Pain and
Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This section was compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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Big Fish Story
Scientists worldwide are praising a nutrient so powerful that it may help combat dozens of diseases. But don't expect an endorsement from our policy makers: They say we can do without.

Natural COX-2 Inhibitors: The Future of Pain Relief
Although NSAIDs are effective, their anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-fever and anti-thrombotic results can come at a high price. They can inhibit COX-2, but they inhibit COX-1 as well. This is problematic because COX-1 inhibition "turns off" some important functions such as the repair and maintenance of stomach lining, which results in varying degrees of gastric ulcerations, perforations or obstructions in one-third to almost one-half of patients taking them. [4] Moreover, on the extreme end, more than 16,500 people die in the United States each year from NSAID-related gastrointestinal bleeding. [5]

Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Intensity of Primary Dysmenorrhea
Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2012 (Apr);   117 (1):   4547

Women aged 18-22 years with primary dysmenorrhea were enrolled in a double-blind crossover study. Women assigned to group 1 (n=47) received 1 omega-3 capsule daily for 3 months, followed by placebo for 3 months. Women in group 2 (n=48) received placebo for 3 months, followed by omega-3 for 3 months. A washout period was performed in both groups. Participants used 400mg of ibuprofen as a rescue dose if severe menstrual pains were experienced.

Unsaturated Fatty Acids and Pain
Biol Pharm Bull. 2011;   34 (8):11741178

Recently, the functional relationship between polyunsaturated fatty acids and pain has been the focus of many studies. Both basic and clinical studies have shown that a dietary intake of n-3 series polyunsaturated fatty acids results in a reduction in the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, dysmenorrhea, inflammatory bowl disease, and neuropathy.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil) as an Anti-inflammatory:
An Alternative to Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
for Discogenic Pain

Surgical Neurology 2006 (Apr);   65 (4):   326331

The use of NSAID medications is a well-established effective therapy for both acute and chronic nonspecific neck and back pain. Extreme complications, including gastric ulcers, bleeding, myocardial infarction, and even deaths, are associated with their use. An alternative treatment with fewer side effects that also reduces the inflammatory response and thereby reduces pain is believed to be omega-3 EFAs found in fish oil. We report our experience in a neurosurgical practice using fish oil supplements for pain relief.

The Diet-induced Proinflammatory State:
A Cause of Chronic Pain and Other Degenerative Diseases?

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002 (Mar); 25 (2): 168-179 ~ FULL TEXT

We can no longer view different diseases as distinct biochemical entities. Nearly all degenerative diseases have the same underlying biochemical etiology, that is, a diet-induced proinflammatory state. Although specific diseases may require specific treatments, such as adjustments for hypomobile joints, Beta-blockers for hypertension, and chemotherapy for cancer, the treatment program must also include nutritional protocols to reduce the proinflammatory state.

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