Could Fish Oil Help Stroke Victims Recover?

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Fish oil and omega 3 fatty acids have been on a roll lately, with study after study showing health benefits. While fish oil is anti-inflammatory, it also has the ability to promote healing. A while back I blogged that taking Motrin may ensure that your first stroke is fatal, now new research may show a way to head in the other direction-an animal model of stroke showing fish oil helps brain cells.

Why Fish Oil

Fish oil is anti-inflammatory through one of it’s components called EPA. This stuff is also found in the body and is a major factor in controlling inflammation. EPA’s evil twin is called AA, a chemical that causes inflammation. Like many villains, AA has a good side, as it’s also involved in the good inflammation that’s needed for healing. One of the things that EPA does is to help AA finish the repair job through molecules called “resolvins”. These can actually provide signals that tell your body that it’s time to finish healing and move on.

The resolution of inflammation is a key issue in chronic inflammation, which is a bad problem. Examples of chronic inflammation are the artery damage that leads to heart attacks or the slow assault on brain tissue that leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Now a new study suggests an answer to the question, “Could fish oil help stroke victims recover?”, as it found that fish oil may have new effects on brain tissue by helping it once already damaged by stroke.

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The Study

A stroke is when brain tissue is harmed, usually through a blood clot that cuts off the blood supply. The new research created artificial strokes in rats. The rats that were fed fish oil had less cell brain degeneration in certain brain regions. The rats that weren’t supplemented with fish oil also had different behaviors that correlated where their brain was damaged while the fish oil rats had no such behaviors. In the end, the fish oil seemed to be protecting injured brain cells and helping other damaged brain cells regenerate.

The upshot? If you or a loved one has an ongoing risk of stroke, fish oil is likely a good supplement choice. Since most people don’t have any idea that they will have a stroke and fish oil has many other health benefits, then it would be a good idea to just take fish oil for overall health. I’ve blogged before on how much fish oil you need to take in order to see health benefits based on other studies.

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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