Fish Oil for Bipolars?
Oh Lord, I thought, when I read that statement and my memory instantly
took me back 40-plus years. Back to the horrid memory of cod liver oil,
first as a liquid and later as a capsule, and my face screws up in distaste
and my mouth fills with sour bile at the recollection. Cod liver oil…vitamin
D…"the sunshine vitamin" was without doubt necessary for children living
in the northern climate where it was unusual to see sunshine between the
months of October and April. For my siblings and I it was something to
avoid at all costs and a struggle every day. This brings me to a recent
3 Fatty Acids in Bipolar Disorder. It is a summary of a recent
study to assess the mood stabilizing effect of omega 3 fatty acids on patients
with unstable bipolar disorder.
Omega 3 fatty acids are obtained from marine and plant life - in this
study menhaden fish body oil was used to manufacture the capsules for the
patients who received it. The patients who received placebo were given
identical capsules of olive oil ethyl esters.
Patients participating in this study were all diagnosed with bipolar
affective disorder, were required to have had one or more manic or hypomanic
episodes within the last year and allowed to continue with their current
prescribed medications and treatment (therapy). Forty percent of the patients
within the study were defined as rapid cyclers (4 or more episodes in past
Some reported side effects, most commonly of gastrointestinal nature,
characterized by loose stools. 62% of patients receiving omega 3 treatment
experienced this side effect and 53% of olive oil treated patients reported
the same effects. A distinct "fishy" aftertaste was reported by members
of both groups, though far more often in the omega 3 group.
Overall, the patients tolerated the study well. None were hospitalized
or developed marked suicidal ideation or behavior.
Omega 3 Fatty acids used as an adjunctive treatment in bipolar disorder
resulted in significant symptom reduction and a better outcome when compared
with placebo in this study. There was a significant difference in relapse
rates and response. Much work still needs to be done, but this study is
a promising beginning for individuals with bipolar disorder.
As time goes on research continues to shed new light on an old disease.
I endorse the idea that in time we will have treatment for bipolar disorder
that is much more effective than the treatment of today. Based on my own
experiences over the past twenty years there have already been many changes,
and many more to come.
More articles on this topic are available!
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