Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Sesame Seed Oil

Now that I have finished my review of the QA (Quintessential Applications), I will return to describing some of my favorite supplements on Wednesday Wisdom.

In the omega 6 fatty acid pathway, long chain molecules are first converted to GLA (gamma linolenic acid). This process is often impaired by poor diet, viral infections, age, alcohol use, and various B vitamin deficiencies. You can support omega 6 fatty acid metabolism by supplementing black current seed oil, borage oil, or evening primrose oil. All three of these supplements are high in GLA. My personal preference is black current seed oil.

Once your body has acquired GLA, vitamin B6 acts as a catalyst to convert it to DGLA. At this point a highly significant crossroad is reached. In a healthy state, the body then converts DGLA into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (PG1). However, when insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, hyperlipidemia, or any aspect of metabolic syndrome is present, the DGLA is converted to pro-inflammatory PG2.

Most nutritionists recommend against supplementing omega 6 fatty acids. Their reasoning is two fold. First, we already have a lot of omega 6 fatty acids in our diet – oils of olive, corn, soy, sunflower, and safflower. Second is this ability to make inflammatory compounds from any omega 6 fatty acid.

I respectfully disagree – First, our common sources contain linoleic acid, not GLA. Because the conversion is blocked by many factors, most of us do not make enough GLA. Second, when the body converts DGLA to PG2 and ramps up inflammation, it is because the body is in a state of metabolic disease. We need to fix the metabolism, not rob the body of an essential nutrient.

This is where sesame seed oil comes into play. The enzyme that catalyzes DGLA to PG2 is called sesemase. Sesame seed oil is very high in sesamin, a chemical that denatures sesemase. In effect, sesamin blocks the abnormal shunting of DGLA to PG2, allowing the normal progress to produce PG1 from the essential fatty acid omega 6.

I have used sesame seed oil to reduce inflammation in a wide variety of conditions as a majority of my patients have some level of metabolic syndrome. For example, if you have chronic low back pain and also have an underactive thyroid, sesame seed oil might be the key to reducing the inflammation in the low back. If you are diabetic, I can almost guarantee that sesame seed oil will help reduce your inflammation. Of course, using the QA protocol I can determine if the omega 6 fatty acid pathway is impaired and if sesame seed oil will be of value in correcting metabolism.

Recently, I found some additional insight with the use of sesame seed oil that I would like to share. Several months ago I had a new patient with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). She had been suffering for years with alternating diarrhea and constipation but had suffered constant diarrhea for 6 months prior to entering my office. She also was a diabetic, taking both Glyburide and Metformin, with an average blood glucose of 268 (normal range 85-100).

In an effect to reduce her IBS inflammation, I placed her on fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids) and sesame seed oil, as these products tested well in the QA protocol. She called me after one week to complain that her blood sugar had dropped to 65 and she felt horrible. I explained that she was now overmedicated and needed to call her MD to reduce her medication. Initially, her Glyburide was cut in half, then in half again. Her Metformin was also reduced by 50% and her glucose stabilized at 120. By the way, her diarrhea resolved after two weeks.

I believe the sesame seed oil shunted the DGLA into the PG1 pathway, allowing her to manufacture insulin again is sufficient quantity that her meds needed to be reduced. It appears that reducing inflammation at the basic level of essential fatty acid metabolism can have far reaching benefits for the endocrine system. Certainly, most nutritionists have had good success using evening primrose oil, borage oil, or black current seed oil in treating symptoms of perimenopause and PMS.

Research articles from PubMed (NIH) on sesame seed oil show it is a potent facilitator of fatty acid metabolism in the liver and might have value in the treatment of high cholesterol and high triglycerides (both found in metabolic syndrome).

For years, I have used sesame seed oil to reduce inflammation in patients with insulin resistance. Now, I have begun using it to reverse that resistance. Actually, I was doing it all along; I just didn’t recognize the big picture.

If you have any aspects of metabolic syndrome and especially if you are diabetic, consider sesame seed oil. Review your intake of omega 6 fatty acids from the diet. Although they are essential, if you can not use them properly, they will increase inflammation in the body.