- Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve damaging disorder, which is caused by high blood glucose levels.
- Omega-3 supplement derived from seal oil can help promote nerve regeneration in diabetic patients, according to a new study.
- Supplementation of seal oil increased the length of corneal nerve fiber in diabetics.
Seal oil could promote nerve regeneration in patients with Type 1 diabetes, finds a study conducted by a research team at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre in Toronto.
Diabetic neuropathy is a form of never damage that occurs in diabetic patients. Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy vary from patient to patient. Some of the common symptoms include tingling, numbness, a feeling of burning in the hands and feet, loss of sensation, constant pain and difficulty walking. Currently, there are no therapies to stop or reverse the effects of nerve damage.
‘Supplementation of omega-3 seal oil increased the corneal fiber length by 29 percent in diabetic patients.’
Seal Oil Supplement for Diabetic Neuropathy
For the study, the research team used omega-3 fatty acids derived from seal oil as a supplement. Omega-3 supplement was given to 40 diabetic patients twice a day over a 12-month period. The supplement was targeted primarily on corneal nerve fiber length.
Cornea which is located at the front of the eye, has the highest density of nerves in the body. Damage to these nerves or loss of corneal nerve fiber length is a biomarker for the progression of Type 1 diabetes.
The research team investigated the effects of the omega-3 seal oil supplement on nerve structure. At the end of the supplement period, they found that patients experienced a 29% increase in corneal nerve fiber length, which is considered to be representative of small nerve fiber regeneration in the body.
The findings suggest that seal oil supplement may have the potential to have a regenerative effect.
"This study is the first to show that targeted nutritional invention can stop and reverse small fiber damage," says Dr. Vera Bril, head of the Division of Neurology in the Department of Medicine.
"Nothing like this has been attempted in humans before. Results from this trial are a very important step towards a clinical therapy for people with diabetic neuropathy," says Dr. Evan Lewis, a neurologist and one of the study's authors.
"Our goal was to collect enough data to power a randomized clinical trial, and we believe this study lays the groundwork for that to happen," said Dr Lewis.
The study entitled "The effects of omega-3 supplementation on neuropathy in type 1 diabetes" is published in the June, 2017 issue of Neurology
, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The research team hopes to conduct a phase three randomized controlled trial involving a larger group of participants.
"The initial results of this research are very promising and Diabetes Canada looks forward to continued study on the impact of omega-3s on nerve regeneration," said Dr. Jan Hux, Chief Science Officer at Diabetes Canada.
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs in diabetic patients. High blood glucose level can injure nerve fibers throughout the body, causing numbness in the extremities. Diabetic neuropathy can be painful, disabling and even fatal.
There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Autonomic neuropathy
- Radiculoplexus neuropathy (diabetic amyotrophy)
Currently, there is no treatment for diabetic neuropathy. The study involving seal oil supplement could be a viable treatment for this condition to stop and reverse small fiber damage.
- Evan J.H. Lewis, Bruce A. Perkins, Leif E. Lovblom, Richard P. Bazinet, Thomas M.S. Wolever, Vera Bril. Effect of omega-3 supplementation on neuropathy in type 1 diabetes. Neurology, (2017); 88 (24): 2294 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004033