The Importance of Omega – 3 Fatty Acids

We live in a pro-inflammatory world. Back pain, depression, auto-immune diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity are at an all-time high. These conditions are all due to excess inflammation in the body. Commonly NSAIDS are prescribed for back pain and prescription meds for conditions such as type 2 diabetes, depression, and rheumatoid arthritis. What if we can combat these conditions naturally, without over the counter or prescription medications? Well you can, and the regimen is fairly simple but requires some changes on your part.

Before we discuss dietary changes that are required to combat these conditions, let’s discuss how the inflammation got there in the first place. Multiple recent studies and articles blame the ratio of Omega – 6 fatty acids to Omega – 3 fatty acids in the diet. Omega – 6 fatty acids are found in red meats, vegetable oils such as canola, safflower and soy products. Soy and corn are very frequently used in the American diet not only as a processed food but it is the primary feed given to live stock, as it is subsidized by the government and inexpensive for ranchers. Ranchers love it too as it really fattens up the cows!

All cell membranes of the body are made of lipids (aka fatty acids). If our fat consumption is comprised primarily of Omega – 6 fatty acids (pro-inflammatory fatty acids) our cells walls will be comprised of that fat type; promoting the release of inflammatory molecules throughout the body Ultimately resulting in inflammatory diseases such auto-immune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis. type 1 diabetes, degenerative arthritis and atherosclerotic plaque. Even though type 2 diabetes is not an auto-immune disease, too much Omega – 6 in the diet has been shown to contribute to its development.

Now that I have scared the pants off you, what do you do about managing the inflammation in your body? The two key components of living a less inflamed life is supplementing with Omega – 3 fatty acids, reduce Omega – 6 fatty acid intake, increase fruit and vegetable intake, and participate in resistance type exercise.

Omega – 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients meaning that you must get them from your diet. Dietary sources of Omega – 3 fatty acids include coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, fish oil from cold water fish, walnuts and flax seeds to name a few. Not only are Omega – 3 fatty acids anti-inflammatory, they block the pain chemical pathways and have repeatedly been shown to be safer than over the counter pain medications. Side effects of NSAIDs are gastro-intestinal upset, stomach ulceration, hemorrhage possible kidney failure, the potential for stroke or even death. The most common side effect of Omega – 3 fatty acids are fishy after taste, soft stools and the potential for bleeding in patients taking medications such as Warfarin. Omega – 3 fatty acids can even be taken safely during pregnancy and is even beneficial for the developing fetus.

In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, when taken long term (75 days), reduced joint pain and stiffness has been reported associated osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and fibromyalgia. It has even been shown to reduce cholesterol levels better than statin drugs. Even the American Heart Association recommends Omega – 3 fatty acid supplementation.

The recommended therapeutic dosage of Omega -3 fatty acids is between 2400 – 7200 mg/day. A lot of research that I have read recommends 3600mg mg/ day which has been shown to aid in the recovery of thoracic outlet syndrome, cervical radiculopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome and burns.

Other natural pain relieving anti-inflammatory supplements are White Willow Bark, Curcumin/ Turmeric and Bowswelia. White Willow is recommended at 240mg/day. It is a precursor to the active ingredient in aspirin, so patients with aspirin allergies or children should not take White Willow Bark. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory supplement with no known side effects and is recommended at 400-600mg 3 x day. Bowswelia is both anti-inflammatory and pain relieving and is recommended at 300-500 mg 2-3 x day.

Shameless plug, we sell an Omega – 3 fatty acid here at the clinic which tastes like lemon meringue pie filling with zero fishy after taste. I can personally attest to that. If you are in the office we have an open bottle of the Omega – 3 emulsion that you can taste test. We also sell White Willow Forte which has White Willow Bark, Turmeric, Bromelain, and Boswelia all in one supplement. This product works great for acute pain and inflammation.

If you have any questions regarding Omega – 3 fatty acid supplementation please feel free to e-mail us at or call us at 253-942-3300.

Can You Lower Your Cholesterol Levels Without Statin Drugs?

Managing your cholesterol levels are important. High cholesterol levels in the blood raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. To combat this heath condition, the medical community usually promotes taking statin drugs.

How do statins work? Statins inhibit the enzyme that allows production of cholesterol in the liver. It does not have an effect on lowering the lipoproteins (VLDL and LDL) which are also a risk marker and are the transportation molecules that take the cholesterol to organs and tissues for the processing of hormones. New research has shown, that altering the amount of the lipoproteins, the transportation molecules, has a more positive effect on managing cholesterol levels. Research has also found that taking statin drugs does help reduce heart attack and stroke with PRE-EXISTING heart disease, but not in those that do not.

Statin drugs can also have some nasty side effects. Possible side effects are as follows:

  1. Frequent interactions with other medications
  2. Muscle and joint aching
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Constipation or diarrhea
  5. Rash

More serious side effects are as follows.

  1. Possible liver damage
  2. Possible kidney damage
  3. Increased blood sugar levels
  4. Possible development of type 2 diabetes
  5. Myositis (muscle swelling)/ rhabdomyolysis (muscle break down)

If taking statin drugs is something you want to avoid, there are natural alternatives. The number one supplement for reducing cholesterol levels in taking Niacin (B3). Niacin has been shown to reduce the production of the VLDL and LDL’s and increase production of HDL’s. Studies have been shown that Niacin can reduce LDL levels by 15-25% and decrease triglycerides (fatty energy molecules) by 2-50%, and increase HDL levels by 15-25%. To achieve these results, Niacin must be taken at a dosage between 1-4 mg daily. Even niacin has some side effects, but they are not serious:

  1. Flushing
  2. Headache
  3. Upset stomach/ nausea
  4. Sweating
  5. Dizziness

In addition to supplementing with Niacin, adding garlic, fiber and Omega – 3 fatty acids is recommended. An anti-inflammatory dose of Omega – 3 fatty acids is 3600mg a day. Fiber consumption should be around 25-30g per day though fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods.

Exercise, particularly resistance training is an essential component of lower LDL levels and increasing HDL levels. Resistance training should be performed three to five days a week.

Always consult your physician before changing or stopping your medication regiment or there could be potential negative side effects.