Vitamins and Minerals

Omega-3 (Fish Oil) For Schizophrenia

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What science says about Omega-3 (Fish Oil) For Schizophrenia

Scientists and medical experts have different opinions on the benefits of omega-3 for schizophrenia.

Some experts believe that omega-3 can help treat the disease because it helps the brain synthesize different neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate that are involved in mood regulation and cognition.

In addition, omega-3 is a component of nerve cell membranes that helps regulate their fluidity. This allows the brain to take up these neurotransmitters more effectively, hence improving various brain functions.

They also agree that omega-3 may reduce brain inflammation, which seems to be a key characteristic of schizophrenia. However, there’s no clinical evidence to conclude that inflammation is the primary cause behind this disease yet.

Nevertheless, some scientists and medical experts believe that omega-3 can relieve chronic brain inflammation that may lead to schizophrenia. They are hopeful that omega-3 might help schizophrenia patients because it is a safe treatment option that has very few adverse side effects compared to the antipsychotic medications that doctors use to treat the condition.

Still, many experts are not convinced that omega-3 can treat schizophrenia. They need more evidence that omega-3 is beneficial for the condition before they recommend it as a form of treatment.

Opinion in favor of taking omega-3 to treat schizophrenia:

Supporters of omega-3 consumption for schizophrenia believe that omega fatty acids can slow down the progression of this condition and reduce its symptoms. This is because omega-3 has anti-inflammatory properties, which can lower inflammation in the brain, protecting nerve cells from potential damage.

Studies show that schizophrenic patients have high levels of inflammatory markers in their blood. They are also deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, so the omega-3 is not able to reduce the level of inflammation in the brain effectively. Subsequently, chronic brain inflammation leads to nerve cell damage or death and the progression of schizophrenia.

Omega-3 also helps regulate different levels of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain. This regulation helps improve nerve cell communication, reducing discrepancies in memory, preventing the occurrence of hallucinations and delusions, and improving mood and behavior.

Some studies also show that omega-3 may prevent schizophrenia. For instance, a seven-year follow-up study was conducted on individuals who were considered high risk for developing schizophrenia. They were already experiencing hallucinations and hearing voices but did not develop psychosis.

The study, “Longer-term outcome in the prevention of psychotic disorders by the Vienna omega-3 study,” led to the conclusion that of the people who took omega-3 supplements, only 10% of the high-risk schizophrenia individuals developed the condition, compared to 40% in the place group.

Therefore, many medical experts believe that omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent schizophrenia and slow down its progression. They are hopeful that omega-3 might help schizophrenia patients because it is a safe treatment option that has little adverse effects on overall health compared to some antipsychotic medication that doctors prescribe to treat the disease.

Skeptical views about taking omega-3 to treat schizophrenia:

Many healthcare experts agree that people need omega-3 in small amounts because it benefits overall health. However, they disagree with the claims that omega-3 can help treat schizophrenia.

Experts argue that there is not enough evidence to support this claim. They believe that omega-3’s synthesis and regulation of dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate will not affect mood or improve the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Plus, they point out that more research needs to be conducted on omega-3 and its role in combating inflammation in order to clearly understand whether or not omega fats can treat or prevent schizophrenia.

Even though experts point to the Vienna omega-3 study to prove omega-3’s effectiveness in treating schizophrenia, some experts do not believe that omega-3 can treat or prevent the condition.

In 2017, the Vienna omega-3 study was replicated hoping to reproduce the same results. However, unlike the first trial, the second one called the NEURAPRO trial found that omega-3 did not affect schizophrenia symptoms like psychosis.

Nevertheless, the authors of the study suggest that omega-3 did not affect the symptoms of patients with schizophrenia because all of the participants received cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The CBT sessions may have caused all the participants to improve regardless of whether or not they received omega-3 supplementation, so they might have skewed the results of the study.

In April 2020, Chinese scientists examined whether omega-3 consumption affects violent behavior in schizophrenic patients. However, the trial conducted indicated that omega-3 consumption doesn’t affect hostility levels in patients.

Currently, more trials are underway to determine whether omega-3 consumption affects symptoms of schizophrenia. But until then, researchers cannot support omega-3 as a form of treatment for the condition.

Published: December 2020

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