Know the basics
What is Fish oils used for?
Fish oil can be obtained from eating fish or by taking supplements. Fish that are especially rich in the beneficial oils known as omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout, and menhaden.
Fish oil supplements are usually made from mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, or seal blubber. Fish oil supplements often contain small amounts of vitamin E to prevent spoilage. They might also be combined with calcium, iron, or vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, or D.
Fish oil is used for a wide range of conditions. It is most often used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. Some people use fish oil to lower blood pressure or triglyceride levels (fats related to cholesterol). Fish oil has also been tried for preventing heart disease or stroke. The scientific evidence suggests that fish oil really does lower high triglycerides, and it also seems to help prevent heart disease and stroke when taken in the recommended amounts. Ironically, taking too much fish oil can actually increase the risk of stroke.
Fish may have earned its reputation as “brain food” because some people eat fish to help with depression, psychosis, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, and other thinking disorders.
Some people use fish oil for dry eyes, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a very common condition in older people that can lead to serious sight problems.
Women sometimes take fish oil to prevent painful periods; breast pain; and complications associated with pregnancy such as miscarriage, high blood pressure late in pregnancy, and early delivery.
Fish oil is also used for diabetes, asthma, developmental coordination disorders, movement disorders, dyslexia, obesity, kidney disease, weak bones (osteoporosis), certain diseases related to pain and swelling such as psoriasis, and preventing weight loss caused by some cancer drugs.
Fish oil is sometimes used after heart transplant surgery to prevent high blood pressure and kidney damage that can be caused by the surgery itself or by drugs used to reduce the chances that the body will reject the new heart. Fish oil is sometimes used after coronary artery bypass surgery. It seems to help keep the blood vessel that has been rerouted from closing up.
How does it work?
A lot of the benefit of fish oil seems to come from the omega-3 fatty acids that it contains. Interestingly, the body does not produce its own omega-3 fatty acids. Nor can the body make omega-3 fatty acids from omega-6 fatty acids, which are common in the Western diet. A lot of research has been done on EPA and DHA, two types of omega-3 acids that are often included in fish oil supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce pain and swelling. This may explain why fish oil is likely effective for psoriasis and dry eyes. These fatty acids also prevent the blood from clotting easily. This might make fish oil helpful for some heart conditions.
Know the precautions & warnings
What should I know before using Fish oils?
Keep fish oils in a dry area, away from direct sunlight.
If you are taking anticoagulants, you should not take them with this product.
The regulations for an herbal supplement are less strict than the regulations for a drug. More studies are needed to determine its safety. The benefits of taking this herbal supplement must outweigh the risks before use. Consult with your herbalist or doctor for more information.
How safe is Fish oils?
Fish oil is likely safe for most people, including pregnant and breast-feeding women, when taken in low doses (3 grams or less per day). Fish oils should not be used in children or those who are hypersensitive, or have breast/prostate cancer or heart disease.
Know the side effects
What kind of side effects may I have from Fish oils?
Fish oils can cause several side effects including:
- Reduce the immune system’s activity;
- Bad breath;
- Loose stools;
Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about side effects, please consult your herbalist or doctor.
Know the interactions
What interactions may I have with Fish oils?
This herbal supplement may interact with your current medications or medical conditions. Consult with your herbal healer or doctor before using.
Understand the dosage
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your herbalist or doctor before using this medication.
What is the usual dose for Fish oils?
The usual dose for an adult for capsules/liquid take orally is 3-9 g/day. Every product may vary in dosage. Please follow instructions on the package.
The dose for this herbal supplement may be different for every patient. The dose that you take depends on your age, health, and several other conditions. Herbal supplements are not always safe. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for your appropriate dosage.
What form does Fish oils come in?
This herbal supplement may be available in the following dosage forms: capsules and liquid.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Skidmore-Roth, Linda. Mosby's Handbook Of Herbs & Natural Supplements. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, 2001. Print version. Page 268.
Fish oil. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-993-fish%20oil.aspx?activeingredientid=993&activeingredientname=fish%20oil. Assessed August 7, 2016.
Fish oil. http://www.drugs.com/sfx/fish-oil-side-effects.html. Assessed August 7, 2016.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017