Scientific Name(s): Salvia columbariae Benth., Salvia hispanicaI L.
Common Name(s): Chia, Salba
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Nov 1, 2018.
Findings from small clinical studies are equivocal with regard to the effect of chia seed supplementation in type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Evidence is lacking to support a purported use as a weight-loss supplement in the absence of other dietary restrictions.
Adequate clinical studies are lacking to inform dosing guidelines. Milled chia seed 25 to 50 g daily in divided doses has been used in studies evaluating efficacy in patients with type 2 diabetes. Lesser amounts (around 15 g) have been proposed as a nutritional supplement to provide dietary fiber and unsaturated fatty acids.
Not yet established, aside from allergy to chia or related species.
Avoid use until a lack of toxicological effects has been established. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
Caution is warranted if used concurrently with anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) or antiplatelet agents (eg, aspirin, clopidogrel, prasugrel) due to case reports with related species.
Limited clinical studies exist; however, no clinically important adverse effects have been reported.
Information regarding the toxicity of chia is limited.
- Lamiaceae (mint)
S. hispanica L. and S. columbariae Benth. are both considered to be chia and are related to Salvia miltiorrhiza (danshen) and Salvia officinalis (sage) (see also Danshen and Sage monographs). Chia is an annual herb growing up to 1 m in height and able to thrive in arid conditions. The flowering part of the plant is at the end of the stem, with purple or white fused flowers developing in clusters. The seeds are small and oval in shape (1 to 2 mm in diameter) and are mottled brown, gray, black, and white.Mohd 2012, USDA 2014
Chia seeds are a source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, protein, and fat. The seeds contain approximately 250 to 390 g of oil/kg, with the majority as polyunsaturated omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, and smaller amounts of omega-6 linoleic acid as well as monounsaturated and saturated fat. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E have been identified and elements that include calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Chia seeds do not contain gluten. The composition of the seeds varies under differing environmental conditions. Phenolic compounds, including myricetin, quercetin, kaempferols, and caffeic acid, have been identified. Chia roots are reported to contain tanshinones.Adams 2005, Ayerza 2009, Capitani 2013, Ixtaina 2008, Mohd 2012, Olivos-Lugo 2010, Peiretti 2009, Sandoval-Oliveros 2013
Uses and Pharmacology
A decrease in insulin resistance was observed in a study in rats.Oliva 2013
Limited small studies conducted by a single group of researchers have demonstrated decreased postprandial glycemia in healthy volunteers,Ho 2013, Vuksan 2010 but not in patients with type 2 diabetes.Vuksan 2007 A study conducted among people with metabolic syndrome (N = 67) found a decrease in blood glucose with consumption of chia seeds in combination with other measuresMohd 2012; however, among overweight adults (N = 90), there was no change in glucose levels with chia seed 50 g daily supplementation over 12 weeks.Mohd 2009
There are no animal data regarding the use of chia seeds or oil for antihypertensive effect.
A small clinical study conducted in 21 patients with type 2 diabetes reported a decrease in systolic blood pressure (6.3 mm Hg [+/− 4 mm]; P < 0.001) after 12 weeks of chia seed supplementation.Vuksan 2007 Decreases in C-reactive protein and von Willebrand factor were also noted. No change in blood pressure or other cardiovascular markers were found among 90 overweight participants who supplemented their diet with chia seeds 50 g daily for 12 weeks.Nieman 2009
Supplementation with chia seed increased polyunsaturated fat content in chicken eggs and improved nutritional quality of meat in chickens, rabbits, and pigs.Ayerza 2002, Coates 2009, Oliva 2013, Peiretti 2008
In a small clinical study (N = 10), consumption of chia seed 25 g/day over 7 weeks resulted in an increase in plasma alpha-linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid.Jin 2012 No change in the lipid profile, body mass, or composition occurred in 90 overweight participants who supplemented their diet with chia seeds 50 g daily for 12 weeks.Nieman 2009
A study evaluating chia seed as a source of energy found enhanced endurance, not performance, among athletes.Illian 2011 Chia oil inhibited the growth and metastasis of adenocarcinoma in mice, possibly due to the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content.Espada 2007 Topically, the oil acted as an emollient in a small study of pruritus.Jeong 2010 Chia has been used as alternative ingredients to eggs and oil in cakes.Borneo 2010
Adequate clinical studies are lacking to inform dosing guidelines. Milled chia seed 25 to 50 g/day in divided doses has been used in studies evaluating efficacy in type 2 diabetes.14, Nieman 2009 Lesser amounts (around 15 g) have been proposed as a nutritional supplement to provide dietary fiber and unsaturated fatty acids.Jones 2012
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use until a lack of toxicological effects has been established. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Related S. officinalis (sage) exhibits emmenagogue and abortifacient effects; however, S. miltiorrhiza has been used for pregnancy-related hypertension.Ernst 2002
Cases reports cite enhanced anticoagulation and bleeding in patients on long-term warfarin who consumed related S. miltiorrhiza (danshen), and so a similar effect might be seen with the root of S. hispanica and S. columbariae due to the presence of tanshinones. Caution is therefore warranted if chia is used concurrently with anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) or antiplatelet agents (eg, aspirin, clopidogrel, prasugrel).Adams 2005, Cheng 2007, Ernst 2002, Hu 2005
Limited clinical studies exist.Vuksan 2007 A case report of complete distal esophageal obstruction by a gel of hydrated chia seeds was reported in an adult 12 hours after consuming a tablespoon of dry chia seeds followed by a glass of water. His medical history was positive for asthma, seasonal allergies, and a long history of intermittent dysphagia to solids.Rawl 2014
Information regarding the toxicity of chia is limited. A study in chickens found a decrease in egg production among white hens who received chia seed in amounts greater than 140 g.Ayerza 2000
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