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UCLA study reveals that fish oil may reduce seizures

Low doses of fish oil may reduce seizures in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, according to a UCLA study released Monday.

The small randomized controlled study, published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, shows that low doses of omega-3 fatty acids — the key ingredient in common fish-oil capsules — may help decrease the frequency of epileptic seizures when drug treatment no longer works.

In the study, just three capsules of fish oil a day — around 1,080 mg of omega-3 fatty acids — were found to significantly reduce the incidence of seizures in patients with so-called drug-resistant epilepsy. High doses appear
not to work.

The finding comes in stark contrast to previous studies using high doses of omega-3s that showed no clear beneficial effects, researchers at the UCLA School of Medicine said.

Those earlier, negative results were somewhat surprising because omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to cross into the central nervous system and to block calcium and sodium channels in nerve cells, thus preventing the
repetitive firing of the cells that characterizes seizure, the researchers said.

“The blockade of these channels — especially sodium channels — is the basis for many anti-epileptic drugs, like lamotrigine, lacosamide and carbamazepine,” said Christopher DeGiorgio, a UCLA professor of neurology and the principal investigator of the new study.

An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from epileptic seizures. Although drug therapies often successfully dampen the out-of-control neural firing that produces seizures, such drugs don’t work for everyone.

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