A lot of people know that fish oil supplements - the kind that contain the healthy omega-3 fatty acids - are good for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. These fatty acids have also been known to help in the battle against both aging and cancer. What a lot of people do not realize, however, is that fish oil can be used to help combat both mood disorders and alcohol abuse.
In a study conducted at The Indiana University School of Medicine, researchers found conclusive behavioral benefits when giving omega-3 fatty acids to mice that displayed manic tendencies. Docosahexaenoic acid, the fatty acid more commonly known as DHA, was discovered as a key ingredient in the successful normalizing of mice and behavior, according to Alexander B. Niculescu, MD, PhD. The study involved a simulation of stress induction on mice and how dietary DHA influenced the response to different stressors. A detailed analysis of the mice brains confirmed that the genes that are effected by psychiatric medications were also positively affected by DHA.
In addition to these findings concerning mood disorders, it was also discovered that DHA reduced the desire for alcohol in the mice. The subject mice that were more prone to manic behavior displayed an affinity for alcohol, much like a lot of human patients who struggle with bipolar disorder. When the same mice were given DHA, it was discovered that their alcohol cravings reduced significantly. This led researchers to believe that having a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids could possibly help to treat both bipolar disorder and alcoholism.
Dr. Niculescu concluded that there is now substantial evidence that omega-3 fatty acids affect the brain in much the same way that psychiatric, mood-stabilizing drugs do. This is an encouraging finding as fish oil supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids lack the negative side effects that are found in psychiatric medications. These supplements can potentially be a positive addition to patients who are trying to decrease their use of psychiatric medications, or get off of them altogether.
There is still a great deal of research that needs to be done before any certainties can be established; however, the study adds even more credence to a supplement that is already established as a positive addition to one's health. The study has been validated even further through a National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Award grant that was given to Dr. Niculescu.
Source: Science Daily, Fish Oil May Have Positive Effects on Mood, Alcohol Craving, New Study Shows, May 26, 2011
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