In 2005, Dr. Joseph Maroon and Jeff Bost PAC published the first article ever on the use of omega-3 fish oil for patients with non-surgical spine pain. The article, published in Surgical Neurology, entitled, ω-3 Fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain, discussed the results on a survey on 250 of Dr Maroon’s patients who had tried fish oil supplements for up to three months as an alternative to taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naprosyn. The results were and still are startling, with over 2/3’s of the patients were able to stop taking NSAIDs and only require omega-3 fish oil for pain control.
Since this publication we continue to learn more and more about the dangers of NSAIDs. Even a daily aspirin, another type of NSAID, has recently been found to have increased bleeding and have an early death risk when taken by people greater the 70 y/o who are otherwise healthy. The study involved more than 19,000 people ages 65 and older in the United States and Australia. The results were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In a recent article released this month on chronic inflammation and cardiac health the authors related the evidence of Omega-3 fish oil over NSAIDs for long term heart benefits. The article, Omega-3 PUFA vs. NSAIDs for Preventing Cardiac Inflammation, from Frontiers of Cardiovascular Medicine. Read their conclusions here:
Current literature suggests that chronic low-grade inflammation (LGI) is a primary causative factor behind chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Clearly, NSAIDs are preferred for acute inflammatory challenges resulting from physical injury or trauma whereas omega-3 PUFAs are at best a long term, mild anti-inflammatory solution. Thus, consuming omega-3 supplement can be considered as a preventative therapy, alternate to NSAIDs on resolving long-term chronic inflammatory stage
Noting the gastric side effects related to NSAIDs the authors reported:
NSAIDs can decrease the secretion of mucous-bicarbonate barrier between the gastric lumen and epithelial cells. Subsequently, in contact with low pH of the stomach, epithelial cells are killed and the integrity of the mucosa is lost, causing ulceration.
Dr Maroon continues to be a strong advocate for the many uses and benefits of Omega-3 dietary supplements and continues to recommend it daily for his patients. His second book on the benefits of omega-3s can be downloaded here – digital-fish-oil-book.