USES & EFFECTIVENESS
Possibly Effective for...
Reducing the risk of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). High dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid seems to reduce the "plaque" in arteries serving the heart. Plaque is the fatty build-up that characterizes atherosclerosis.
Reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. High DIETARY intake of alpha-linolenic acid over a period of 6 years seems to reduce the risk of a first heart attack by as much as 59% in both men and women. Increasing DIETARY intake of alpha-linolenic acid by 1.0-1.2 grams per day appears to decrease the risk of death due to heart disease by 20% or more in people with or without existing heart disease. It is not known if alpha-linolenic acid supplements have these same benefits. Some research suggests alpha-linolenic acid has a greater effect on coronary heart disease when intake of fish oils is low.
High blood pressure. Eating a diet high in alpha-linolenic acid seems to reduce risk of hypertension by about a third.
Pneumonia. Eating a diet high in alpha-linolenic acid seems to reduce the risk of getting pneumonia.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
Prostate cancer. There is contradictory evidence about the role of alpha-linolenic acid in prostate cancer. Some research suggests that high dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid might increase the risk of getting prostate cancer. But other research finds no increased risk or even a slight decreased risk. Reasons for the conflicting results are not clear, but the source of alpha-linolenic acid seems to be important. Alpha-linolenic acid from dairy and meat sources has been positively associated with prostate cancer. Alpha-linolenic acid from plant sources, such as flaxseed, does not appear to affect prostate cancer risk.
Lung infections in children. Preliminary clinical research suggests that alpha-linolenic acid, in combination with linoleic acid, might reduce the number of respiratory infections in children.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
More evidence is needed to rate alpha-linolenic acid for these uses.