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Omega-3 fatty acids: help against mental illness? Researchers led by Prof. Paul Amminger from the Universities of Vienna and Melbourne have discovered new findings to improve brain activity in connection with polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids.
The researchers carried out a one-year study with 41 test subjects, all of whom belonged to a risk group for a psychosis disease. They took fish oil capsules with 1.2 grams of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids for 12 weeks. 40 subjects in a control group took a placebo.
During the one year observation period, only 4.9 percent of the group who took fish oil capsules developed a psychosis. In the control group it was 27.5 percent. The risk of developing a psychosis thus decreased by around 25 percent. The test subjects who took the omega-3 fatty acids experienced improvement in their symptoms and the restrictions they caused in everyday life. To an extent that those affected could feel and perceive this themselves.
Psychoses as a serious turning point Around 2-3 percent of the population suffer from psychotic illnesses. Most of these occur for the first time in adolescents or young adults. Since they often chronify and represent a serious cut in the lives of those affected and their families, fast and effective help is usually required. A preventive treatment option has so far been poorly researched. According to the researchers, “there are signs that enable patients with a high risk of psychotic disorders to be identified.” Psychosis “only occurs very rarely suddenly and“ out of nowhere ”. In most cases, symptoms have subsided for weeks or years. “Already in this phase, Prof. Amminger and colleagues want to use their work.
Treatment with a natural substance The researchers indirectly build on naturopathy by performing treatment with a substance that occurs in nature. One advantage here is that no clinically relevant side effects have been observed when fish oil is given as a natural remedy. The omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil are also said to have a protective effect on the heart and circulation. British doctors recently observed that more than one serving of fish (salmon, herring, white meat like plaice and halibut) a week also reduced the risk of diabetes by 25 percent. They assume that the effects of the fatty acids are that they cause changes in the cell membranes. As a result, they influence the neurotransmitter systems in the brain of those affected.
Previous treatments for psychoses with antipsychotics, on the other hand, could lead to "sexual dysfunctions, metabolic changes and weight gain", says Dr. Amminger on the website of the University of Vienna. The results of his research were published in the current issue (Volume 67, No. 2, February 2010) of the renowned psychiatric journal "Archives of General Psychiatry". A larger international study is now to confirm these findings. (Thorsten Fischer, naturopath osteopathy, February 4th, 2010)
For further reading:
Article by the MedUni Vienna
Study in the Archives of General Psychiatry
Fish recipes with a lot of omega-3 fatty acids