It is well-known that fish oil is beneficial to cardiovascular health. Fish oils are rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the so-called “good fats.”
New research evidence suggests that fish oil may also help treat other chronic diseases, especially inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
According to Medline Plus Encyclopedia,
Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that causes pain, inflammation, stiffness and loss of function of the joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike osteoarthritis, which the common arthritis that comes with old age, rheumatoid arthritis can occur in young adults starting between ages 25 and 55 years. There are different grades of rheumatoid arthritis. It can last only for a short period of time; it can come and go. The severe form can last a lifetime and can lead to disability. Aside from the joints, rheumatoid arthritis can also attack the eyes, mouth, and lungs.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, e.g. the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. I Researchers from the University of London and Harvard Medical School report that consumption of fish oil can reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system targets healthy tissue by mistake leading to white blood cells sticking to the endothelium (blood vessel lining). The human body converts DHA in the fish oil into Resolvin D2, which has some anti-inflammatory properties. Resolvin D2 causes the endothelial cells to produce small amount of nitric oxide, a chemical signal that discourages the white blood cells from sticking to the endothelium, thus preventing inflammation.
According to study leader Mauro Perretti, Professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen Mary, University of London
“We have known for some time that fish oils can help with conditions like arthritis which are linked to inflammation. What we’ve shown here is how the body processes a particular ingredient of fish oils into the chemical Resolvin D2. This seems to be a very powerful chemical and a small amount can have a large effect.”
The study suggests that fish oil, DHA and Resolvin D2 could form the basis of new treatments, not only for rheumatoid arthritis, but also for other inflammatory diseases. An additional advantage of fish oil is that it is natural, does not come with side effects associated with anti-inflammatory pharmacologic agents such as suppression of the immune system and increased cardiovascular risks.
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