Fish Oil May Aid Against Manic DepressionStudy Attributes Dramatic Improvement in Patients to Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Supplements
By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 27, 1999; Page Z07
Scientists believe they have found a surprising new ally in their efforts to understand and treat the sharp mood swings of manic depression–the fatty acids of fish oil.
A Harvard University clinical trial of 44 patients suffering from manic, or bipolar, depression had such positive results with fish oil that the experiment was stopped after four months and all patients were put on a treatment of 14 capsules per day.
“The group taking the fish oil was performing strikingly better than the placebo group, including significantly longer periods of remission,” said Andrew L. Stoll, director of the Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital. “A decision was made to stop the trial on ethical grounds.”
Based on those promising findings, Stoll said, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has given preliminary approval for a larger fish oil trial starting this summer. That trial, at McLean and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, would include 120 people suffering from manic depression and would last for three years.
“If this works, it would be one of the most exciting findings in psychiatry in the past 20 years,” said Jerry Cott, chief of the psychopharmacology research program at the National Institute of Mental Health. “This is the first time we would be testing a nutritional supplement that appears to be having efficacy about to the degree of a synthetic medication.”
“This could give us real insight into what is the basis of this psychiatric disorder,” Cott said. “Right now, we have no clue what it’s really about.”
In the Harvard study, all the patients continued on their other medications. About half were also treated with fish oil capsules, while the others got olive oil as a placebo. According to Stoll, 11 of the 15 patients taking the fish oil improved after four months, and only two had a recurrence. Six of 20 on the placebo responded positively, he said, and 11 had a relapse. Some patients were not counted because the trial was stopped before they had completed their four-month treatment.
Details of the study will be published in May in a major medical journal.
Read the rest here.
The Brain Bio Centre
Food for the Brain
At the Brain Bio Centre, the best results we’ve seen in helping those with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders are achieved by investigating a number of possible avenues. These include:
• Blood sugar problems made worse by excess stimulant and drug use
• Essential fat imbalances
• Too many oxidants and not enough antioxidants
• Niacin (Vitamin B3) therapy
• Methylation problems helped by B12 and folic acid
• Pyroluria and the need for zinc
• Food allergies
Quite apart from these nutritional factors, having good psychological support and a stable home environment make a major impact upon those with mental health problems.
Thanks to Duane Sherry for suggesting these links.
Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS)
This article appeared in The Psychiatric Times on Oct. 28, 2011. Treating Mental Illness Before it Strikes details the efforts of the psychiatric community throughout the twentieth century and the beginnings of this century to identify and treat young adults before they become psychotic. Most recently we have heard about the debate on the proposed insertion of a new category of disorder —psychosis risk syndrome — into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), and of Dr. Allan Frances’s outspoken views on this subject. Some of us have also read about the proposed McGorry medical trial in Australia, which was heavily critized on ethical grounds because the trial involved putting youth as young as age 15 (most of whom would never go on to develop psychosis) on antipsychotics if there was evidence of a family background of psychosis.
In June 2011, a number of Australian newspapers reported that a high-profile medical trial targeting psychosis in young adults would not go ahead. It was to be conducted by Prof. Patrick McGorry, who had been Australian of the year (an honorary and mostly symbolic title bestowed by the Australian government on an unusually deserving citizen advocating worthy causes). In the proposed trial, youths as young as age 15 would receive Seroquel (quetapine) when they were first diagnosed, not with psychosis but with attenuated psychosis syndrome (previously called psychosis risk syndrome). Treating young adults with this syndrome would nip the danger in the bud—their potential psychosis would be treated before it even arose. The trial was to have been sponsored by the drug’s manufacturer, AstraZenaca, which, like many pharmaceutical companies, was probably eager to test its medication on a younger age group to expand the market for its medications. What could be wrong with such a commendable initiative?
The final paragraph of the article reveals that
Dr McGorry has introduced a slight modification to his study, which will now go ahead. Instead of Seroquel, he will now test the efficacy of fish oil.
Slight modification? This is huge! To favor conducting a medical trial with fish oil rather than with Quetiapine (Seroquel) is astonishing, not least because the drug manufacturer is now out of the picture. Fish oil is becoming popular for its purported benefits in preventing schizophrenia (and depression). Will fish oil be found to do all that its proponents claim it does or will it be found to be ineffective in preventing psychosis? Wouldn’t a rather simple solution be to study the prevalence of schizophrenia in Inuit populations where the diet is high in fish oil? Studies show that rates of schizophrenia are pretty much the same (about 1%) in any culture in any part of the world, with some anomalies due to e.g. migration of certain populations. Will this new McGorry trial be properly executed? I have read that, as with niacin and vitamin C, the effectiveness depends on a dosing amount many times in excess of what is considered daily recommended intake.
Read more on the McGorry controversy here.
|Inuit eating frozen fish
(at least until the next study comes along.)
Many women take fish oil supplements during pregnancy, encouraged by obstetricians, marketing campaigns or the popular view that a key fish oil ingredient — docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA — is beneficial to a baby’s cognitive development.
But a large study published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the DHA supplements taken by pregnant women show no clear cognitive benefit to their babies. The study also found no evidence that DHA can reduce postpartum depression, except perhaps for women already at high risk for it.
The rest of the article can be found here.
This morning before going to work I knocked on Chris’s door while clutching a bottle of Omega 3 in my hands. I was pleased to reinforce to him the report published in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, that patients who took fish oil capsules had fewer symptoms of psychosis and better functioning than those who took a placebo.
“But, according to Olga Kharitidi in The Master of Lucid Dreams, I’m supposed to embrace my psychotic episodes,” he objected.
Does he not get the idea or do I not get the idea? I also gave him that book. I realize there is a contradiction here, a double message.