, but most do very well using black currant seed oil instead.

  16. Joy

    Could you please cite the research studies on GLA.

  17. ayaba esteri

    Please what exactly do you mean by “off” ? Having never used GLA before I opened one capsule of Now foods Borage Oil GLA 240mg to use on my scalp and it smelled like fresh chicken eggs. Is this the usual smell or “off” ? I hear that GLA is a DHT inhibitor and since I’m experiencing hair loss at the temples I applied the product topically. It smelled like when I use egg white mask on my face!

    • Teresa

      Hi Ayaba, Has your hair grown back on your temples? Did GLA help?

  18. liz

    I have never used Now Foods brand. Our GLA-90 has a very neutral smell. It works topically to calm inflammation and get rid of dry skin. That’s interesting that you are trying it for hair loss. Let us know how it goes!

  19. maureen

    Can you let me know if topical gla for hair loss is helpful?

    • Team ALG

      You can open the gel capsule of GLA and apply it topically. You could try it on an area and see if it helps. It does help with inflammation. I haven’t heard of it necessarily regrowing hair. Taking Ultra H-3, available at does help regrow the hair for many people.

  20. Teresa

    I have alopecia and have bald spots on my temples. I use estrogen cream and progesterone cream. Has anyone had their hair grow back? I have gained 40lbs since menopause started 3 years ago. I just started the fat flush and plan on buying CLA and GLA.

    • Team ALG

      Great to hear that you have started the Fat Flush Plan Teresa. That can help balance your hormones by detoxing your liver so you can process the estrogen.

    • Jackie

      try biotin 5000mg for hair loss

  21. Patti Perkins

    I’m doing bioidentical hormones replacement. Is it safe for me to take Borage Oil with 240 my of CLA?

    • Team ALG

      Patti, Borage oil and CLA do not have a significant affect on hormone levels when taken in the amounts suggested so should be safe to take with your hormone replacement. However it is always best to check with your health care provider.

  22. Cindy

    HAIR LOSS SOLUTION: I came for information regarding GLA—as I read that it is beneficial for weight loss as well as inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis. I read the posts regarding hair loss and growth. I can only share what I have researched and experienced. My hair line was receding terribly and my hair was getting very thin. (I am 57 yo with autoimmune disease and I suspect thyroid issues though the thyroid issue has not been diagnosed as I am awaiting doctor appointment.) I started using food-grade CASTOR OIL–massaging it into my scalp about once a week, wrapping head and leaving on for several hours or overnight. My hair grew back! My hair grew back so that my hairline in front is where it was several years ago and my hair is thicker/healthier looking all around.To determine whether that was a fluke or not, I recently started putting castor oil on my eyebrow line as I had lost most of my eyebrows. My eyebrows are growing back! The castor oil is also diminishing the brown age spots I’ve had on my arms for the past 6-7 years, and I use it on my face about once a week to keep the skin soft. I don’t know all of the science behind it but the research is pretty straight forward.

  23. MM

    I am 47, almost menopausal (11 months since last period) and have all symptoms of estrogen doninance.

    You mention that EPO can raise estrogen levels and therfore you recommend Black currant seed oil instead.

    How about borage oil? Do you know whether that has estrogenic properties?

    (I do know Borage oil needs to be filtered cuz of phyto toxins but I haven’t found any info on its influence on estrogen)

    I am raising my progesterone with wild yam cream, b6, zinc, vit C, vit E, magnesium and healthy eating/no stress.The weight gain/water retention has turned me from skinny to double my size.

  24. Team ALG

    Borage oil can be somewhat estrogenic in some women. Ann Louise recommends GLA from Black Current seed oil instead.

  25. Mr Harry

    About a month ago, I got a large burn on my leg from a firepit. After three days of applying aloe and vitamin E, the burn remained open. I was introduced to black seed oil on day four. Thank goodness for that!! The black seed oil allowed my burn to finally heal over. Now, it has completely grown a new layer of healthy dermis. I’m incredibly satisfied with black seed oil and would recommend it to anyone suffering skin problems, contact Mr Harry on his email address [email protected] today and get your black seed oil

  26. Nancy Schultz

    I am currently on Tamoxifen. Does black currant seed oil interfere with this drug? I am having a difficult time finding answers. I called my pharmacist and was told there was no interaction between Tamoxifen and Black currant seed oil. Thank you!

  27. Mandy K

    One GREAT source of GLA are hemp seeds! I originally bought it as an alternative to other protein powders for my smoothies! It is a SUPER food and is an amazing source of the most easily digestible protein. It has some other amazing fats in it as well! Thanks so much for sharing!!! ???
    I buy the hemp hearts at Costco!

  28. Kekoa

    I am taking estrogen replacement and I wanted to know if black currant would block the estrogen from increasing my estrogen levels or if it would block it from demonizing my face and body by blocking recptors???

    • Team ALG

      Kekoa, Black currant seed oil does not do any of those things.

  29. Team ALG

    There are no known side effects. It may slightly think the blood so people with bleeding disorders or going into surgery should consider this fact.



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