Fish oil hope for psychosis sufferers
Published 02/02/2010 | 05:00
Fish oil supplements may help to preserve the sanity of people on the edge of psychosis, a study suggests.
Researchers found that patients at risk of suffering a serious psychotic episode were less likely to develop symptoms after taking fish oil capsules containing omega-3 fatty acids.
The oil may provide a promising new way of helping schizophrenia patients, who could suffer from poor fatty acid metabolism, say the Austrian scientists.
The researchers identified 81 people at very high risk of experiencing psychotic disorders characterised by delusions, hallucinations and confused thoughts.
Up to 40pc of people in this category will become fully psychotic in the course of a year.
For 12 weeks, 41 were randomly assigned to take daily fish oil capsules containing 1.2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. The remaining 40 were given a placebo. By the end of the study, two patients in the omega-3 group and 11 in the placebo group had become seriously psychotic.
The group taking the supplement was 27.5pc less likely to progress to this state than the other group.
The scientists, led by Paul Amminger from the Medical University of Vienna, wrote: "The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent or at least delay the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotics for the (early symptomatic) phase."