Currently, brain injury treatment has largely been limited to bedrest and observational treatment. A recent published study found that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, a common component in salmon, can lead to faster brain injury recovery.
Traumatic brain injuries are caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head or neck, causing jarring of the brain inside the skull. This can damage the brain, leading to neuroinflammation and other secondary injuries. Currently, few effective therapies are available for treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Repetitive cases of TBI have been implicated in long-term disabilities, including depression, anxiety and cognitive decline, so early treatment is crucial to mitigate the effects and possible chronic consequences.
Recently, an article published in Molecular Neurobiology found that exogenous intake of omega-3 fatty acids led to elevated endogenous levels, which was found to decrease reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and reduce cell death after TBI. ROS are known to be toxic chemicals to the body, causing damage to cells and genetic information. The study followed mice subject to three diets and found significantly reduced levels of parenchymal cell death, the functional cells of the body (as opposed to structural cells). Additionally, elevated levels of w-3 PUFAs (a type of fatty acid) correlated with decreased ROS production, indicating the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids. They have also been implicated as having other beneficial effects, including counteracting the cognitive decline seen in many cases of TBI in rodents.
Early treatment of TBI is critical to prevent secondary injuries and to prevent exacerbation of existing symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids, found over-the-counter in many pharmacies and stores, may have neuroprotective effects that may help with treatment of TBI, including mild cases such as concussion from sports or a fall.
Molecular Neurobiology, 2017. DOI: 10.1007/s12035-016-9931-1