I’m not much into miracles especially where medicine is concerned. Fish oils however, are without question today’s miracle medicine! I should clarify however that fish oil is a miracle in the sense that it’s a very potent healer, and not a miracle as far as the definition of this word is concerned -with regards to it being supernatural or incomprehensible. Far from it! In fact, the mechanism of action of fish oils with regards to its therapeutic effects are very well understood.
Everything in our lifestyle from our standard diet to our hectic stress-filled day-to-day living, to our sedentary city life of drive-through’s and desk jobs, and machines of all functionalities has made us ‘inflammatory’ –in every sense of the word!
With our diet of highly refined grains and sugars, high consumption of inflammatory vegetable oils (omega 6’s) and animal products (meats & dairy) as a staple, our bodies have become pathologically inflammatory. Our sedentary lifestyle on the other hand only adds to the ordeal since exercise lowers inflammation. The stress hormone cortisol is then released as a result of inflammation as an attempt to bring some balance due to cortisol’s anti-inflammatory properties. This however only adds to the disorder as over time the elevated levels of cortisol not only add to your perceived stress but also result in a number of disease processes. Remember that cortisol is released as our fight or flight stress response resulting in changes in the cardiovascular system (increased blood pressure), causing release of sugars in the body (contributing to diabetes), disrupting thyroid hormone functioning, depressing the immune system, and, and, and… contributing to an endless list of syndromes!
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, our inflammatory and stress-filled lifestyle causes damage to the liver. Once the liver has reached its capacity, damages begin to affect the heart and kidneys also. Chinese Medicine among many traditional medical beliefs (like ayurveda and others) links each organ system to an emotion. The liver when pathological causes feelings of anger -hence, inflammation in every sense of the word! When damages reach the heart, depression and anxiety set in, and once the kidneys begin to take the grunt of the insult and are damaged, fears and insecurities begin to surface (just to show how entwined our body systems are where an imbalance of one system puts pressure on others and if chronic, can upset the harmony of the whole body).
This is where fish oils can have a great impact on the health of an individual both physically as well as mentally and emotionally. Fish oils have demonstrated strong anti-inflammatory properties for conditions that are inflammatory in nature (arthritis, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and insulin insensitivity (diabetes)). As well, fish oils have been found to be effective for the treatment of depression (recent research has linked depression to chronic inflammation).
Although fish oils benefit almost every health condition of today as most result from chronic inflammation, it should also be noted that if there’s still gas feeding the fire of inflammation (i.e. the root cause of inflammation has not been removed), fish oils would only be a band-aid solution. To learn more about how inflammation can be controlled at its root, seek the advice of a licensed naturopathic doctor. In the meantime, consider supplementation with fish oils to keep inflammation in check!
I should also mention that the EPA component of fish oil is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties and NO vegetarian source of Omega 3’s contains EPA.
Discussed in another post: Why animal sources of omega 3′s are superior to vegetarian sources, and why dietary sources of fish oils are not sufficient for some!