Omega 3 EPA: Nature's Very Own Anti-Depressant
By Dave McEvoy
Since Dr Malcolm Peet, a consultant psychiatrist at Sheffield's Swallow Court Hospital, released his findings about the effects of Ethyl EPA and its effects on people suffering from depression and low moods, many other studies have been performed using Ethyl EPA to help treat depression and related disorders. The vast majority of the studies that have been performed consistently confirmed that Ethyl EPA, a natural substance found in Omega 3 fish oil, helps relieve depression and low moods.
The idea that high grade Omega 3 EPA could be used to help combat depression and other related disorders came from the late Dr Horribin, who as early as the 1970s was a pioneer in lipid research involving the brain and central nervous system. Since the findings at Sheffield, studies have been conducted around the world... Harvard University 1999, London's Hammersmith Hospital 2001 and Israel's Ben Gurion University 2002, to name but a few.
EPA As Part Of A Healthy Diet
EPA is part of the Omega 3 chain of ecosanoids and is most commonly found in fatty fish such as fresh salmon, mackerel, pilchards and sardines. Over the past 100 years the diet patterns of most people in the west has shifted dramatically to include far more hydrogenated oils and Trans fatty acids (bad fats). This is largely due to the increased consumption of fast food and ready made meals. Even people who think they eat a healthy diet consume way too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3.
Researchers have recently found that a diet high in Trans fatty acids could affect the mood-stabilizing hormones within the brain. This is thought to be due to the saturated fats slowing down the messaging system within the brain. Should this happen then the onset of depression could occur.
How Does EPA Work?
While the benefits of high grade EPA have been well documented, the scientific community still don t know exactly how EPA works on the brain. One theory released by Dr Basant Puri is that it eases the passage of the signals over the tiny gaps in the brain called synapses. Another theory was that the high grade EPA actually worked similarly to lithium and had anti-depressant properties of its own.
Until recently it was widely accepted in the medical community that once a human reached maturity that the adult brain could not grow anymore. In a paper just released by Dr Puri, his findings show otherwise. Dr Puri scanned a 21 year patient before treating him with high grade Pure EPA. After the course of treatment he rescanned the young man, only to find that the grey matter of the brain had increased in size.
Omega 3 EPA And The Body
As well as EPA being very good for helping to balance mood it has other well documented effects on the body, these include blood thinning properties, decreased risk of heart attack, decreased growth rate of atheroesclerotic plaque and slightly lower blood pressure. There is also some limited scientific evidence to show that high grade EPA has helped people suffering from:
Chronic fatigue syndrome / ME
Obsessive compulsive disorder
EPA From Food & Supplements
Any good doctor or nutritionist will tell you that the best way to get any nutrient is to eat a balanced diet of the correct amount of carbohydrates, protein and Omega essential fatty acids. In the case of Omega 3 EPA, this would normally be in the form of fish; unfortunately due to the high concentration levels of EPA needed to obtain a therapeutic dose, you would have to consume a large amount of oily fish daily and sadly, due to the pollution levels found in our oceans today, this is not advisable.
Omega 3 EPA can also be found in high doses in certain fish oil supplements. When choosing such a supplement you should insist on the highest quality fish oil. It should also have as high an EPA to DHA ratio as possible, for maximum therapeutic effect.
In conclusion, the large majority of scientific trials using high grade Omega 3 Ethyl EPA point towards this natural oil being very beneficial for many conditions. A product with a high EPA to DHA ratio is considered more beneficial by some leading UK doctors.