Natural Ways to Target Persistent Inflammation
By Dr. Karen Vieira Ph.D
Inflammation is a common problem for many individuals, and low levels of chronic inflammation can even be a typical sign of aging . Several doctors explain how omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help the body overcome inflammation naturally.
Professor Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD
Director of the Ohio State Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
S. Robert Davis Chair of Medicine in The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties. In response to the question about how this natural anti-inflammatory agent helps reduce inflammation, Dr. Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD , Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Ohio State University says that “omega-3 fatty acids may be both protective so that inflammation doesn’t go up, as well as therapeutic by helping inflammation go down.” Omega -3s disrupt the production and release of proteins that are associated with inflammation . In doing so, omega-3 supplementation has been shown to benefit individuals suffering from a variety of conditions.
Joseph C. Maroon, MD
Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
In regard to understanding how fatty acids can be so beneficial for so many different conditions, Dr. Joseph C. Maroon, MD of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine explains that, “all these diseases have a common genesis in inflammation and, in large enough amounts, omega-3s reduce the inflammatory process that leads to many chronic conditions.” Omega-3 fatty acids target inflammatory chemicals such as prostaglandins, for example, theryby preventing them from causing or worsening inflammation [2, 3]. However, one reason that some people suffer from chronic inflammation is due to their diet.
Jeffrey Bost, PA, MD, PAC
Clinical instructor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Dr. Jeffrey Bost, PA, MD, PAC of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explains how an improper diet may contribute to problems with inflammaiton. Although the consmption of foods rich in omega-3s, such as fish, is recommended, “unfortunately, the American diet is swimming in omega-6s instead,” says Dr. Bost. “It’s in almost everything we eat as our diet has shifted away from fresh veggies and fish to foods high in omega-6s, such as crackers, cookies, and corn-fed beef.”
Dr. Maroon, who collaborates with and has referred patients to Dr. Bost, also suggests that “before the introduction of grains, fats, and artificial substances, the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s was two to one. Today, we consume at least 20 times more omega-6s than omega-3s. The problem is that excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids can promote inflammation, a key step in many chronic diseases.” Therefore, paying close attention to avoiding these types of foods is critical toward avoiding uncessary ailments due to inflammation.
According to Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser, “although omega-3 fatty acids cannot take the place of good health behaviors, people with established inflammatory diseases or conditions may benefit from their use.” Many people, though, find it hard to get enough omega-3s from their diet alone. As a result, omega-3 fatty acid supplements are becoming increasingly popular. They are a convenient way to support your body’s response to inflammation.
1. Brüünsgaard H, Pedersen BK. Age-related inflammatory cytokines and disease. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2003; 23(1):15-39.
2. Tokuyama S, Nakamoto K. Unsaturated fatty acids and pain. Biol Pharm Bull. 2011; 34(8):1174-1178.
3. Schmitz G, Ecker J. The opposing effects of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids. Prog Lipid Res. 2008; 47(2):147-155.