(Natural News) Patients with fibromyalgia might find relief by eating more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that the inflammation-fighting and immune system-boosting properties of the good fatty acids alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that inflicts unrelenting depression, fatigue, and pain in the form of tender points on the muscles. The result is absolute misery for the patient.
Since the symptoms are non-specific, most healthcare professionals issue non-specific pharmaceutical drugs to their patients. Using those drugs often results in adverse effects that only worsen the health of the patient.
Health supplements offer alternative approaches to improving the troublesome symptoms of fibromyalgia. They relieve the muscle pain of the tender points, improve the mood of the patient, and increase the energy available to the patient. Alternative health practitioners often recommend 5-HTP for patients who want a better quality of sleep, SAM-e for dealing with depression, and NADH for minimizing or even eliminating the effects of fatigue.
Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are recommended for different health reasons. However, their anti-inflammatory and immune-strengthening effects are also effective against some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. (Related: What you need to know about omega-3, 6 and 9.)
The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids
Aging, cancer, coronary artery disease, depression, and similar health conditions trigger severe levels of stress. The body responds by releasing large amounts of interleukin-1, a cytokine that triggers inflammation.
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Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids regulate the inflammatory response of the immune system. Their ability to reduce the severity and number of times an inflammation occurs reduces the risk of chronic diseases developing.
The most common examples of these good fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They improve cholesterol levels, minimize the damaging effects of oxidative stress, and trigger the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines that throttle down inflammation.
People who take more than two grams of omega-3 fatty acids every day display an upper limit for triggering the anti-inflammatory response. Once a person hits that limit, he or she releases enough inflammation-fighting cytokines that effectively suppress inflammatory attacks.
Researchers remain unsure if the optimum dosage of omega-3 fatty acids is affected by the type and severity of the chronic disease that afflicts a patient. However, fibromyalgia patients who take good fatty acids as a supplement do experience health benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids strengthen the immune system to fight off diseases like fibromyalgia
Another health benefit of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation involves immunity. The fatty acids support the immune response of the body in an unspecified way.
In 2002, researchers from the University of Southampton reported that patients with chronic inflammation had low concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. Conversely, the participants displayed unhealthy levels of arachidonic acid and other omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-6 fatty acids are less healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids. They serve as precursors for prostaglandins and leukotrienes that trigger inflammatory responses in the body.
The Southampton researchers added omega-3 fatty acids into this mix. They found that EPA sequences replaced parts of the arachidonic acid, which led to reductions in inflammation levels.
Other studies indicated that omega-3s hindered the natural signal that summoned more immune cells to an area infested by pathogens. They prevented monocytes, neutrophils, and other similar molecules from triggering unnecessary or excessive inflammation in healthy or vulnerable areas like the joints or the gastrointestinal system.
Omega-3 fatty acids may alleviate symptoms of asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammation-related diseases. As such, they may also improve fibromyalgia, a disease that has its roots in complicated reactions of the immune system.