Dependent on alcohol? A fatty acid found in fish oil could curb the desire to drink (posed by model)
Fish oil supplements have been hailed as a wonder treatment for conditions ranging from autism to dementia.
Now new evidence suggests the omega 3 fatty acids could tackle alcohol abuse as well.
Scientists from the Indian University School of Medicine made the discovery by chance when studying whether fish oil had any benefit for bipolar disorder.
Lead author Dr Alexander Niculescu found that the fatty acid DHA, which is the main ingredient of fish oil, ‘normalised’ behaviour of mice with the condition.
‘They are not depressed and when subjected to stress they do not become manic,’ Dr Niculescu said.
However, an unexpected finding of the research was that the fatty acid also reduced the desire for alcohol.
‘These bipolar mice, like some bipolar patients, love alcohol,’ Dr Niculescu said.
‘The mice on DHA drank much less, it curtailed their alcohol abusive behaviour.’
The researchers then gave DHA to alcohol-preferring rats and noted a similar effect.
‘We believe a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may help the treatment and prevention of bipolar disorder, and may help with alcoholism as well,’ Dr Niculescu said.
He said there was now substantial evidence at the molecular level that omega-3 fatty acids worked on the brain in a similar way to psychiatric drugs. He added that the next step would be clinical studies in humans.
‘A lot more work needs to be done in this area,’ Dr Niculescu said.
The study was reported in the online journal Translational Psychiatry.

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