Can You Use Cod Liver Oil for Colitis Symptoms?

Research on cod liver oil and colitis appears to show that the omega 3 fatty acids found in the oil may help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

One of the main symptoms of irritable bowel diseases, such as Colitis and Crohn’s disease, is inflammation of the lining of the intestinal tract and bowel.

Corticosteroids are usually prescribed to reduce colitis inflammation.

However, one of the problems with the use of corticosteroids is they may cause side effects such as acne, weight gain, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and muscle weakness.

Studies show Cod Liver Oil may help Reduce Inflammation in Colitis

  • Animal studies show cod liver oil reduces the progression of colitis. After 30 days of treatment with cod liver oil, colitis inflammation was reduced and almost non-existent after 50 days of treatment.

    Scientists believe a diet high in fatty fish and fish oils may reduce the amount of chemicals causing inflammation which could lessen the severity of the lesions seen in colitis.

  • Researchers also found a high number of people with colitis have low levels of omega 3 fatty acids. This may increase the risk for inflammation which could make symptoms even worse.

    A recent study published in the Journal of Royal Society of Medicine followed the admission of a 27 year old woman suffering from frequent bloody stools and abdominal cramps. After a sigmoidoscopy confirmed ulcerative colitis, she was prescribed corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory medications. Her colitis symptoms went away for a short while but unfortunately, came back.

    This patient was then referred to the Mayo Clinic where doctors prescribed a daily course of omega 3 fatty acids to her regularly prescribed treatments. After 2 weeks of receiving one gram of omega 3 fatty acids her colitis had reached complete remission.

How to Use Cod Liver Oil for Colitis

If you’re going to try using cod liver oil for colitis you should try to use a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil that provides optimal levels of EPA and DHA.

  • While there are no prescribed dosages for this type of treatment, you should look at the label to check how much omega 3 fatty acids per dose you’re getting.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids are the main ingredient to achieving an anti-inflammatory response so you may need to monitor how much you’re getting.

  • If possible, you can go to your doctor to have your Omega 3 Index checked. This is a blood test that measures the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in your body. Research has shown that low omega 3 fatty acid blood levels may increase the risk for inflammation in the body.

  • Remember to consult with your doctor before beginning any nutritional supplement. Do not stop taking your prescribed medications without direction from your doctor.

Research References:

Omega-3 fatty acids in the maintenance of ulcerative colitis. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Short Reports. 2010 June; 1(1): 15.

Omega 3 fatty acids supplementation has an ameliorative effect in experimental ulcerative colitis despite increased colonic neutrophil infiltration. Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2011 Oct;103(10):511-8.

Dietary fish oil reduces progression of chronic inflammatory lesions in a rat model of granulomatous colitis. Gut. 1990 May;31(5):539-44.Vilaseca J, Salas A, Guarner F, Rodriguez R, Martinez M, Malagelada JR. Hospital General Vall d’Hebron, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

Dietary manipulation in experimental inflammatory bowel disease. Agents and Actions. 1992;Spec No:C10-4 Guarner F, Vilaseca J, Malagelada JR. Digestive System Research Unit, Hospital Vall d’Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.

Dietary monounsaturated n-3 and n-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids affect cellular antioxidant defense system in rats with experimental ulcerative colitis induced by trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid. Digestive Diseases and Sciences. 1998 Dec;43(12):2676-87 Nieto N, Fernandez MI, Torres MI, Rios A, Suarez MD, Gil A. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Pharmacy, University of Granada, Spain.


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