Mega-dose fish oil supplementation leads to quick recovery for teen with brain injury

Monday, January 27, 2014 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
Tags: fish oil, brain injury, rapid recovery

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(NaturalNews) When John Virgin and his son Bryce heard sirens just outside of their neighborhood in Palm Desert, California, they ventured out to see what was up.

Pulling up to the scene of the accident, John gestured for an emergency medical technician. Knowing that his older son Grant (16) had gone on a walk moments before, John was worried.

When he looked at the scene of the accident, he saw pavement covered with blood. When John described what his son Grant looked like to the medical technician, it all became so clear.

His heart sank. "At that point you realize your worst fear," he said. "I knew it was grave."

Just minutes prior to their arrival, his 16-year-old son had been rushed to a trauma center nearby. Struck by a hit and run driver, Grant was riddled with injuries, including a torn aorta, bone, spinal and skull fractures, and traumatic brain injury.

After rushing home to get his wife, John and his family sped over to the hospital.

Upon arriving, the family was met with sorrow and a team of doctors offering very little hope for Grant's recovery. They didn't think he would even make it through the night.

Family doesn't give up

Not giving up on their son, the family suddenly became diligent, thinking of ways to help save Grant.
Grant's mother, JJ Virgin, said, "It's like, how dare you not fight for my son's life?" It really took us getting very aggressive and assertive to save our son's life, because they weren't going to do it. And they told us not to. They told us to let him go."

Grant's father, John, said that they were told that Grant "would never be able to recognize anybody, he will never be able to focus his eyes, that the diffuse damage to his brain is so much that he's never going to be Grant again."

Indignant, the family refused to believe in their son's death sentence and went against doctor's orders. They began researching and stayed by him; he survived that first night.

After stabilizing Grant's body, the doctors told the family to wait as Grant laid in a coma. He spent much time on a ventilator and underwent multiple surgeries.

"The doctor told me, 'OK, now we wait.' and I go, 'We wait?' Surely there's something we can do?'"
The family became proactive and started rubbing him with progesterone cream, which is associated with reduced inflammation in the brain. After a couple of weeks, Grant awoke and began to muster words like "let's go" or "I love you."

JJ Virgin said, "You're holding on to anything that you can see and monitoring everything, every single day. And so it was very clear when the acceleration happened - really clear."

Family begins administering fish oil to their son

About nine weeks later, the family took alternative health advice from Dr. Barry Sears, who is an omega-3 expert. At his advice, they immediately began administering high doses of fish oil to Grant.
Dr. Sears explained how the brain's cell walls are partly composed of omega-3 fatty acids. By supplementing with fish oil, Grant's brain was provided with "building blocks" to help the brain repair itself.

Dr. Sears also credits fish oil's eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) content with turning off inflammation in the brain. "What we think is happening is, high levels of EPA coursing in the brain metabolize into resolvins, turning down and turning off inflammatory process," said Sears.

During brain injury, neurons snap, setting off waves of inflammation that can pound for weeks and months if not responded to. Fish oil responds to those waves of pain.

Citing other fish oil studies for brain damage repair, Dr. Sears said that fish oil seems to work when administered inside the optimal therapeutic window and in younger brains which are more receptive to intervention.

Their son begins to converse

In rehabilitation, Grant's family gave him a 20-gram-per-day dose of fish oil. Grant's cognitive processes steadily improved. After just two days of taking mega doses, Grant picked up the phone and made a call.

His mother, JJ, picked up the phone one night. "I get this call like midnight, and I'm asleep, and I wake up the next morning and go, 'Did Grant call me and did we have this whole conversation?' I just remember waking up the next morning going, 'I must have dreamed that, that couldn't have possibly happened.'"

It wasn't a dream. Grant was alert and having conversations.

It was just two months earlier when the family was told to let him go. Now, 16 months after the accident, Grant is alive and responding well. "And he's progressing every day," says his father.

"I think one of the saddest things is to get to a place and have someone tell you, 'You should just let your son die,' and you don't have the information to make the right decision," said JJ Virgin.
"There is such hopelessness about brain injury and there shouldn't be."

Dr. Sears is teaming up with other professionals to conduct broader case studies on fish oil to help other people with brain injuries. He is also working on an EPA-rich formulation of fish oil.

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