Using Fish Oil for Crohn’s Disease – Does it Really Work?
Current research on fish oil and Crohn’s disease show they may help reduce symptoms, but more research is needed to determine the best fish oil dosage.
According to The Mayo Clinic, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of your digestive tract. Its symptoms can include weight loss, severe diarrhea, malnutrition, abdominal pains and fatigue.
The exact cause is unknown but researchers believe that a malfunctioning immune system and/or hereditary factors may play a role.
There’s currently no cure, but treatment focuses on reducing inflammation that can cause many of the symptoms.
Medical treatments, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, surgery and even nutrition therapy can help reduce some symptoms.
This article will take a closer look at the current research on using fish oil in treating Crohn’s disease.
Is Fish Oil Good for Crohn’s Disease?
Many medical researchers are encouraged by the anti-inflammatory potential of long-chain omega 3 fatty acids. A number of these studies showed that fish oils fight inflammation.
However, the current research on using fish oils for Crohn’s disease is inconsistent; some studies showed they effectively reduced symptoms and other studies showed no effect at all.
1. Enteric-coated Fish Oil Reduces Relapse Rates in Crohn’s Disease
Italy – A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that giving Crohn’s disease patients enteric-coated fish oil capsules totaling 2.7 grams of EPA and DHA can effectively reduced relapse rates in 59% of all patients.
Study participants took a placebo or nine (9) enteric-coated fish oil soft gels that provided almost 3 grams of EPA and DHA every day for 12 months.
Enteric-coated fish oils are reported to be more easily absorbed and tolerated better due to their specialized coatings.
Comparing the Placebo Group to Fish Oil Group:
- 72% of patients taking fish oils didn’t experience any relapse of their symptoms.
- 60% of these same patients were symptom-free.
- Patients taking the placebo had almost 2.5 times more relapses and only 26% of these patients stayed symptom-free.
2. Essential Fatty Acids May Reduce Inflammation in Some Autoimmune Diseases
Washington – Scientist believe that inflammatory bowel diseases have increased amounts of inflammatory chemicals which can promote inflammation in the body.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition cited numerous research proving that EPA and DHA can relieve symptoms in Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Many of these studies showed a major decrease in symptoms and less use of corticosteroid and anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the disease.
3. Consortium of Scientists Claim Fish Oils Not Effective for Crohn’s Disease
London, Canada – One of the largest, multi-center studies conducted at 98 centers spanning Europe, Canada, Israel and United States concluded that omega 3 fatty acids didn’t improve the rate of relapse from remission of Crohn’s disease.
In this study, two groups of 363 and 375 patients with Crohn’s disease were randomly given either 4 grams a day of omega 3 fatty acids or a placebo.
After 58 weeks, the researchers found no substantial difference in the rate of relapse between the patient’s taking the omega 3 fatty acids or the placebo.
The researchers concluded that 4 grams a day of EPA and DHA was not effective in preventing relapse in Crohn’s disease.
The current research shows conflicting results on using fish oil for Crohn’s disease.
Some studies showed that fish oils may help reduce relapse rates in Crohn’s but there was no specific fish oil dosage that could be recommended at this time.
Adhering to recommended medical treatment and dietary practices may help reduce the symptoms associated with these types of conditions.
That being said, fish oils can offer some generalized health benefits.
If you want to try using fish oil for Crohn’s symptoms, it’s important you consult with your health care provider before using any nutritional supplement.
As reviewed in Guide to Buying Fish Oil, you should look for the following:
- High-concentration of inflammatory-fighting omega 3 fatty acids.
- Highly-purified for a sensitive gastrointestinal system.
- Easily absorbed for an impaired digestive system.
- Enteric-coated soft gels may improve absorption and reduce gastrointestinal side effects.