What, you don’t dream about fish oil? Well, I never! I guess it’s only me. For a while I have been researching the benefits of fish oil for pain. This article is meant to clarify what we know so far about the benefits.
While the popularity of Fish Oil has waned, I have been taking it for some time because I hoped it would help me manage my pain. In this post I will discuss what I have learned about fish oil. I am addressing this topic because I have heard/read that fish oil can relieve pain and I want to find out if that is the case. I will cover research, sources for fish oil, and what products I can recommend.
Research and Conclusions
Fish Oil contains omega-3 which is short for omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are necessary for optimal tissue function. First off, I think we need clarification of what fish oil is. According to Wikipedia fish oil is oil derived from the tissues of oily fish. Fish oils contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), precursors of certain eicosanoids that are known to reduce inflammation in the body and improve hypertriglyceridemia, which are high levels of triglycerides. High triglycerides are associated with cardovascular disease. So apparently fish oil can assist us in our heart health. This post is not about that however. I am focusing on whether there are benefits from fish oil for pain management. An article from the National Institutes of Health gives an extensive explanation of omega-3 fatty acids, which are what is found in fish oil. These acids contain EPA and DHA. (I seem to see fish oil and omega-3 used interchangeably.) This article discusses several health conditions and the use of omega-3s, but I was only interested in the section that explores the effects on rheumetoid arthritis. At the end of this section, the studies conclude that there are “inconsistent findings” as to the efficacy of fish oil to relieve inflammation. On the other hand, a study quoted in PubMed.gov says that there is a significant benefit to use of Omega-3 by a lowered need for anti-inflammatory drugs. PubMed is part of the NIH, so here I see two different studies with conflicting reslults from the same organization. Then there is an article about inflammation, arthritis, and omega-3s that said the participants had a reduction in their rheumetoid arthritis pain. With this in mind, I am still going to recommend some products. Just remember that studies are inconclusive at this point. Apparently we just don’t have enough research to make a conclusion. You are going to have to be your own evaluator. If taking fish oil helps you, great!
The recommended dosage is 500 mg RDA; but not set in stone partly because supplements aren’t as regulated as prescription drugs. There are also warnings about side effects, like thinning the blood too much. So talk with your primary doctor before using this product. In addition, the fatty acids may contain toxic mercury levels depending on where the fish oils are obtained. The product I am taking (recommended below) claims to be harvested from pristine waters.
Sources for fish oil are oily fish, particularly sardines and salmon. But now fish oil can be obtained from supplements. There are several options out there. A person could spend several hours researching to find the best. Instead, I have spent that time researching for you.
First and foremost, we should find a product that is pure, and free from toxins. If say, you want your fish oil from salmon, you should buy wild caught. And according to this article, that is usually only available between November and March. Check it out for Dr. Weil’s recommendations.
Here’s a great article from a review company that lists their top three favorite picks. It is easy to read and very informative. I haven’t used any of these products that they recommend. But I like that they list the positives about each product. They claim to be an independent company so their results should be objective.
I am taking Omega XL from Great Health Works . This product is grown in a pristine water area of New Zealand and harvested from Green Lipped Mussels. So, this product isn’t even from fish, but from mussels. It is a small gel capsule that is easy to swallow and not very smelly. It’s main claim is that it reduces joint pain caused by inflammation. When I first began taking it almost two years ago, I found a few weeks of relief. But the pain came back, though not as strongly. I increased my dosage and now take four capsules; two in the morning and two in the evening. This amount is perfect for me. I get two bottles of 60 capsules each which last me a month. I pay almost $100.00 for them each month. Although I don’t think it is a cure, it seems to help manage things. The extract that these contain is called PCSO-524 which contains the omega fatty acids. I haven’t stopped taking it, so I don’t know if I would feel more pain if I wasn’t taking it. I should probably experiment. Maybe down the road I will. But I still do my stretches, yoga, and walking.
I found an article of a testimonial for a woman that used fish oil and then stopped it. Find it here. She started using it again after she caught the flu. Though her experience isn’t the final word, I admire her honesty and telling about her experience.