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Volume 38, No. 2

Omega 3 Oils

Major emphasis is focused on the essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6), which are the precursors of prostaglandins—chemicals that are amazingly potent and rapid in action. Recently, knowledge has been expanding about these chemicals, which are extremely active on the cellular level. All of them are produced only from the essential fatty acids. To give an idea of their vast importance:

Prostaglandins operate in most tissues of the body to regulate just about every bodily function, including:

  • Cardiovascular and kidney system function, including dilation or constriction of blood vessels and clot formation
  • Digestive system function, including regulation of stomach secretions
  • The healing and repair process, including regulation of cell division
  • Immune system function, including allergy responses
  • The inflammatory process, including fever and pain regulation
  • Nervous system function, including regulation of neural circuits in the brain
  • Reproductive system function, including induction of labor or menstrual cramps
  • Thermoregulation, or the maintenance of a constant body temperature
  • Various other functions, including control of fluid pressure in the eyes, ears, and joints.

The list seems endless—and it may be. Scientists are still discovering regulatory effects of the prostaglandins.

There are many different families of prostaglandins—some produced from the Omega 3 oils and some from the Omega 6 oils. They often have complementary functions, such as, producing inflammation or letting it subside and constricting or relaxing blood vessels. In other words, we need a balance in our intake of these essential oils. Unfortunately, our modern, processed foods have reduced especially the Omega 3 oils, which are the more fragile and easily spoiled. "Scientists speculate that our prehistoric ancestors probably ate roughly equal amounts of Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Today most people in the industrialized world eat diets with Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios of 10-to-1 or even 30-to-1." The authors give evidence that this extreme disproportion is a basic factor behind our "modern day plagues," including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, and mental problems from epilepsy to schizophrenia.

Our modern processed diet has many other deleterious consequences that are synergistic with the almost total lack of the essential Omega-3 oils. The authors emphasize the lack of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Certain vitamins and minerals (for example, vitamin B6 and zinc) must be present for the conversion of the essential oils into the active prostaglandins.

Also, the essential fatty acids are needed for producing healthy cell membranes, as well as for prostaglandin formation. Both processes are inhibited by unhealthy foods and habits:

  • Too much saturated fat [from obese aminals]
  • Trans-fatty acids [in margarines and other processed foods containing partially hydrogenated oils]
  • High amounts of refined sugar and flour
  • Too much caffeine and alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Recreational drugs
  • Careless [and/or excessive] usage of prescription drugs
  • Environmental pollutants.

In the early 1980s Dr. Rudin had a forty-four patient study, in which he had the patients carefully enhance their Omega-3 fatty-acid status by supplementing their diet, almost always with flax seed oil, plus the nutrients essential for its proper metabolism. The cases are exceedingly interesting. Each was monitored to reach a balance of nutrients. The patients had multiple symptoms, which cleared in most cases and in varying lengths of time. For example, arthritic pain could be reduced in a couple of months, skin often became smoother in a week, and mood improved in two hours.

In order to get improvement when the intake of Omega-3 oils has been deficient, Dr. Rudin gives guidelines for daily megadoses of flaxseed oil—starting with a small amount, then, for a body weight of 100 pounds—1 tablespoon; for 125 pounds—1 to 2 tablespoons; . . . 200 pounds—3 to 4 tablespoons, all approximate. (One tablespoon is equivalent to 12 one-gram capsules.) Careful monitoring is necessary. For example, Dr. Rudin found that a manic-depressive, who had improved greatly, increased the oil and went into a manic state. When it was again reduced, she was fine. Dr. Rudin points out that with too high a dosage, the condition that we want to ameliorate, recurs. (We are reminded of The Reverse Effect by NOHA member Walter A. Heiby) The authors also give detailed instructions for pinpointing food sensitivities and the procedures to use—eliminating the incriminated foods and then when a balanced condition of health has been attained, often the ordinary foods can be reintroduced with no problems.

When a stable condition of improvement has been reached, the authors describe the careful reduction of dosages, not only of Omega-3 oils, but also of any supplements of synergistic vitamins and minerals. One program involves partial substitution of other oils with lower content of Omega-3 oils, such as walnut, soy, and wheat germ. They express disappointment with soy oil because "of hydrogenation and the development of a soybean with little Omega-3." They have helpful charts giving the Omega-3 and Omega-6 content of many oils and foods; also, the fiber content.

They explain carefully the importance of the various kinds of fiber both for a healthy gut and for helping to neutralize toxins. Interestingly:

A fiber-generated substance called mammalian lignan has generated much research because of its exceptional promise as a deterrent to cancer. Mammalian lignan is formed in the colon by the action of colon bacteria on certain kinds of plant fiber, fiber that exists mainly in various whole grains, seeds, and berries. This fiber’s job in the plant is to protect the seeds against fungi, viruses, and bacteria, and it may also do this job in the human intestines.

Breast cancer patients, as well as individuals at high risk for breast and colon cancer, have been found to make and excrete far fewer lignans than other people. Of all the high-fiber foods tested, flaxseed, either whole or ground into meal, produces the highest amount of lignans in the intestines, generating 100 times more lignans than any other fiber source. As a result flaxseed and flaxseed meal are being used in both animal and human studies on cancer prevention.

The authors have great chapters on combining appropriate nutrients when preparing to have children and also on feeding infants and children with their special and changing needs. In particular, for their developing brains and circulatory systems, infants and children need a dependable supply of the long-chain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Preemies and very young infants do not have the enzymes needed to elongate the short-chained Omega-3s and Omega-6s. Human milk has what the infants need for their brains and eyes and hearts. Cows milk doesn’t. In Europe and the Far East, these particular essential fatty acids are added to infant formulas, but not in the United States. NOHA’s April 9th speaker, Michael A. Crawford, PhD, has been working on these problems for thirty years and forwarded testimony to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 2nd, 1996, stating, in part, that he and his colleagues believe "It is no longer ethical to feed term infants who cannot have their mother’s milk on formula which does not contain [long-chain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids]." Dr. Rudin and Clara Felix cite the work of Dr. Crawford, who has pointed out that, in order for our ancient ancestors to develop much larger brains than their closest relatives, the apes, they must have consumed the fatty acids that the brain requires.

This book, Omega 3 Oils, is of great interest to many people—from those with the so-called degenerative diseases to the young people either hoping to have children or already caring for them.

A challenging book has just been written on the "modernization-disease syndrome" and how it results from the major deficiencies in our modern-day diet. It is titled Omega 3 Oils: Why You Can’t Afford to Live without Essential Oils to Improve Mental Health, Fight Degenerative Diseases, and Extend Your Life * by Donald Rudin, MD, and Clara Felix.
Avery Publishing Group, Garden City Park, New York,1996, 216 pages, soft cover.

Article from NOHA* NEWS, Spring 1997

*The American Nutrition Association was formerly known as the Nutrition for Optimal Health Association [NOHA].

For informational purposes only - not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor an endorsement by the American Nutrition Association®. Use permitted for non-profit and non-commercial uses or by healthcare professionals in their practice, with attribution to Other use only with written ANA℠ permission. Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the ANA℠. Works by a listed author subject to copyrights as marked. © 2010 ANA℠