Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine found a potential therapeutic benefit from fish oil supplements "for treating alcohol abuse and psychiatric disorders."
The study was a multi-year study in which mice were given omega-3 fatty acids. In mice with bipolar disorder, "The fatty acid DHA, which is one of the main active ingredients in fish oil, 'normalized their behavior,' according to Alexander B. Niculescu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and the lead author of the study."
They found that these mice would stop being depressed and did not become "manic" when stressed - unlike bipolar mice which are usually highly depressed and become readily manic under stress.
Dr. Niculescu also said that "When [they] looked into their brains, using comprehensive gene expression studies, we were surprised to see that genes that are known targets of psychiatric medications were modulated and normalized by DHA." This is molecular proof that dietary omega-3 influences gene expression in the brain.
Alcohol Consumption Control
Researchers also found that mice given DHA showed a reduced desire for alcohol.
"'These bipolar mice, like some bipolar patients, love alcohol. The mice on DHA drank much less; it curtailed their alcohol abusive behavior,' he said, adding that this is a completely novel finding."
A separate experiment was conducted on alcohol-loving mice. The researchers saw similar results.
Dr. Niculescu said that he believes a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help the prevention of certain disorders, and could also help with alcoholism.
Learn more about EPA and DHA (Omega-3).