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Chia (Salvia hispanica)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

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

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Salvia hispanica is an annual herbaceous plant of the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Its origin is believed to be in Central America, where the seed (historically called "chian" or "chia") was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. The seeds of a related plant, Salvia columbariae (also called "golden chia"), were used primarily by Native Americans in the southwestern United States (1). The roots of another relative, Salvia miltiorrhiza (danshen), are used medicinally in China (2) and other countries (3).
  • The oval-shaped seeds of Salvia hispanica are approximately 1mm in diameter and are dark-brown to grayish-white in color. According to historians, the cultivation of chia reportedly ended with the fall of the Aztec civilization; however, chia was rediscovered in the late 1900s and is now grown commercially. Salvia hispanica seeds are thought to be high in omega-3, 6, and 9 essential fatty acids and fiber; thus, it is promoted for various health benefits.
  • Studies have suggested that incorporating common chia into chicken feed may improve the nutritional value of chicken products by increasing the omega-3 content and decreasing the cholesterol content of the meat (4) and eggs (5).
  • Rodent studies have shown that Salvia hispanica may lower serum cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoproteins), and triglycerides while increasing HDL (high density lipoproteins) (6). Furthermore, Salvia hispanica has been demonstrated to exhibit anti-tumor activity (7).
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Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

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.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

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 www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.