Psoriasis, Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease that is characterized by high serum levels of various pro-inflammatory cytokines. Considering the inflammatory nature of this annoying skin condition that affects about 1 to 2 percent of the general population, it is not surprising that foods and supplements rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish and cod liver oil, have attracted interest as potential natural remedies for psoriasis. Below, we summarize the findings of some of the studies that have looked at the potential relationship between fish and omega-3 fatty acids on one hand, and psoriasis severity on the other.
High Consumption of (Oily) Fish Linked to Lower Risk of Psoriasis
An Italian study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine in 2015 found that traditional Mediterranean-style eating plans, and particularly a high consumption of fish, seafood, fruit, nuts and extra-virgin olive oil, were significantly lower in a group of psoriatic patients than in a group of healthy controls. Also the standardized Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which were used to assess the severity of psoriasis, were negatively correlated with the consumption of fish and seafood. This cross-sectional, observational case-control study involved 62 patients with mild-to-severe psoriasis and 62 healthy control subjects who were matched for age, sex and body mass index.
In another study, patients with psoriasis were asked to eat 170 grams of white fish daily for a four-week run-in period, after which the subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the first group continued with the white fish diet while the second group received 170 grams of oily fish daily for six weeks. In this study, the white fish diet had no statistically significant effect on psoriasis severity, but a modest improvement was observed in those who followed the oily fish diet. The authors concluded that regular consumption of oily fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids – such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, pilchard, kipper or herrings – might be a useful adjunct in the treatment of psoriasis.
Results of Studies on Fish Oil/Omega-3 Supplements Have Been Mixed
According to a paper written by a group of researchers from the Federal University of the Pernambuco, Brazil, trials using 3.6 to 14 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) for at least six weeks have reported some symptom relief in people with psoriasis (EPA is one of the main omega-3 fatty acids found in fish). However, lower doses used for a shorter period of time have not been shown to offer significant benefits for psoriatic patients. What's more, many of the studies that have reported a strong positive correlation between a high intake of omega-3 fatty acid supplements and improvement in psoriasis symptoms, such as itching and scaling, were not randomized, controlled trials. However, despite the mixed results of the existing studies and the lack of well-designed, randomized, placebo-controlled studies, the authors of the above-mentioned paper state that the consumption of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is recommended for people with psoriasis. Omega-3 rich fish also play a key role in Dr. John's Healing Psoriasis Cookbook, a 500-plus page cookbook dedicated to recipes specifically designed for people with psoriasis.
Talk to Your Doctor Before Taking Fish Oil or Omega-3 Supplements
If you want to try fish oil or omega-3 supplements, talk to your doctor first. Fish oil and other dietary supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids can increase the risk of bleeding, particularly if you also take blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix) or aspirin.
Dr. John Pagano has gained international fame with his ground-breaking book, Healing Psoriasis, which has been translated into numerous languages. In this compelling book, Dr. Pagano presents an all-natural regimen designed to alleviate and heal psoriasis without steroid creams, tar baths, injections, or ultraviolet treatments. Packed with invaluable diet and lifestyle tips, recipes, case studies, and before-and-after photos, Healing Psoriasis is a great resource for anyone interested in a drug-free treatment for psoriasis. Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
Make it a habit to visit HealWithFood.org's online Guide to Healing Psoriasis on a regular basis. Updated once a week, the sidebar on the home page of the guide contains tons of links to interesting nutrition-related articles hand-picked for psoriasis sufferers. It also contains a weekly smoothie recipe featuring ingredients with psoriasis-fighting potential, as well as a book tip.