Fatty Acids Help Boost Mood and Ease Alcoholism
Omega 3 fatty acids have long been praised for their benefits to the heart, but new research suggests that the dietary supplements may aid psychiatric disorders and alcohol abuse.
The research, done in a multi-year study at the Indiana University School of Medicine, examined omega 3 fatty acids at the molecular level to identify these potential benefits. They were then given to mice with constructed models of bipolar disorder, which induced depression and manic behavior when stressed.
According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Alexander Niculescu, the fatty acid DHA “normalized their behavior, they are not depressed and when subjected to stress, they do not become manic.”
Upon examining the molecular structure of their brains, Niculescu and his researchers were surprised to discover that DHA was modulating the problem areas.
They were also surprised with another added benefit—mice given DHA also showed a reduced desire for alcohol, which the bipolar mice had become dependent on. After being given DHA, the mice drank less and were less likely to engage in alcohol abusive behavior. To verify this effect, researcher studied the effects of DHA on alcohol-preferring P rats. They obtained similar results.
DHA is one of the main active ingredients in fish oil. It and other omega 3 fatty acids are known to be beneficial to health, and lack major side effects. Niculescu said he hopes that in the future, omega 3s could be used to minimize the amount of prescription drugs needed to moderate psychiatric disorders.