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From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Database of phytochemicals
Date: Thu, 3 May 2001 13:52:12 -0700

>> beta linolenic acid
>> gamma linolenic acid
>> delta linolenic acid.
>> and couldn't discover what the other linolenic acids were.
>> Any ideas anyone?
>There is dihomo-gamma linolenic acid (DGLA) in the linoleic acid pathway
>below gamma linolenic acid, but I couldn't find a listing for that --
>probably doesn't occur in plants, only a product of linoleic.
>If you click on the 'chemical' link on the search page you get a chemical
>listing which helps to pick some complex names, but you probably tried
>No, I don't understand what the linolenic acid listing includes. Very
>odd. I don't even understand what linolenic acid is.
>Paul R

That's because it's not one thing. These are a bunch of natural products
connected originally with flax/linseed oil (hence the name. The oil is from
the seeds of flax, LINUM in Latin, which has a long fibered leaf used for
spinning. The word LINE is a cognate. Also the cloth woven from it
(LINEN), and plastics made from it like linoleum.

Chemically, however, the fact that these are from the same source doesn't
mean they are chemically related in any reasonable nomenclatural way.
They are all polyunsaturates, and they all oxidize rapidly.  Other than
that, they differ in placement of double bonds.  Alfa-linolenic acid is
the omega-3 which you need in your diet, and which you can make DHA and
EPA from. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) has the very same spelling
(linoLENic, not linoleic) but is an omega-6 like linoleic, despite the
name.  It and dihomogamma-linolenic are found in certain plant oils also
(evening primrose, borage, etc) and have mildly anti-inflammatory
properties, as do the omega-3 FFAs.

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