Chronic Inflammation: How Fish Oil May Help
Do you live in Ottawa and suffer from chronic inflammation in your body?
Chronic inflammation can be longstanding discomfort lasting longer than expected after an original injury.
For example, did you sprain your ankle and weeks or months later, the problem still lingers?
The pain or discomfort you feel is usually the result of inflammation around the injury.
When an injury occurs, inflammation is a fundamental process the body uses to heal the body.
Sometimes, however, the normal inflammatory process gets out of control, and the problem persists.
Did you know that a lack of compounds in fish oil could be responsible for this lack of control?
Today, I will explain how healthy inflammation occurs, what happens when it gets out of control, and how fish oil and aspirin can help.
In This Article:
Let’s learn how healthy inflammation occurs following an injury such as a sprained ankle.
When you sprain your ankle, you damage the tissues, such as the ligaments that support the joint.
At a microscopic level, this damage takes the form of damaged tissue fragments.
The presence of damaged fragments stimulates cells in the tissue, called fibroblasts, to release Chemokines. These chemicals attract particular white blood cells, namely Neutrophils, from the nearby blood vessels and into the tissue.
The Neutrophils pass from the blood vessel into the tissue. Once in the tissue, the Neutrophils move toward the damaged fragments and envelope them, a process known as Phagocytosis.
After enveloping the particles, the Neutrophils release chemicals that attract another type of white blood cell called a monocyte into the tissue.
When Neutrophils enter the tissue from the blood vessel, the chemical environment in the tissue tells the white blood cell to begin dying. This process is known as Apoptosis.
The relevance of this fact will become more apparent when we talk about harmful inflammation.
When the Monocytes enter the tissue, they turn into cells called macrophages. The role of the Macrophages is to envelop the dying neutrophils containing the tissue fragments.
After enclosing the Neutrophils, the Macrophages release chemicals that stop any more Neutrophils from entering the blood vessels. The Monocytes then leave the tissue via nearby lymph vessels, which is known as the resolution of inflammation.
Returning to the example of the sprained ankle, if resolution occurs where all the dying neutrophils and tissue fragments are taken away, the ankle will no longer feel inflamed.
Inflammation is healthy or normal when resolution occurs. Harmful or chronic inflammation occurs when resolution does not happen.
Let’s revisit the example of the sprained ankle to show how resolution does not happen.
Firstly, the sprained ankle causes damaged tissue fragments. The presence of the damaged tissue causes fibroblasts to release chemicals that attract Neutrophils into the tissue, and they begin to die and start enveloping the particles.
At this point, the Neutrophils should release chemicals to attract Monocytes into the tissue.
These chemicals are made from EPA and DHA, compounds found in fish oil.
If you are deficient in these compounds, there will not be enough Monocytes/Macrophages to eat and take away the dying neutrophils.
As explained above, when neutrophils die and are taken away by the Macrophages, this process is called Apoptosis.
If the Neutrophils are allowed to die in the tissue, this type of cell death is called Secondary Necrosis.
With Secondary Necrosis, the neutrophils spill their contents into the tissues. The contents contain compounds that are damaging to the tissues.
If further tissue damage occurs, this will attract more Neutrophils from the blood and more inflammation in the ankle.
How Fish Oil Can Help Chronic Inflammation
To help this situation, you need to attract more Monocytes into the tissue that turn into Macrophages to clear away the dying neutrophils.
If you are deficient, taking fish oil containing EPA and DHA will allow the Neutrophils to release more chemicals that attract Monocytes.
A medication that can also help is asprin. Asprin also stimulates Neutrophils to release chemicals that attract Monocytes.
When using Fish Oil and asprin, you must be cautious if the person has blood clotting issues.
There are also circumstances where taking fish oil could make the problem worse.
If a person has a low level of antioxidants due to a genetic mutation, taking fish oil could increase inflammation.
In such cases, it is recommended that the person take a bioavailable form of glutathione (the body’s master antioxidant) alongside the fish oil.
What Do You Think?
Are you considering taking fish oil for your chronic inflammation?
Have you already tried it? Did It help or make it worse?
Either way, leave a comment below.
Do You Need Help with Resolving Chronic Inflammation?
Suppose you need help and live in Ottawa. In that case, I suggest you book a free functional medicine discovery session in person or via video to determine whether my Functional medicine approach fits your needs.
The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply this information without first speaking with your doctor.
Hi Dominick, I started taking fish oil again a couple months ago and I almost instantly noticed a positive difference in my knees. I had been taking fish oil for years but stopped at some point for at least a couple years. Not sure why I stopped before but I’m going to keep taking it.
Hi Johanne, Thanks for your comment and great to hear that fish oil is helping you. Dom:)