NEW YORK, NY. Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine report that fish oil supplementation is highly effective in alleviating ulcerative colitis. Their small pilot study involved 10 patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis who had not been helped by conventional medical therapy. The patients were given 15 capsules of fish oil daily containing a total of 2.7 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 1.8 grams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The capsules were taken in 3 divided doses for an 8-week period. All patients underwent rigid sigmoidoscopy at entry to the study, at 4 weeks, and at the completion of the study. They also kept a daily log of the number of bowel movements, stool consistency, and any side effects. At the end of the 8 weeks 7 out of the 10 patients showed marked to moderate improvement and 4 out of 5 patients on prednisone were able to reduce their daily dose by 20 to 66%.
The researchers speculate that the EPA in the fish oil interferes with the synthesis of the highly inflammatory leukotriene B4 in the lining of the colon and that this effect accounts for the improvement. They recommend a large, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial to confirm the beneficial effects of fish oil supplementation in ulcerative colitis patients.
Salomon, Peter, et al. Treatment of ulcerative colitis with fish oil n-3-omega fatty acid: an open trial. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, Vol. 12, No. 2, 1990, pp. 157-61