We administered borage seed oil (9 capsules/day) for 12 weeks to 7 normal controls and to 7 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. The therapy provided 1.1 gm/day of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA administration resulted in increased proportions of its first metabolite, dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), in circulating mononuclear cells.

The ratios of DGLA to arachidonic acid and DGLA to stearic acid increased significantly in these cells. Significant reductions in prostaglandin E2, leukotriene B4, and leukotriene C4 produced by stimulated monocytes were seen after 12 weeks of GLA supplementation.

The antiinflammatory effects of GLA administration observed in animal models, and the apparent clinical improvement experienced by 6 or 7 rheumatoid arthritis patients given borage seed oil in this open, uncontrolled study may be due in part to reduced generation of arachidonic acid oxygenation products.