Camelina sativa is a member of the mustard family and is considered a weed by some farmers. Native to regions of Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia, it is also known as “false flax.” Recently it is getting a new look for its quality oil being prized for both biofuel and food for people and animals.
Adapted to a variety of habitats and highly resistant to pests and diseases, camelina has about 70% polyunsaturated fatty acids, notably omega-3 fatty acids. The oil meal is relatively high in protein, about 31-41%. It also contains a significant amount of vitamin E, which assists both as an antioxidant and in stabilizing the shelf life of the oil.
Camelina has been used in Europe for both people and animals, but was only recently approved by FDA for livestock feed, which is driving developers to genetically alter the natural seed. One of the benefits of camelina is growers do not have to use pesticides or herbicides as the plant is very resistant naturally and grows in poor soils.
Available in both oil and oil meal form for animals, camelina products are being offered by a growing number of companies, but there is little research on its various uses outside of cattle and chicken feed.
Camelina oil is also used on skin and hair. Costing about $60 a gallon, organic camelina oil is slightly more costly than flax oil. Results have been noted with feeding just one ounce per day to horses as compared to higher oil recommendations for other oils.
Mary Ann Simonds is an equine ecologist, horse behaviorist and natural health consultant. International author, educator and clinician, she can be reached at www.maryannsimonds.com, www.heartmindspeak.com or www.mystichorse.com. Her direct email is firstname.lastname@example.org.