Ask Dr. Stoll

Information About Combining Conventional &Alternative Medicine


Essential Oils

Practical advice to determine whether essential oils will help you.

The body can't make certain oils that are necessary for healthy function of many areas of metabolism. Those oils MUST be obtained from the environment. This is exactly the same as vitamins. The definition of vitamins are things that cannot be made within the body and so MUST be obtained from outside the body. Essentially, these are "Fat Vitamins".

ESSENTIAL amino acids are the same; they cannot be made inside the body so they are "protein vitamins".

Evening Primrose Oil, Black Current Oil and Borage Oil all contain Omega-6 oils that fit this description. The cold-water fish oils you have been hearing about contain Omega-3 oils that fit this description--as does Flaxseed oil (for those strict vegetarians). Your body needs both omega 3s AND 6s for best results although either one alone will help a lot.

It would be too much to list all the metabolic pathways that are dependent upon these substances. It would be like trying to list EVERYTHING that vitamins do. You could read up on essential oils from stuff you would find at any Food Co-op, GOOD health-food store or library.

Just a few conditions benefitted by taking these oils, which are already in the Medical Journals (10+ years late), are:

  1. arthritis
  2. hormonal problems
  3. allergies
  4. mental problems
  5. chronic rashes
  6. depressed immunity
  7. hypertension
  8. atherosclerosis
  9. etc.

Borage oil is probably the most inexpensive source of Omega 6's. Black Currant oil is next and Evening Primrose the most expensive (possibly because it is the best known, having been reported first). It is important to look for how much Gamma Linolenic Acid there is in each capsule in order to know how much you are REALLY paying for your supply. More than 1500 mgm of gamma linolenic acid a day is unlikely to create more benefits. Martha Kent did some research on cost comparisons.

I just reread this article and realized that I had not made the dosages plain. I know the reason was that they can be very individual. That is why I recommended reading up on both omega 3's and 6's.

Gamma linolenic acid and linoleic acid are the active omega 6's you need. Docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid are the main omega 3 oils (most inexpensively available from fish oils but also present in flaxseed oil).

You have to read the fine print of any product you buy as the concentrations of these oils vary greatly from product to product. To start out, a person weighing about 150 pounds needs about 1500 mgm of omega 6 and at least 5000 mgm of omega 3's per day. After a few months, you should have the majority of your benefits. THEN, you could cut the dose in half and see if the benefits persisted. Every few months you could cut the dose again until your symptoms started coming back. Then you would know you had finally cut the dose too far and go back to the last dose that gave you maximum benefits. You should then continue that dose forever as it is what your body/mind needs for most efficient function. If you ever have a flare-up, you should go back to the maximum dosage until you are better again.

If you want to know why this information is being withheld from the public, read Health at the Crossroads by Dean Black, PhD. Call Valeen Burdal at 801-768-0560 for a copy. I would appreciate any feedback. Share a copy with someone you care for who has an open mind.

The implications of this information are more completely covered in my book .

Please share feedback with the BB participants.


Here is the article posted by Martha Kent on January 05, 1997 at 17:13:36, with a preface by Dr Stoll about dosages, repeated from the above article.

Recommended dosage: To start out, you need about 1500 mgm of omega 6 and at least 5000 mgm of omega 3's per day. After a few months, you should have the majority of your benefits. THEN, you could cut the dose in half and see if the benefits persisted. Every few months you could cut the dose again until your symptoms started coming back. Then you would know you had finally cut the dose too far and go back to the last dose that gave you maximum benefits. You should then continue that dose forever as it is what your body/mind needs for most efficient function. If you ever have a flare-up, you should go back to the maximum dosage until you are better again.

Glossary:
EFA is Essential Fatty Acids
EPA is Eicosapentaenoic Acid (an omega 3 oil)
DHA is Docosahexaenoic Acid (an omega 3 oil)
Alpha-LA is Alpha Linolenic Acid (an omega 3 oil)
GLA is Gamma Linolenic Acid (an omega 6 oil)
LA is Linoleic Acid (an omega 6 oil)

Several months ago, Walt asked for a more complete comparison of the cost of flax, fish, borage, etc. Nature's Pride provides a capsule of 300 mg. of EPA (from fish) for $.07 Borlean's Flax Oil provides 4500 mg. of alpha-linolenic in 1 T for $.42. This looks like 15 times as much O3 but the article by Michael Murray, N.D. calculates costs using 5.0 g. alpha linolenic in flax oil and only 1.8 g. eicosapentaenoic from fish oil. So you need only one-third as much fish as flax oil..

If the arithmetic is correct, it means that fish oil is only a little cheaper, costing $.35 for one-third the quantity of O3. Borlean's Flax oil is $10.60 for 12 oz. of flax oil = 25 servings, and I guess the reason it is not more servings has something to do with the solids because there are usually 48 T in 3 C or 12 oz. The label states that alpha-linolenic is 48% of the 1 T, the rest being omega 6 16%, and omega 9 16% and flax particulates 19%.

Here is the complete table from the Murray article "A Quick Guide to Flax Oil" which I picked up as a reprint from the health food store so cannot give the source. I would guess it came from Health Counselor. I do not know how the author arrived at such a low quote for flax oil. Maybe the article is not recent.

Cost Comparison of EFA Products
Source Daily Dosage Average cost
O6's Evening Primrose (9% GLA) 1.4 g. GLA $90 per month
Black Current (17% GLA) 1.4 g. GLA $90 per month
Borage capsules (22% GLA) 1.4 g. GLA $75 per month
Borage liquid 1.4 g. GLA $60 per month

O3's EPA (fish oils)
(180 mg. EPA/1000 mg) 1.8 g. EPA $70 per month
Flax capsules (55% alpha-LA) 5.0 g. alpha-LA $18 per month
Flax liquid (55% alpha-LlA) 5.0 g alpha-LA $12 per month

Any corrections appreciated. Martha


Posted by Martha Kent on February 02, 1997 at 22:20:49 (edited slightly and formatted by Bill Stoll Email)

Hi Walt: A while back there was a question about the accuracy of the label on flax oil. Borlean's stated:

High lignin form:

  • 48% alpha-linolenic (O 3's) and
  • 16% linoleic (O 6's)

Regular form:

  • 56% O 3's and
  • 17% O 6's

Udo Erasmus in Fats That Heal lists 58% and 14%, and John Finnegan in Facts About Fat shows 57% and 18% so it looks like they agree on composition.

Erasmus recommends that a ratio of O6 to O3 should be 2:1 or 3:1 because contemporary diets have too much O6 from s afflower and corn oil. He says that flax oil with a 1:3 ratio quickly makes up for O3 deficiency but exclusive use will result in O6 deficiency symptoms. I would interpret this as supporting the taking of a capsule of borage O6 with one tablespoon of the flax. Erasmus has interesting lists of symptoms of O6 and O3 deficiencies but is not easy to read.


Posted by Walt Stoll on February 03, 1997 at 09:07:11:

In Reply to [the above article]

Dear Martha,

As I have shared with BB participants on several occasions: "Organic Chemistry gave me my only "C" in medical school". It certainly is not my best subject. I am learning THIS stuff along with everyone else. I really appreciate your input since it helps fill in what I am learning.

Recently, there has been a lot more learned about the differences between the O3s in Flaxseed Oil and the O3s of fish oil. I always believed that O3s were O3s, regardless of their origin. It turns out that that is not true and even Erasmus is going to have to alter his next printing. We are really just in the infancy of learning about our internal differences.

You could get the most recent information from the following sources:

Burgess JR et al. Omega-3 fatty acids in boys with behavior, learning and health problems. PHYSIOL BEHAVIOR 1996; 59:915-20.

Clandinin MT et al. Normal subjects consuming physiological levels of 18:3(n-3) and 20:5 (n-3) from flaxseed or fish oils have characteristic differences in plasma lipid and lipoprotein fatty acid levels.J NUTR 1996; 126:2130-40.

Mardens Y et al. GC-MS profiling of urinary organic acids evaluated as a quantitative method. CLIN CHEM 1996; 42:1609-15.

I certainly hope that someone with a degree in chemistry happens upon this note and helps explain the clinical significance of these new findings. I'm sure there is some. I further hope that they will share what they learned with the rest of us.

As I learn more, I will do my best to share that information with everyone. At this point, what I am most interested in is how this new information will change what we do clinically. The best that I understand right now is that we will stop recommending that everyone start taking one, or the other, of O3s or O6s to see what benefit one, or the other, will do before trying any combination. It seems that the majority of people need both to evaluate the effectiveness of taking essential oils. It seems that they are complementary to each other rather than additive. That is true of whether flaxseed OR fish oils are used as sources of O3s.

As I learn more, I may have to change my story again. We are talking about the cutting edge of progress here. I just learned this additional information yesterday. I am glad that you happened to put this note here today.

Namaste` Walt