When an epileptic condition no longer reacts to drug treatments, low doses of fish oil might help, a new study by the researchers from David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA says.
Nevertheless, the study says high doses of fish oil were found to be no better than taking placebo treatment.
"Low dose fish oil is a safe and low cost intervention that may reduce seizures and improve cardiovascular health in people with epilepsy,” the researchers said in a statement.
“The American Heart Association has issued a guideline indicating that around 1080 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day, equivalent to 3 fish oil capsules, is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and fish oil is commonly administered to patients who have prior myocardial infarctions, irregular heartbeats, and very high triglyceride levels,” UCLA neurology professor Christopher DeGiorgio says in a statement.
The study, published in the Neurology journal of the American Academy of Neurology, reveals that omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil can cross over from our bloodstream into the heart cells, wherein the acids stabilize the heart rhythm and defend it against heart attacks.
People suffering from epilepsy have considerably higher risk of heart attacks as opposed to people who don’t have the condition, which is why the findings in the recent study are significant for the former.
Apart from crossing over to the bloodstream, these omega-3 fatty acids also cross over into our central nervous system, where the acids minimize the brain cells excitability that triggers seizures.
To come up with such results, there were twenty-four respondents with epilepsy that no longer responds to drugs. They were provided with three treatments separately, each lasting for 10 weeks plus a 6-week separation.
Their treatments include three capsules of fish oil in low dose daily that is equivalent to 1080 mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily, plus three capsules of corn oil or placebo; six capsules of daily fish oil equivalent to 2160 mg daily; and three capsules of corn oil twice in a day.
The study found that the average count of seizures for those with low dose fish oil intake was about 12 in a month as compared to 17 for those with high doses and slightly over 18 for the placebo, which is equivalent to 33.6 percent, for those on low dose.
In a 10-week trial, two respondents on the low dose were discovered to be free from seizure but not one on the high dose or placebo treatment was free from seizure.
Fish oil in low dose, according to the study, was also linked to a modest drop in blood pressure of 1.95 mm Hg over a period of 10 weeks. Those in high doses, meanwhile, were linked to an average increase of 1.84 mm Hg.
Fish oil, however, was not related with any change in blood fat levels or heart rate, or the severity of the seizures.
In spite of such development, the researchers still warn that it would take a much bigger study to confirm or refute these findings prior to drawing any conclusion.
According to the UCLA, around three million Americans are suffering from seizures because of epileptic condition.