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Linolenic Acid

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Linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid (EFA) that includes two main forms: alpha linolenic acid (ALA, omega 3) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA, omega 6). Linolenic acid is integral for proper function of the skin barrier. EFAs (Omega 6 and Omega 3) cannot be synthesized by the skin, which is how they’ve earned their “essential” title. Non-essential fatty acids (saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides), while still beneficial, can be synthesized in our body. So, EFAs must be obtained from external sources. EFAs have important roles in both the dermal and epidermal layers of the skin, and therefore maintaining their concentrations has a direct impact on its health and appearance.1

The structure of stratum corneum is like a brick wall. The corneocytes or “bricks” are surrounded by the intercellular lipid lamellae that act like the “mortar” which maintains both integrity and permeability of the skin barrier. 1 Applying linolenic acid topically supports the integrity of this “mortar”. 1 GLA, a rare occurrence in nature and prized for its anti-inflammatory abilities, is a remarkable treatment for atopic dermatitis and other skin disorders.2

[1] Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. Published 2017 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
[2] Simon D, Eng PA, Borelli S, et al. Gamma-linolenic acid levels correlate with clinical efficacy of evening primrose oil in patients with atopic dermatitis. Adv Ther. 2014;31(2):180–188. doi:10.1007/s12325-014-0093-0


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