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Chia (Salvia hispanica)

Alternate Title

  • Salvia hispanica

Related Terms

  • Chia, chia fresca, cryptotanshinone, dan shen (Chinese), danshen (Chinese), golden chia, ilepesh (Chumas), Lamiaceae (family), Mexican chia, miltionone, pashi (Native American), running food, Salba®, SalbaMune™, Salvia columbariae, Salvia columbariae Benth., Salvia hispanica L., Salvia miltiorrhiza, tanshinone, white Salba®.

Background

  • Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) is a plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Chia is believed to have come from Central America where the chia seed was considered a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. Native Americans in the southwestern United States used the seeds of a related plant, “golden chia” or Salva columbariae. People in China and other countries use the roots of another relative, “dan shen” or Salvia miltiorrhiza, for medicinal purposes.
  • Chia is promoted for its high omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 content. Animal studies suggest that chia may lower blood cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoproteins or “bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides while increasing HDL (high density lipoproteins or “good” cholesterol). Chia may also have anti-cancer activity. Studies in humans are limited.
  • Salba® is a registered variety of chia that is marketed by Core Naturals, LLC. Light in color, Salba® reportedly contains more omega-3 fatty acids than typical dark-colored chia seeds. Recent human studies suggest that Salba® may decrease the risk of heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

    C C – C


    B B – B

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • Adults (18 years and older)

    • Chia seeds have been studied for up to four weeks at a maximum dose of 10 grams. The recommended serving by the manufacturer of Salba® is 2 tablespoons (15 grams), which reportedly contains more than 3,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, 5 grams of fiber, and various minerals.
    • For the prevention of cardiovascular disease, 33-41 grams per day of Salba® has been provided for 12 weeks, in ground form or incorporated into bread.
  • Children (under 18 years old)

    • For children ages 4.5-19 years, the average chia consumption may be 1.4 grams daily with a maximum daily dose of 4.3 grams. The manufacturer of Salba® has recommended up to 1 tablespoon of chia per day for children.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Allergies

    • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to chia, its constituents, or members of the genus Salvia. Allergic reactions to chia protein are possible, as are cross-reactivity reactions in people allergic to sesame and mustard seed.
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • Although chia seeds and golden chia have been consumed as food for centuries, there is currently limited safety data available on chia or Salba®. Gastrointestinal side effects have been reported.
    • Chia should be used cautiously in people with low blood pressure or in people taking heart medications, due to the risk for additive effects.
    • Chia should be avoided in people taking anticoagulants (blood-thinners) such as warfarin, due to an increased risk for bleeding.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • Chia cannot be recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to a lack of scientific safety data.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Interactions with Drugs

    • In theory, chia may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with anticoagulants (blood- thinners) such as warfarin. Salba® may lower blood pressure and should be used with caution in those taking heart medications due to the risk for additive effects. Chia may have anti-cancer activity and may add to the effects of anti-cancer drugs. Chia may affect the way in which the liver breaks down some drugs.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • In theory, chia may interact with herbs and supplements that have anti-clotting activity, such as ginkgo, garlic, and Dong quai. Salba® may lower blood pressure and should be used with caution in those taking herbs and supplements that also lower blood pressure or have other effects on the heart. Chia may have anti-cancer activity and may add to the effects of herbs and supplements with anti-cancer effects. Chia may affect the way in which the liver breaks down some herbs or supplements.
    • Chia contains antioxidants and may therefore add to the activity of other antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E. Chia contains omega-3 fatty acids and may add to the effect of other herbs and supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

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    View Abstract
  • Adams JD, Wang R, Yang J, et al. Preclinical and clinical examinations of Salvia miltiorrhiza and its tanshinones in ischemic conditions. Chin Med 2006;1:3.
    View Abstract
  • Ayerza R, Coates W, Lauria M. Chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) as an omega-3 fatty acid source for broilers: influence on fatty acid composition, cholesterol and fat content of white and dark meats, growth performance, and sensory characteristics. Poult Sci 2002;81(6):826-837.
    View Abstract
  • Ayerza R Jr, Coates W. Effect of dietary alpha-linolenic fatty acid derived from chia when fed as ground seed, whole seed and oil on lipid content and fatty acid composition of rat plasma. Ann Nutr Metab 2007;51(1):27-34.
    View Abstract
  • Espada CE, Berra MA, Martinez MJ, et al. Effect of Chia oil (Salvia Hispanica) rich in omega-3 fatty acids on the eicosanoid release, apoptosis and T-lymphocyte tumor infiltration in a murine mammary gland adenocarcinoma. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2007;77(1):21-28.
    View Abstract
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    View Abstract
  • Reyes-Caudillo E, Tecante A, Valdivia-López MA. Dietary fibre content and antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds present in Mexican chia (Salvia hispanica L.) seeds. Food Chemistry 2008;107(2):656-663.
  • Vuksan V, Whitham D, Sievenpiper JL, et al. Supplementation of conventional therapy with the novel grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) improves major and emerging cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: results of a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care 2007;30(11):2804-2810.
    View Abstract
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    View Abstract