Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acid Supplements Can Reduce the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
As was mentioned in the previous article Essential Fatty Acids Can Treat MS Symptoms, studies have shown that supplementing the diet with omega 3 and omega 6 fatty can reduce the symptoms of MS.
The two most important essential fatty acids are the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
How can omega 3 fatty acids help treat MS symptoms?
The omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of the body’s anti inflammatory eicosanoids, a family of hormone-like compounds.
Omega-3s are natural anti-inflammatory agents, so they act to prevent or reduce symptoms of arthritis, migraine headaches, menstrual cramps, and asthma.
Essential fatty acid foods especially foods that contain eicosapentaenoic acid, a major polyunsaturated fatty acid found in fish oil, interfere with the body’s production of inflammatory chemicals, more specifically arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is turned into another pro-inflammatory chemical, leukotriene B4, which is known to accumulate in the lesions of psoriasis sufferers.
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. Consumption of omega-3 oils improve rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Raynaud’s disease, and other autoimmune diseases such as MS. This is probably because the omega-3 fatty acids help the arteries, as well as many other parts of the body, stay inflammation free. EPA and DHA are successful at this because they can be converted into natural anti-inflammatory substances called prostaglandins and leukotrienes, compounds that help decrease inflammation and pain.
Two placebo-controlled clinical trials studied supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids. A large, two-year study followed 312 people with MS. The group taking 10 grams of fish oil (which contains omega-3 fatty acids) daily had less disability progression and fewer relapses than those taking the “placebo pill.” The difference was not “statistically significant,” but there was a trend favoring the fish oil group.
Coldwater fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are especially rich in two of these fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), who anti-inflammatory properties have been confirmed in many studies.
Two excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids are:
Many recent double-blind studies have shown that supplementation of the diet with 10 – 12 grams of fish oils daily results in significant improvement in general health and healing for those suffering from the effects of MS.
Fish oil has recently been shown to help patients battling multiple sclerosis. People with MS have high levels of inflammation in their blood, which could cause depression. Taking fish oil supplements may decrease those levels of inflammation and help eliminate depression in patients with MS.
2. Flax seeds and Flax seed oil
There is evidence that the essential omega fatty acids in flaxseed can act to regulate the immune system and act as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. And they taste much better than the fish oils many find offensive.
Studies have shown that by adding polyunsaturated fats to the diet in the form of an omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, there is a tendency towards slower progression of MS
The oil in flax seed is a rich source of essential fatty acids. (EFA’s) Several scientific studies show that consumption of omega-3 EFA’s can benefit the heart.
Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of omega-3s: Just 1 teaspoon contains about 2.5 grams, equivalent to more than twice the amount most people get through their diets. Flaxseeds also contain omega-6 fatty acids in the form of linoleic acid; omega-6s are the same healthy fats found in vegetable oils.
Organic flax seed is the food highest in Alpha Linolenic Acid, and the best food source for getting the needed Omega 3 fatty acids derived from it. Consuming high quality, properly milled organic flaxseed with a high oil content is the best choice for obtaining ALA. Milled flax seed has many tasty uses.
Flax contains Alpha Linolenic Acid and also Linoleic Acid, another essential fatty acid. These two fatty acids are termed “essential” because the body cannot manufacture them. EFA’s are precursors to prostaglandins.
Until recently, experts believed the best sources of omega-3 were fish oils. While fish oils are a good source, flax seed oil contains twice as much omega-3 as fish oil products, without the fishy aftertaste.
Omega 3 fish oils (from mackerel, haddock, sardines and salmon) contain the actual Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA & DHA. However, almost all fish oils have levels of mercury contamination that should be a concern, and there is the rancidity problem.
Only use Flax Oil from the refrigerated section of your health food store. Never use capsules, flakes or flax oil from the shelves.
2. Omega 6 fatty acids
The omega-6 fatty acids, found in such oils as evening primrose oil (EPO) and sunflower seed oil, also may be beneficial.
Several studies have found low levels of linoleic acid in the blood, blood cells, brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) This may be due to a problem with how the bodies of people with MS metabolize dietary omega-6 fatty acids.
A deficiency of linoleic acid makes symptoms worse in the animal model of MS, EAE. Adding linoleic acid seems to reduce clinical symptoms in these animals and provide a protective effect.
In general, it seems that an ideal way of getting omega-6 is through increasing flaxseed consumption in the diet, either through oil or seeds, as flaxseed contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Some experts recommend consuming 4 teaspoons of flaxseed oil daily.