Fish Oil Could Relieve Diabetic Neuropathy

Nerve damage affects about 50 percent of people with diabetes, according to the American Physiological Society. Numbness, tingling and pain in the fingers, hands, legs, and feet are common side effects of diabetic neuropathy, which can lead to ulcers and - in worst-case scenarios - amputations.

A recent study suggests that supplementing with fish oil, however, may help to restore nerves to a healthy state.

"Fish oil would be easy to take, like a vitamin, and should have few side effects when combined with other medications," said lead study investigator Mark Yorek, from the VA Medical Center in Iowa City.

Amazing Omegas

The healing properties of fish oil lie in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation, lubricate the joints and improve eye health, liver function, and blood sugar control.

Using a mouse model, researchers studied how fish oil changed nerve sensitivity in diabetic mice who were getting fish oil injections. These rodents were compared with a control group of non-diabetic mice who did not receive fish oil supplements.

Results showed that while fish oil was not linked to lower glucose levels, it was associated with better nerve health - both measures of nerve density and sensory signal transmission improved in mice who received the injections.

"Even though a lot more work needs to be done, including clinical trials with human subjects, our animal studies suggest that fish oil can reverse some of the harmful effects of diabetes on the nerves," Yorek said.

Yorek continued, "Our intent is to do more animal studies to demonstrate that fish oil treatment can reverse the harmful effects of diabetes on nerves even after a long period of poorly controlled diabetes."

Sources: American Physiological Society, Journal of Neurophysiology
Photo: Pixabay

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