Researchers at Ohio State University conducted a study that found fish oil caused a reduction in inflammation and anxiety when administered to healthy medical students. The findings are in line with nearly thirty years of research that links immune system function and psychological stress. Other studies have shown that fish oil may help reduce the cytokines that are present in the body, thus reducing inflammation and even psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. Stress is known to raise the level of cytokine production and therefore, the researchers sought to determine if the addition of omega-3 would ultimately result in lower inflammation.
The test subjects were medical students at the university, a population segment known to have high levels of stress. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D., professor of psychology and psychiatry said, “We hypothesized that giving some students omega-3 supplements would decrease their production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, compared to other students who only received a placebo.” She added, “We thought the omega-3 would reduce the stress-induced increase in cytokines that normally arose from nervousness over the tests.” The participants were given physical tests and psychological evaluations to assess their levels of anxiety, depression or stress.
“The supplement was probably about four or five times the amount of fish oil you’d get from a daily serving of salmon, for example,” said Martha Belury, Ph.D., professor of human nutrition and co-author in the study. Although the students were not experiencing high levels of stress at the time of the study, the researchers did discover that the addition of omega-3 resulted in decreased anxiety by nearly 20 percent compared to the participants who were given a placebo.
Dr. Ron Glasser, professor of molecular virology, noted that two key cytokines were reduced because of the increased omega-3, and added, “Anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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