by Dr. Meenakshy Varier on  February 9, 2017 at 11:12 PM Health Watch
  • Research states that fish oil, rich in omega 3 fatty acids, could be used to treat asthma.
  • The omega 3 fatty acids help to halt inflammatory responses to allergic reactions.
  • But omega 3 fatty acids were not very effective in people who use corticosteroids for treating asthma.

Treatment of Asthma Using Fish Oil
Omega 3 fatty acids contained in fish oil could be used for asthma patients.

Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to have many health benefits.

When they are ingested, it gets converted into special pro-resolving mediators that halt inflammation without also suppressing the immune system.

Foods such as flax seed oil, salmon, tuna, anchovies, and walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

The new findings are by the University of Rochester Medical Center scientists used cell cultures from local asthma patients, found that:
  • In patients with milder forms of asthma, omega-3 fatty acid products can reduce the production of IgE, the antibodies that cause allergic reactions and asthma symptoms
  • In patients with severe asthma who are treated using high doses of oral steroids, the omega-3 fatty acids are less effective because the corticosteroids block the beneficial effects
Using steroids as treatment controls the inflammation and relieves symptoms, but does not cure the underlying disease.


Previous research by lead author Richard P. Phipps, Ph.D., the Wright Family Research Professor of Environmental Medicine, had shown that certain fatty acids contained in fish oil regulate the function of immune cells (B cells).

The team wanted to investigate the effects of omega 3 fatty acids on asthma, IgE and other molecules that trigger asthma.

The research team collected blood from 17 patients at UR Medicine's Mary Parkes Asthma Center and isolated their B immune cells.

The results of the 17 patients were then compared to donors of healthy blood cells.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Reduced Levels of IgE

Results showed that all patients responded to the omega-3 fatty acids to some degree. This was evidenced by a reduction in the levels of IgE antibodies

But as most of the patients were taking corticosteroids in either pill form or by inhaler depending upon severity of their asthma, their B immune cells were less sensitive to the omega-3 treatment.

Though steroids are usually very effective in treating asthma, in some cases they reduce some of the body's natural ability to fight asthma-related inflammation.

The researchers state that consumers should use caution when buying fish oil because not all fish oil is the same.

"You really need high-quality, standardized material that's been processed and stored correctly before comparing results from one study to another study," Phipps said.

"Our study used the pure, biologically active products in fish oil, known as 17-HDHA, and we've provided a clear line of evidence for why intake of high-quality fish oil is good." Phipps added.

The study co-authors are Nina Kim, Ph.D., and Patricia Sime, M.D., the C. Jane and C. Robert Distinguished Chair in Pulmonary Medicine.

The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation--Insight.


  1. Richard P. Phipps et al. Journal of Clinical Investigation--Insight; (2017)

Source: Medindia

Most Popular on Medindia