Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, from fish oil reduce the inflammation of autoimmune
conditions. In particular, they are modulators of eicosanoid based inflammation pathways,
including regulating levels of arachidonic acid that promote inflammatory responses.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation also increases cell membrane content of EPA and
DHA that discourage inflammation (Calder 2010). Neglecting omega-3 fatty acids can
therefore result in an incomplete response to other efforts.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the best studied among the autoimmune conditions in which
omega-3 fatty acids have been administered. Doses of 2000 mg per day of EPA and DHA
(combined total) have been demonstrated to reduce joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
(Fortin 1995). An important clarification: omega-3 fatty acids as sole treatment are
inadequate for autoimmune conditions. Not surprisingly, low doses of omega-3s as sole
treatment without addressing issues such as grain consumption and vitamin D deficiency
generates mixed or weak responses.
Omega-3 fatty acids exert benefits when added to
other strategies that reduce autoimmune inflammation, such as grain elimination, vitamin D supplementation, and management of bowel flora (below). To take advantage of these
effects, doses of 3000-4000 mg EPA + DHA per day, i.e., higher than that used in most
clinical trials, are also required.