New Study Suggests Omega-3 Reduces Inflammation and Anxiety

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Gail F. Palmer

    Gail F. Palmer

    July 19th, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    That’s good to know! I used to take fish oil because it was supposed to help your focus your concentration. At the time I was experiencing stress and finding it hard to keep on task at my work so felt it was worth trying.

    I guess it also reduced my stress levels too in the process. I’ll keep this in mind.

  • Don Carlson

    Don Carlson

    July 19th, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    I don’t believe that stuff does any good at all. I used to take omega 3 oils and did for a few months. It did nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    The benefits of fish oil are either so subtle you don’t notice, a placebo effect, or over-exaggerated as far as I’m concerned.

  • leila becker

    leila becker

    July 19th, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    I’ve never been that keen at all on taking prescribed medicine. I think it goes back to my flower power days when I very into nature and herbs. :) I would much rather take omega-3 than a drug I can’t even pronounce for my anxiety when it flares up.

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll of course check that out with my doctor to make sure that’s fine.

  • Patrice S.

    Patrice S.

    July 19th, 2011 at 10:53 PM

    @Don-The problem with fish oil is that it’s relatively expensive to take regularly if you’re on a very tight budget like me and you do have to take it for quite a while to see any benefit. When I could afford it, I tried taking it and like the article said, it helped some inflammations I was dealing with in my throat.

    Don’t brush off it off entirely because you didn’t benefit from it. It could be you didn’t take it long enough or it simply wasn’t suited to you. That’s why studies involve multiple subjects at once. We’re all different.

  • SHANNON

    SHANNON

    July 20th, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    Hmm…I dont know what to make of this.I ABSOLUTELY hate sea food and am even thinking of turning vegan.So is there any vegan food with Omega 3 ??

  • natalie J

    natalie J

    July 20th, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Anxiety-one of the biggest epidemics of modern society.

    Meds-Have their side effects.

    Natural substitutes like these-Solve the problem,are healthy and have no side effects.

    I hope the choice is clear…it sure is for me :D

  • Bridget Warren

    Bridget Warren

    July 20th, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    I hear a lot about fish oil and how good it is supposed to be for you, but isn’t it also not approved by the FDA? If they won’t have the FDA evaluate it, it works the same as kinoki foot pads (which don’t) in my book. I’m not putting anything in my system that’s not given the nod by the FDA as being alright to ingest.

  • Stanley Cummings

    Stanley Cummings

    July 20th, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    @Bridget Warren: Some forms of it actually are I believe. However the benefits are so minimal the FDA would turn their noses up at it and say it’s completely worthless.

    You’re right to be suspicious about any product that promotes benefits but isn’t approved by the FDA. If they don’t let the FDA look at it, they may well have a shoddy product on the shelf.

  • Lonnie Fisher

    Lonnie Fisher

    July 20th, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    @Stanley Cummings: Not true about minimal benefits from what I’ve read. The FDA has approved fish oil supplements for a limited health claim in the past, in the year 2000. Google this- fda approves omega 3 fish oil 2000- and it will come up. A limited health claim means they are allowed to suggest it helps and in that case it was for reducing the risk of heart disease. It’s not ineffective.

    They went on to give a qualified health claim to conventional foods like oily fish that contain EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, Sept 8 2004.

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