Chicago Health | Homepage
Fish oil may reduce seizures in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy

Fish oil may reduce seizures in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy

Source: UCLA School of Medicine

whatdoctorsknow.com

LOS ANGELES — An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from epileptic seizures. Although drug therapies often successfully dampen the out-of-control neural firing that produces seizures, such drugs don’t work for everyone.

A new study by researchers at UCLA School of Medicine now suggests that for such patients, improvement might come in the form of a few capsules of fish oil.

The small randomized controlled study shows that low doses of omega-3 fatty acids — the key ingredient in common fish-oil capsules — may help decrease the frequency of epileptic seizures when drug treatment no longer works.

In the study, just three capsules of fish oil a day — around 1080 mg of omega-3 fatty acids — were found to significantly reduce the incidence of seizures in patients with so-called drug-resistant epilepsy.

The finding comes in stark contrast to previous studies using high doses of omega-3s that showed no clear beneficial effects. Those earlier, negative results were somewhat surprising because omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to cross into the central nervous system and to block calcium and sodium channels in nerve cells, thus preventing the repetitive firing of the cells that characterizes seizure.

“The blockade of these channels — especially sodium channels– is the basis for many antiepileptic drugs, like lamotrigine, lacosamide, and carbamazepine,” said Christopher DeGiorgio, a professor of neurology and the principal investigator of the new study.

In patients taking low-dose fish oil, the average number of seizures decreased by 33.6 percent compared to the placebo group, from an average of just over 18 seizures per month to around 12 per month. Two patients on low-dose fish oil were completely seizure-free during their 10-week treatments.

The study results suggest that low-dose fish oil may be a safe, low-cost way to simultaneously reduce seizures and improve cardiovascular health in people with epilepsy, said DeGiorgio — although he cautions that the results are preliminary, and a larger, multicenter trial is needed to confirm the findings.

The relative efficacy of low-dose fish oil compared to high-dose fish oil has also been reported in clinical trials of patients with major depressive disorder. In these studies, subjects experienced significant improvements in mood following supplementation with low doses of omega-3 fatty acids, but no improvement with higher doses.

(WhatDoctorsKnow is a magazine devoted to up-to-the minute information on health issues from physicians, major hospitals and clinics, universities and health care agencies across the U.S. Online at www.whatdoctorsknow.com.)

(c) 2015 WHATDOCTORSKNOW.COM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Your Integrative Medical Home

Your Integrative Medical Home

Programs combine traditional and complementary medicine By Leigh Page Often, medicine seems like it operates in separate silos,

There is relief for side effects of iron supplements

There is relief for side effects of iron supplements

The Medicine Cabinet - Ask the Harvard Experts  By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I have anemia and

High-dose vitamin D may not lower risk of falls

High-dose vitamin D may not lower risk of falls

Harvard Health Letter Vitamin D supplementation has been proposed as a possible preventive strategy to improve

How to take supplements safely

How to take supplements safely

Environmental Nutrition Newsletter By McKenzie Hall, R.D. More than half of Americans use dietary supplements, including multivitamins

The scoop on protein powders

The scoop on protein powders

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, R.D.N., EatingWell Stroll through the grocery store and you'll see a flurry

Media Partner

AgingInfo_Radio300x200res