Fish Oil for Concussion and Brain Injury

The aggressive use of omega 3 fish oil after a traumatic brain injury may be very beneficial.  There are several cases of patients who have suffered severe brain trauma being given high dosages–up to 20,000 mg per day of EPA and DHA–recovered much more quickly and to a larger extent than expected.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs after “a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” In the US there are over 3.5 million TBIs annually with approximately 52,000 deaths. Traumatic brain injury is a clinical challenge and there are not really any effective treatment options. What is needed is an effective treatment strategy that can target neuroprotection, neuroinflammation, and neuroregeneration. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may offer an effective approach. There is a growing body of strong pre-clinical evidence and clinical experience that suggests that larger dosages of fish oil, esp. if taken soon after an injury, can provide the optimal nutritional foundation for recovery and repair of the brain from TBI and concussion. Fish oil is incredibly safe and easy to consume through either capsules, liquid or even through feeding tubes.  There are virtually no side effects, unlike most pharmaceutical interventions, with the exception that there is a slight blood thinning effect.  However, for it to become standard mainstream treatment for a head injury, conventional medicine needs to overcome its inherent bias against nutritional, non-pharmacological therapies–sorry Big Pharma.

We know that the brain and the nerve cells are largely composed of fats and proteins and the types of fats that you eat affect the structural composition of the brain and neuronal cell membranes. Due to increased consumption of omega 6 fats in the modern diet from soybean oil and other commercial seed oils, omega 6 fats have displaced omega 3 fats like DHA from neuronal cell membranes. Omega 6 oils tend to lead to inflammation, whereas omega 3 fats tend to reduce inflammation. In addition, incorporation of mega 6 fats into these neuronal cell membranes reduces “cell permeability and synaptic membrane fluidity”. Therefore, having more omega 3 fats makes the brain function better by improving neuronal transmission of signals.  This new omega protocol for recovery from concussion and brain injury is already being used by  a number of University and professional sports teams.

Lewis MD. Concussions, Traumatic Brain Injury, and the Innovative Use of Omega-3s. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2016;35(5): 469-475.
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