Omega 3 and Antioxidants Sap Inflammation
A combination of essential fatty acids and antioxidants appears to be an effective treatment for joint pain and common inflammatory injuries such as 'tennis elbow, ''golf elbow,' shin splints, and tendonitis.
Soren Mavrogenis, a physiotherapist with Denmark's Olympic Committee, has effectively treated several hundred cases of recurrent inflammatory injuries. He and his colleagues conducted a landmark study in 1998 in order to document the anti-inflammatory properties of this new treatment, which was tested for the first time in 1996 on a group of rowers from Denmark's National Rowing Team. The study will be published in a scientific journal of sports medicine in the near future.
Typically the injuries are treated with rest, physiotherapy, and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat pain and inflammation.
``The results of this research confirm our clinical observations and leave us with the clear impression that inflammatory injuries can be treated without the use of NSAIDs. I see this as a regular breakthrough in modern physiotherapy. For the first time we are able to offer our patients a safe and reliable treatment for stress injuries with chronic inflammatory response. In fact, it is our experience that with this new treatment, as opposed to conventional treatment, athletes are able to train actively while receiving treatment,'' Mavrogenis explains. The nutritional supplement used by Mavrogenis and colleagues to treat the athletes contains omega-3 (fish oil), omega-6 (borage oil) and vitamins A, B6, C and E plus selenium and zinc. According to Mavrogenis, most patients respond positively to the treatment in a matter of 2-3 weeks, depending on the severity of the injury, but in more serious cases it may take several months.
``The bad cases require the use of intensive ultrasound and certain massage techniques in addition to the antioxidants and essential fatty acids, but in the milder cases the use of nutrients alone is adequate,'' Mavrogenis says.
Generalist Dr. Claus Hancke also supports the use of essential fatty acids and antioxidants in treating inflammatory injuries.
``Strenuous exercise is known to produce an overload of harmful free radicals that damage healthy cells by oxidizing the phospholipids in the cell membrane. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals and limit their destructive impact, which is why athletes must make sure to get adequate amounts of antioxidants to protect themselves against stress injuries. In addition, essential fatty acids are important since they support the body's production of beneficial type 1 and type 3 prostaglandins, those which counteract pain and inflammation,'' states Dr. Hancke.
``Personally, I see the nutritional approach to inflammation as a big advantage, and I am convinced that essential fatty acids and antioxidants taken in combination have the same, or maybe an even greater, anti-inflammatory potential than NSAIDs,'' he added.
In Norway, where inflammatory injuries in shoulders, elbows, knees and Achilles tendons account for 25% of all job-related absences, the new anti-inflammatory regimen is presently being tested by NIMI (Norsk Idrettsmedisinsk Institut), one of Scandinavia's leading treatment facilities for sports injuries and rehabilitation.
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** This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.