Fish Oil for Asthma

I've not really explored supplements for improving my asthma symptoms. I tend to stick with mainstream treatments. It looks like there may be evidence to support fish oil reducing inflammation that causes asthma. I am always intrigued when the science comes back indicating that a treatment stemming from nature works. I appreciate that lab synthesized chemicals keep me happy and healthy.

The researchers looked at asthmatics who were taking steroids either in pill or inhaler format. They had study participants take an Omega-3 fish oil to see what effect it would have on inflammation. In those with milder asthma they saw a reduction in IgE production.1 IgE is the antibody that causes allergic reactions and asthma symptoms. However, patients who were on high doses of steroid pills did not see beneficial effects from the omega 3 fatty acids.1 The benefits were due to the imbalance people with asthma have in the cells responsible for controlling inflammation. While the steroids treat the inflammation itself they do not cure the underlying disease. The study looked at patient's B cells which are an immune cell.1 All study participants showed a decreased IgE level but the B cells of some patients were not as responsive. Asthmatics whose cells did not respond were taking steroid pills.1 To me it is interesting how asthmatics of different severities react differently to the same treatment. I would think that everyone would see a similar improvement. Obviously gaining a few percentage of lung function will be more impactful to some people than others.

I never really thought about how because I am controlled with just a steroid inhaler I might respond more favorably to another treatment. It makes sense, similar to throwing a bucket of water on a campfire vs a forest fire. While both fires are reduced by applying water it is much more noticeable the reduction with the smaller campfire. It makes sense that the same idea would apply to asthmatics of different severities.

Another interesting point that the study authors brought up was that they used a standardized purified compound from fish oil.1 They noted that without this standardization it is impossible to compare results from various studies and get the evidence based benefits from fish oil.1 Perhaps this means farther down the line we will see specific fish oil compounds brought to market as an asthma treatment. I am encouraged to see that there are still unexplored avenues from nature to treat asthma. It would be nice to get the benefit of reduced inflammation Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids studied without also impacting the immune system.1 It sure would be nice if I didn't have to check the box during flu shot season that says I am on medications that suppress my immune system. It would be great if the effects of fish oil were seen as profoundly by those more severe asthmatics on steroid pills. As I don't feel like there is a shortage of treatments for asthmatics like me who are well controlled on a medication or two.

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