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A Wild Native UK Plant Might Drastically Improve the Health and Wellness of Chronically Ill Patients

Buglossoides Arvensis, Commercially known as Ahiflower

YORK, NORTH YORKSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM, January 12, 2023 / -- Total parental nutrition (TPN) is used by patients in England for approximately 1.2 million days per year. (1) Administering TPN is considered a treatment of last resort for providing complete nutrition to patients with severely compromised digestive pathways, such as Crohn’s disease or bowel cancer sufferers. All nutrients are delivered as a lipid emulsion, containing either soybean oil or fish oil as a source of essential omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, however, these emulsions are often associated with damaging side effects including inflammation, reduced immune function, reduced glucose sensitivity and poor gut microflora.

Research conducted by the University of Alberta in Edmonton Canada looked at using oil from the seeds of Buglossoides Arvensis, a common weed found in the UK, locally known as Corn Gromwell, and compared them to soybean and fish oil in a TPN study using mice. (2) The results were striking – significantly lower inflammation, marked improvement in key immunity factors significantly improved insulin sensitivity and an improved gut microflora.

Prof. Michael Zaugg from the University of Alberta said ‘The results of our study demonstrate that a novel lipid emulsion based on this oil has remarkable anti-inflammatory, insulin-sensitizing and immunity enhancing properties acting as “immunonutrition” during TPN. This unique oil could be of particular benefit to vulnerable patients at risk of infection, sepsis patients with “immune paralysis” as well as cancer patients.’

Buglossoides Arvensis, commercially known as Ahiflower, is a native weed species throughout Europe and is now being cultivated as a specialty oilseed crop by UK farmers who follow regenerative agricultural practices. It is primarily used in dietary supplements as a sustainable plant-based alternative to fish oil.

“We started growing Corn Gromwell as a replacement for oilseed rape and have found it to be an excellent break crop that is financially viable in its own right. Its lower agrochemical input requirements and smaller carbon footprint fit well with our regenerative approach to farming, particularly at a time of very high fertilizer costs. We like the fact that there does not have to be a trade-off between environmental and financial gain. Ahiflower brings diversity to the rotation and the soil structure enhancing benefits after growing the crop making it an ideal entry for direct drilled wheat. We are unlikely to go back to growing OSR again,” said Iain Hurst, Farmer, Yorkshire.

Each year approximately 20 million tonnes of small oily fish are ‘harvested’ from the oceans to produce omega-3 oil for supplements for humans and pets, and GOED (The Global Organization for EPA and DHA) states that it’s imperative that alternative, sustainable non-marine sources of omega-3’s are found and produced.

"The unnecessary production of fish oil from pivotal species such as anchovies, sardines, and menhaden is having a devastating effect on our oceans. These fishes play an essential role in marine food webs and carbon capture. Replacing fish oil with seed oils that offer similar health benefits, are grown regeneratively, and can include value-added products must be embraced. Our oceans and planet depend on it,” observed Dr. Andy J. Danylchuk, Professor of Fish Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Patagonia Fly Fishing Ambassador.

Pauline Cox, MSc, Nutritionist, Author and Co-Founder of Sow and Arrow in the UK has worked with Buglossoides Arvensis seed oil and sees its great potential as a UK-grown, regeneratively farmed superfood that greatly improves human health and wellness, but not at the expense of the planet. “The development of this new formulation, encompassing sustainably grown Ahiflower, is incredibly exciting. It reflects the optimism in using novel plant-based approaches to improve upon clinically unsatisfactory outcomes in patients reliant on lifesaving TPN,” she observed. “Not only does this novel approach mitigate against some of the risks of standard TPN such as diabetes-like conditions and liver toxicity. It may also see benefits in anti-inflammatory effects in insulin sensitive tissues. This research opens a door to further explore ideas for the uses of natural medicine rooted in modern science.”

Philip Calder, Professor of Nutritional Immunology, Head of Human Development & Health at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton, who is a world-renowned omega-3 researcher said, “This is an interesting and exciting development that suggests potential for this new UK-grown plant oil to be part of the strategy for nutrition support of vulnerable groups of patients. It is intriguing that, in this experimental setting, Ahiflower oil performed at least as well as fish oil and sometimes better, given that fish oil is already used in clinical practice.”


1. Stewart JAD, Mason DG, Smith N, et al. (2010). A Mixed Bag. An enquiry into the care of hospital patients receiving parenteral nutrition. National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD). Accessed online: downloads/PN_report.pdf (July 2015)
2. Lucchinetti E, Novel lipid emulsion for total parenteral nutrition based on 18-carbon n–3 fatty acids elicits a superior immunometabolic phenotype in a murine model compared with standard lipid emulsions, Am J Clin Nutr 2022;0:1–15

Jacqueline Rizo
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