Fish Oil May Help Reduce Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Salmon fillets and herbs on a cutting boardAlcohol abuse carries many risks, and chronic alcohol abuse can lead to a heightened risk of dementia and brain damage. For those struggling to kick the habit, brain damage can be a scary prospect, and may even cause people recovering from alcohol abuse to believe that the damage has been done, quitting just isn’t worth it. People who have given up alcohol abuse or are trying to do so may benefit from fish oil, which a new study suggests can help reduce alcoholism-related brain damage.

Alcohol and the Brain

Small quantities of alcohol may benefit the brain. For example, one study found that a compound in red wine could improve memory, and a host of studies have shown that moderate drinking can reduce the risk of age-related cognitive problems. Moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Among those who abuse alcohol, though, the daily alcohol dosage greatly exceeds this recommendation, potentially damaging or killing brain cells.

Fish Oil and Alcohol

The study didn’t look directly at humans; instead, it analyzed rat brains. Researchers exposed rat brain cells to high alcohol concentrations of about four times the legal driving limit. They then compared these brain cells to brain cells that had been exposed to both high levels of alcohol and omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Rat brain cells exposed to the fish oil in addition to alcohol showed 90% less cell death and inflammation than those exposed to alcohol alone.

This research strongly suggests that fish oil may have a protective effect in the brain. Research on rats doesn’t always pan out, since rat brains aren’t identical to human ones, but previous research has found that DHA can reduce inflammation in the body. Researchers have also uncovered numerous brain benefits to taking DHA, including better brain development in babies and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s in adults. DHA is found in fatty fish, such as mackerel, tuna, and salmon, and in low doses in eggs and meat.


  1. Fish Oil May Benefit Alcohol Abusers. (2014, July 17). Newswise. Retrieved from
  2. Horrocks, L. (1999). Health Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Pharmacological Research, 40(3), 211-225. doi: 10.1006/phrs.1999.0495
  3. Lewis, T. (2014, June 09). Red wine compound may improve memory, study suggests. LiveScience. Retrieved from

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  • simon


    July 22nd, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    I am so pleased when I see more and more research being done in the manner of looking at ways that we can benefit our health without the aid of pharmaceuticals. I think that we have been fooled into thinking that there is a pill for anything that ails us when many times it is all about getting back to the basics, watching what we eat, adding good and healthy foods to our diets, and engaging in some from of exercise on a daily basis. We have somewhat fallen away from some of these basics and I think that it is about time that we got back to doing things that we know are healthy fo us instead of doing all of the things that are wrong and assuming that the doctor can then give us a pill to fix it.

  • Damiya


    July 23rd, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    And it also has other health benefits too, such as heart health

  • Cleo


    July 24th, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    I would never be able to do this as a suplement because even though I love all different sorts of fish I have tried those fish oil pills before and they just leave me with horrible digestive issues. Eating fish alone does not do that so I hope that you don’t have to take the supplement and pill varieties to see the results.

  • nathaniel


    July 25th, 2014 at 4:32 AM

    I wish that there could be something more definitive that told me how much alcohol is good for me and how much crosses that line and becomes too much

  • Brantley


    July 28th, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Is there nothing else that I could use?
    Even the term “Fish oil” kind of makes me feel a little sick

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