Many of our acupuncture patients ask if there are any nutritional supplements that we recommend for their specific condition, and fish oil is clearly the one I recommend most frequently. Based on both my clinical experiences and and recent research findings, I believe in its ability help people with chronic pain, depression, fertility issues, as well as complicated chronic medical conditions where inflammation may play a role, and to benefit brain development in babies.
Unlike many supplements, the benefits of fish oil are supported by some really substantial research1. There are a number of key areas where recent findings have demonstrated its potential benefits:
Pain and Inflammation: In the acupuncture clinic we see many people with problems due to inflammation. The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil, particularly EPA, have a very positive effect on the inflammatory response. This can have a dramatic effect on people with painful conditions like arthritis, prostatitis, and cystitis.
Fertility: Many people report that fish oil improves fertility. It seems to do this by reducing inflammation, improving sperm motility, and reducing cholesterol levels. These are all factors that are frequently associated with fertility issues.
Cardiovascular Health. Fish oils have a tremendously beneficial effect on your heart, and on the miles of arteries and veins that make up your cardiovascular system. They can help to lower cholesterol, tryglicerides, LDLs and blood pressure, while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol.
Stroke and Heart Attack. Strokes and heart attacks are frequently caused by clots of plaque that break loose from the arterial walls – omega 3 fatty acids break down these clots before they can get loose and cause damage.
Childhood Disorders: Research is increasingly demonstrating the ability of fish oil to help children (and indeed adults) with ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and compulsive disorders. If you have a child with any of these issues, this should be your first course of action.
Brain Function and Intelligence: Fatty acids help childhood disorders because of the way they work in the brain. Similarly, omega 3 works in the brain of adults to improve memory, recall, reasoning and focus. When taken by pregnant women and nursing mothers, it can have a positive effect on the intelligence and happiness of their babies.
Less Depression and Psychosis: Another way in which fish oils effect the brain is by reducing the symptoms of depression, bipolar disorders, and psychosis.
Reduction of Breast, Colon and Prostate Cancer: Finally, there is evidence that fish oil can help to reduce the incidence of breast, colon and prostate cancer.
When you weigh up all the evidence, it is clear that this is a supplement that most everyone should consider taking.