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Can fish oil help heal brain injuries? Part 2

Last week, we began a two-part blog series on the potential healing effects of fish oil on brain injuries. Comprised of omega-3 essential fatty acids, fish oil is believed to help brain trauma patients recover more quickly from their injuries by providing the brain with building blocks for recovery.

This was made clear in the case of a miner who suffered traumatic brain injuries while trapped in a mine and exposed to noxious gas for more than 40 hours. The exposure to those gases caused the man's myelin, or the protective sheath around his brain nerve cells, to be stripped. It is believed that the 20 grams of fish oil given to him every day helped his myelin recover and rebuild, and ultimately assisted in his previously-uncertain recovery.

The overarching reason that fish oil is so helpful in brain recovery, advocates say, is that about 30 percent of the brain is composed of omega-3 fatty acids. So providing the brain with additional omega-3s will help the brain as it works to heal itself. This is the key, says Dr. Michael Lewis of the Brain Health Education and Research Institute. "In the end, the brain has to heal itself," he says. "There are no magic cures for brain injury."

And it appears that omega-3 acids provided the car accident victim we discussed in our last post with what he needed to heal. Two weeks after beginning the same fish oil treatment program as the miner, the teen began to emerge from his coma. Three months later, he had recovered enough to attend his high school graduation.

Certainly, additional research is needed to determine the full scope of fish oil's usefulness and effectiveness. In the time being, these stories will continue to provide hope to traumatic brain injury patients and their families around the country.

Source: CNN, "Fish oil helped save our son," Stephanie Smith, Oct. 19, 2012

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