Nurture Integrative Health

Fish oil: a powerful anti-inflammatory 

The number one question I get from patients and colleagues is, “What do you do after sustaining a brain injury?” FISH OIL, FISH OIL, FISH OIL. 

Of course, any successful treatment approach includes more than fish oil, but it certainly is one of the first treatments I advise. 

Why fish oil? 

A heavy duty anti-inflammatory fish oil stops secondary injury cascade brought from a traumatic brain injury. Secondary injury cascade includes neuroinflammation, excitatory neurotransmitters, imbalance of ions, and free radicals. 

How it works: 

The brain’s main nutrients are fat. It’s the reason that the ketogenic diet has such a profound impact on neurological disorders. 

Fish oil reduces a leaky blood-brain barrier which prevents damaging substances from crossing. It also decreases IL-1B, which is a proinflammatory cytokine. It helps protect neurons and can improve membrane function, which improves memory and cognitive symptoms. Fish Oil also helps to prevent glutamate (excitatory) toxicity, which leads to damage to neurons and often anxiety. 

Brain Health

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) vs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is stored in the neuronal cell phospholipids and is highly beneficial to counteracting glutamate. After a TBI, fish oil with higher levels of DHA than EPA can help reduce protein oxidation and improve neuronal function.

What if I am allergic to shellfish and other seafood?

Flaxseed oil or freshly ground flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds are good nutritional ways to increase your Omega 3 and 6 intake.

Cautions: anyone on blood thinners or concern of a brain bleed should use caution with fish oil due to its anticoagulant properties.

PMID: 22867826, 27705610

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