Fat eases pain

Omega-3 fatty acids are good analgesics  

By Shrutika Mathur
Published: Tuesday 15 June 2010

imagePolyunsaturated fatty acids (pufas) have scored yet another point in the “which is better” contest with monounsaturated acids (mufas)—and this time as a painkiller.

While pufas are found in fish oil, soybean, corn, cottonseed, sesame and sunflower oil, dietary sources of mufas, are not far behind with must-eats: olive, canola oil, avocados, peanuts, nuts and seeds. Studies have encouraged the intake of both with high levels of benefits. The present study found that resolvins, compounds derived naturally from omega-3-fatty acids (pufas), can mitigate pain caused by inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Add this to the list of lowering blood cholesterol, reducing risk of heart attacks by slowing plaque and blood clot formation by omega-3 fatty acids alone and pufas emerge the winners. This was published online on April 11 in Nature Medicine.

Ru-Rong Ji and colleagues from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School at Boston in usa injected resolvins RvE1 and RvD1 into the spinal cord of affected mice at very low doses (0.3–20 nanogramme). The mice were found to overcome inflammation subsequent to treatment.

Present treatment for inflammatory pain involves use of either opioids or cox (cycloxygenase) inhibitors. cox is an enzyme that helps cells release a biological mediator at sites of injury to cause inflammation. “cox inhibitors increase chances of gastric and duodenal ulcers and renal complications,” said S K Kulkarni, pharmacology professor at Panjab University in Chandigarh. A glaring example is the increase in cardiovascular complications which led to withdrawal of Rofecoxib from the market by Merck and Company, the US-headquartered pharmaceutical, on September 30, 2004. “Opioids can lead to addiction,” he added.

Ru-Rong Ji believes the resolvins “will prove more potent than other painkillers and yield long-term benefits to patients.”

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