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Tip 112: Take an EFA with Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) to Decrease Sciatica and Low Back Pain

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 9:31 AM
Got low back pain or sciatica that just won’t go away with exercise and rehab? Take gamma linolenic acid, called GLA, to decrease pain and improve your mobility. Low back pain is a widespread and disabling musculoskeletal disorder that affects 25 percent of Americans at any given time. It is common in athletes and recreationally-trained individuals alike. Low back pain commonly leads to sciatic nerve injury, especially if the low back pain is caused by lumbar disc herniation.

Recent research found that supplementing with a combination of GLA and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) combined with rehabilitative exercise for the low back is effective in treating low back pain and sciatica. The study compared a group that only performed the rehabilitative exercise program with a group that exercised and supplemented with 600 mg of ALA and 360 mg of GLA daily. The ALA/GLA supplement group saw significant improvements in feelings of numbness and tingling in the lower back. Additionally, there was a dramatic decrease in reports of stabbing and burning pain in the lumbar region. This group had significant improvements in quality of life and overall mobility.

Researchers noted that while surgery is one treatment for low back pain, there is no clear evidence that surgery is more beneficial than conservative treatment in the form of GLA/ALA supplementation and rehab. Moreover, after surgery, patients are commonly affected by continued neuropathic pain after surgery. Clearly, GLA is an excellent option for treating low back pain if you combine it with rehabilitative and low back strengthening exercises.

Poliquin Performance offers a few options for supplementation that are worth noting. To get the powerful combination of GLA and ALA at once, the OPTI-EFA Synergy 2.0 is a great choice because it also provides fish and flaxseed oil. If you want additional GLA in your diet, try the GLA 240 2.0, which gives you 240 mg of GLA and a nice dose of vitamin E—a great supplement for lowering cholesterol levels and supporting cardiovascular health.


Ranieri, M., Sciuscio, M., Cortese, A., Santamato, A., DiTeo, L., Ianieri, G., Bellomo, R., Stasi, M., Megna, M. The use of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and rehabilitation in the treatment of back pain: effect on health-related quality of life. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. 2009. 22(3 Suppl), 45-50.

Ranieri, M., Sciuscio, M., Cortese, A., Santamato, A., Stasi, M., Megna, M., Panza, F. Possible Role Alpha-Lipoic Acid in the Treatment of Peripheral Nerve Injuries. Journal of Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injury. 2010. 5(15).

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