SHEFFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM. Psoriasis is a relatively common skin disorder that affects between one and two per cent of the population. Itching, scaling, and erythema (abnormal flushing of the skin) are common features. Abnormal levels of leukotrienes (metabolites of arachidonic acid) are believed to be involved in the development and progression of the disorder. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a major component of fish oils, is known to dampen the adverse effects of leukotrienes and has been proven to have significant anti-inflammatory effects.
Medical doctors at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital have released the results of a clinical trial designed to evaluate the effects of oral supplementation with fish oils in the treatment of psoriasis. The 28 patients involved in the trial had all been diagnosed with chronic psoriasis. They were randomized into two groups with one group receiving 10 fish oil capsules (containing 1.8 grams of EPA) and the other group receiving 10 olive oil capsules every day for the duration of the 12-week trial. After 8 weeks of treatment there was a significant reduction in itching, erythema and scaling in the fish oil group and a trend towards a decrease in the surface area of skin affected by the disease. No significant changes occurred in the placebo group. The researchers conclude that fish oil supplementation is useful in the treatment of psoriasis particularly when itching is a major problem.
Bittiner, S.B., et al. A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial of fish oil in psoriasis. The Lancet, February 20, 1988, pp. 378-80