Omega 3’s as an Anti-Inflammatory

Omega-3 Tablets

Omega-3 Tablets

I recommend almost all my patients take Omega 3.  They get a lot of press and most people have heard of them.  I am not going to reinvent the wheel and tell you every benefit of Omega 3’s (there are a lot!).  There is  a lot of good information about Omega 3s on the web and elsewhere.

Inflammation & Injury
I would like to  discuss why I think Omega 3 is important for patients who come into see me in my practice.  Aside from my wellness care patients, every patient who comes into my office does so because of injury.  The pain caused by injury or trauma is the result of the  body’s response to injury.  When a muscle is injured, the body responds with inflammation around the injured area to help prevent infection; to provide extra blood cells to repair damanged tissue; and help the body heal.
The basic result of this is inflammation and pain.  To some extent this is good, it causes us to rest our muscles and allow ourselves to heal.  Excess pain however can get in the way of daily life and make our lives miserable.

Inflammation & Omega-3

Enter the Omega 3.  These essential fatty acids help reduce inflammation and swelling systemically.  Omega-3’s help inhibit our bodies inflammatory response.   As we learn more about disease processes, we are beginning to realize that inflammation is not only an issue in injury, but also in a major player in  lifestyle diseases.  Omega – 3  are a much safer alternative than NSAIDs and should be a first choice in treatment.  As I write this, please realize that Omega-3’s are not pain reliever’s like NSAIDs are.  They will not make you feel better in 30 minutes.  They will however reduce inflammation and less inflammation equals less pain.
As an example of how inflammation effects disease processes,  views on heart disease are rapidly changing.  Once thought of as a disease related to cholesterol, recent research strongly supports the role inflammation plays in heart disease, rather than solely cholesterol.  Omega-3s have a solid research backing their use in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.  Omega-3s are also strongly related to a reduction of symptoms among those with Rheumatoid artritis.
Does this mean you can make the jump and suggest that all inflammation could be reduced by Omega-3?  I don’t think it would be scientifically sound to do so.  However, there is much research that still needs to be done.  There is enough evidence to support more research in this area.  I find from my experience in clinical practice that patients report good results.  There is a reason Omega-3s are called essential fatty acids.  The body need omega-3 and 6’s to operate effectively.  Our bodies cannot produce these fatty acids so we must ingest them in food.  We also know from research that the standard American diet leans strongly towards Omega-6 fatty acids and away from Omega-3.  There should be a balance between these two fatty acids in our diets and most people are not there.  Ideally one would see a 4:1 ratio ofOmega-3 to Omega 6’s.

How to Reduce Omega-6 fatty acids

  • Avoid fried foods- fried foods are a big offender, its like soaking your food in omega-6
  • Avoid processed foods-most processed foods are made with inexpensive vegetable oils high in Omega-6 fatty acids (as these are the least expensive oils).  Some suggest that by simply eliminating processed foods you can reduce yourOmega-6 intake by up to  1/3.
  • Reduce amount of conventionally raised, grain fed beef

How to Increase Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Eating fish just 2 times a week will increase your blood levels of omega-3.
  • Increase amount of nuts – this is easy, nuts are great snacks; they are also wonderful additions to salads.
  • Choose oils wisely, this link to the Eating Rules Cooking Oil Comparison Chart can help you with this.
  • Choose grass fed meat and milk over grain fed  for a better omega 3 to 6 profile.
  • Take a daily Omega-3 supplement.


Maroon JC, Bost JW. (2006).  Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain.  Surg Neurol. 65(4):326-31.

Rangel-Huerta OD, Aguilera CM, Mesa MD, & Gil A. (2012). Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation on inflammatory biomakers: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. The British Journal of Nutrition107, S159-70.

Vijay Patel (77 Posts)

Dr. Vijay Patel earned his doctoral degree in Chiropractic from National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, Illinois. Dr. Patel is board certified in electrodiagnostics by the American Chiropractic Neurology Board. Dr. Patel has recently received training in Manipulation under Anesthsia (MUA). Constantly striving to give his patients the most up-to-date care possible, Dr. Patel attends many post-graduate seminars including such topics as neurology, research review, and sports performance enhancement. Dr. Patel has practiced medicine at Advanced Physical Medicine and Therapy in Mt. Prospect, Illinois since 1999. Dr. Patel currently serves as president of the Chicago chapter of the Illinois Chiropractic Society. He is also a member of both the National College of Chiropractic Alumni Association and the American Chiropractic Association. Dr. Patel is fluent in Gujarati. A lifelong runner, he has completed marathons and still competes in triathlons with his college mates.

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