Is it Safe to Treat an Allergy with Fish Oil?

young woman with fish allergy afraid to swallow spoonful of fish oil soft gels

If you suffer from hay fever or an allergy, is fish oil an effective treatment?

Health advocates have known for years about the health benefits of fish oil.

It’s an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Your body can’t make these essential fatty acids, so you need to get them from your diet, either through food or supplements.

Studies show EPA and DHA help lower inflammation, reduce high triglyceride levels and even improve mood.

But what about using fish oil for allergies?

We take a closer look at the research behind using fish oils and allergy.

What is an Allergy?

woman with allergy sneezing into facial tissue near flowers

An allergy is usually a condition where your immune system may react to a specific protein by releasing histamine and other pro-inflammatory chemicals.

This is called an inflammatory-response and the resulting symptoms can range from mild rashes, running noses, itchy eyes and even dangerous anaphylactic shock.

Fish oils contain EPA and DHA, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Can you Use Fish Oils to Treat Allergies?

There’s conflicting research on using fatty acids and fish oils for reducing allergies.

A study in the 2009 issue of Allergy Journal reviewed over 3000 articles to evaluate the effectiveness of EPA and DHA in reducing the risk for allergies and stated:

“…supplementation with omega 3 and omega 6 oils is probably unlikely to play an important role as a strategy for the primary prevention of sensitization or allergic disease.”

Another study published in the 2012 October Issue of Pediatrics Journal looked at giving fish oil to prevent allergies in high-risk infants.  They found no difference between giving children olive oil or fish oil for lowering their risk for allergies or asthma.

On the other side of the coin, there’s research showing many benefits of using fish oils for allergies.

Numerous studies point to the benefits of using fish oil during pregnancy for reducing risk for allergies in babies.

A study published in June 2018 Allergy Journal showed fish oils reduce the risk for food allergies in children.

And researchers at the Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute in South Australia found that children taking fish oils showed a lower risk for eczema and egg allergies.

Are Fish Oils Safe if You’re Allergic to Fish?

two fish lying beside each other

Many scientists believe the main cause for allergies to fish oils is fish proteins.

There have been documented studies of children allergic to fish protein that experienced enterocolitis (inflammation of the digestive tract).

And some researchers claim that having an overly sensitive immune system could be the cause for an allergic reaction to fish proteins.

However, you can avoid these fish proteins by using specialized fish oil products….

As discussed in our Guide to Buying Fish Oils, we looked at why most pharmaceutical-grade fish oils don’t contain any fish proteins.

These products are commonly made by a process called Molecular-distillation – it produces a highly-purified omega 3 concentrate with undetectable levels of fish proteins and other contaminants.

Nordic Natural Ultimate Omega 3 Supplement is an example of such a product claims to not contain any fish proteins.

You could also use Algae-Based or Plant-Based omega 3 supplements.

These types of products are usually marketed as Vegan Omega 3 Supplements and allow you to add omega 3 fatty acids to your diet without any exposure to proteins that may cause an allergic reaction.

Although side effects from fish oils are rare, an allergy to fish oil is not something to ignore.

If you’re considering taking fish oil supplements, it’s best to consult with your Physician or Allergist before doing so.

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